93

2007 Mas Romeu Finca Malesa, Empordà

( E18, 14%, El Celler Petit )

Thia is the personal project of Delfi Sanahuja, who makes the wine at nearby Castillo de Perelada. It’s an ambitious modern style with quite a bit of oak, but real freshness, vivacity and length. Minerally, zesty and well balanced with notes of spice, wild herbs, plum and red cherry fruit and medium weight tannins. Very stylish. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Grenache, Merlot
89

2008 Can Sais Expressio, Empordà

( E35, 15%, El Celler Petit )

The price is certainly ambitious, but it’s matched by the scarcity (only 845 bottles made) and the very ow yields (less than half a kilo per vine). Marta Arenas’s pure Grenache is biodynamic and made without added sulphur. It’s a wild, complex wine with a faintly pruney note, sweet underlying red fruits and savoury tannins. It’s quite fragile, with a nod towards Pinot Noir, and a nip of volatility on the finish. Drink up as the tannnins are starting to dry on the finish. 

BuyDrinking window: NowSimilar Wines: £30-£50, 86-90, Spain, Red, Grenache
93

2008 Sota els Angels Desea, Empordà

( E18, 13%, El Celler Petit )

This is only the “entry point” wine from this new winery, but it still costs E18. It’s a biodynamic blend of Syrah, Merlot and Samsó, produced in a ripe, supple, fruit-packed style with lots of sweet, spicy blackberry fruit, aromas of incense and fresh herbs, subtle oak and a seamless integration of the three varieties. It’s lighter and fresher than it appears on the nose. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Carignan, Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz
89

2011 Oliver Conti Treyu, Empordà

( E7, 12.5%, El Celler Petit )

It’s easy to judge the white wines from Oliver Conti too young, even this unoaked cuvée of Macebeu and Gewürztraminer. This combines perfume, spice, fresh acidity and a touch of grapeskin bitterness on the palate, underpinned by some creamy, lees-derived fatness. It’s an unusual wine, with the Gewürz adding some ginger spice to the Macabeu. Try cellaring it. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, White, Gewürztraminer, Macabeo
94

2010 Terra Remota Caminante, Empordà

( E15, 14%, El Celler Petit )

One of the most exciting white wines in Empordà, made by French couple Marc and Emma Bournazeau from a blend of Garnatxa Blanca, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. Deftly oaked, beautifully defined, with the three grapes stylishly intertwined. Honeysuckle, some spice, a dash of thyme and pear and long, granite-derived minerality. Right up there with some of the best white wines in Spain. An estate to watch. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, White
93

2010 Marti Fabra Masia Carreras Blanc, Empordà

( E13, 14.5%, El Celler Petit )

There’s clearly something special about the village of San Clement Sescebes (and not just as the place where lots of Spaniards did their military service) as it’s home to two of the region’s best producers (Terra Remota being the other one). This highly unusual blend of Garnatxa Blanca, Picapoll and Samsó (aka Carignan) is a big, umami-rich white with a dry finish, some tannin on the palate and masses of grip, density and flavour. A very serious bottle of white. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, White, Carignan, Grenache Blanc, Palomino Fino, Picpoul
90

2010 Clos d'Agon Amic, Empordà

( E14, 14.5%, El Celler Petit )

Rich, wild, slightly volatile notes on the nose, with sweet red and black fruits and a warm, palate-coating finish: it could only be Grenache. Or rather Garnatxa (along with Merlot, Cabernet and a few other things). Aromatic, very primary, with notes of liquorice and blackberry, smooth tannins and a long finish. Needs time. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot
93

2010 Terra Remota Camino, Empordà

( E14, 14.5%, El Celler Petit )

A fruit salad blend (if that doesn’t sound pejorative) of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Tempranillo and other varieties, this is another delicious release from this brilliant winery. It’s like a cross between a red Burgundy, a new wave Rioja and a Châteauneuf, with silky tannins, sweet raspberry and wild strawberry fruit, lovely oak integration and a lift of acidity and white pepper. Superb winemaking with noticeable French flair and finesse. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Other Reds, Syrah/Shiraz, Tempranillo
89

2009 Mas Vida 32 Merlot, Empordà

( E11, 14.5%, El Celler Petit )

Merlot from Empordà? At 14.5%? It doesn’t sound promising. And yet this is a more than decent red showing the slight grassiness of the variety, even at higher alcohol levels. The finish is a little dry and hot, but there’s a freshness beneath it, with grainy tannins and textured, fruitcake notes. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, Red, Merlot
88

2011 Finest Côtes Catalanes Carignan, Roussillon

( £6.99, 13.5%, Tesco )

I sometimes feel as if I’m the president, founder and only member of the Carignan appreciation society, which is strange, given how good this grape can taste, especially when its vines are old. That’s the case here in this chunky Roussillon red, sourced from bush vines close to the Pyrenees. It’s a big, bold, appropriately rustic number with notes of thyme, rosemary and pepper spice, a touch of sweetness, bags of black fruits and a volatile lift. In short, classic Carignan. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, France, Red, Carignan
95

NV All Saints Grand Rutherglen Muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria

( £40, 18%, Cockburn & Campbell )

Wow! When Aussie stickies are as good as this, they are some of the greatest fortified wines in the world. This ambre-hued, mature, non vintage Muscat is a stunner, all dates and rose petal, with a hint of Oloroso Sherry. Treacle, molasses, unctuous sweetness and a finish that goes on for ever. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-25Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Australia, Fortified, Muscat à Petits Grains