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.
Food Match: Chicken
2011 Mas Llunes Nívia, Empordà( E8, 13.5%, El Celler Petit )
A wine that is a little too marked by oak at the moment, but has good underlying texture and concentration. Floral, saline and concentrated with toasty oak and good minerality. Needs a year or two in bottle, but I love the notes of fennel and wild rosemary and the strucuture and muscularity of the finish.
2011 Vinyes dels Aspres, Empordà( E13, 14.5%, El Celler Petit )
Sourced from the frontier village of Cantallops, this is a rich, powerful, wild wine that is almost unruly on the nose and palate. Even for a young wine, this is starting to show secondary notes of honey and marzipan, but there’s massive concentration and acidity to back it up. A slow burner of a wine, very dense, minerally and herbal with a salty, food welcoming finish.
2008 Oliveda Furot Crianza, Empordà( E6, 13%, El Celler Petit )
Good, honest drinking Samsó from high altitude vineyards on slate soils. There’s a little bit of oak here, but it’s not remotely intrusive. The wine shows aromatic red fruits, fresh acidity and attractive raspberry and cherrystone notes. Try it chilled with a plate of tapas. I did.
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.
2011 Sinols Blanc, Empordalia, Empordà( E4, 12%, El Celler Petit )
Brilliant value, unoaked white blend of Garnatxa Blanca and Macabeu from one of the region’s best co-ops. Herbal, tangy and lightly spicy, with notes of jasmine and orange peel and a fresh, medium weight finish. A regular holiday pick for me.
2011 Arché Pagès Satirs Blanc, Empordà( E6, 13%, El Celler Petit )
Made by one of the best young growers in Empordà using only Macabeu, this is outstanding value at only E6 a bottle. It’s quite weighty for an unoaked style, capable of bottle age and great with food. Pear and some honey with refreshing lift from aciity a minerally undertone and a whiff of Mediterranean herbs.
2011 Gelamà Macabeu, Empordà( E6, 13.5%, El Celler Petit )
The 20% oak ageing is quite prominent on the nose and palate here, reminding me of a white Rioja (same grape, but more concentration in Empordà), but there’s enough texture and concentration for it to integrate over time. Another young producer who has rejuvenated old family vines to fashion something with real personality: minerality, wild herbs and some vanilla sweetness.
2010 All Saints Estate Marsanne, Victoria( £14.9, 12.2%, Cockburn & Campbell )
A light, refreshing, herbal, honeysuckle-scented Marsanne from All Saints, favouring mealy, citrus fruit over oak influence. The wine is tangy and well-balanced, light enough to enjoy as an aperitif as well as with food. Experience shows that Victorian Marsannes age extremely well.
2011 CVNE Viña Real Rioja Blanco, Alavesa, Rioja( £9.99, 13%, Majestic )
By the very oaky standards of some white Riojas, this is comparatively light on the barrel influence. It’s a subtle, lightly smoky Viura with a herbal touch and well integrated vanilla oak. The palate is fresh, yet textured, with good length and a savoury finish.
2008 Marimar Estate Pinot Noir La Masía Don Miguel Vineyard, Russian River Valley, California( US$39, 14.5%, Contact the winery for details )
This doesn’t quite scale the same heights as this winery’s recent Chardonnay release, but it’s still an impressive West Coast Pinot, appealingly priced by the standards of some California reds. It’s a full bodied style with flavours of ripe red fruits and sweet vanilla oak and a touch of leafy forest floor. The alcohol is a little intrusive on the finish perhaps, but this is still a Pinot with depth and flavour.
2009 Marimar Estate Chardonnay La Masía Don Miguel Vineyard, Russian River Valley, California( US$35, 14.5%, Contact the winery for details )
This is the most elegant Chardonnay I’ve tasted yet from this Green Valley winery, marking a step change in freshness, minerality and balance. The wine is still Californian in style, but the oak and acidity are nicely intertwined adding a refeshing backrop to the pear and citrus fruit. The lees work is exemplary, too. A wine that wouldn’t look out of place in a line up of top Meursaults. Bravo.