95

2008 Vinyes d'Olivardots 2.08, Empordà

( E35, 15%, El Celler Petit )

Sandy soils, low production, 100-year-old vines: essence of Samsó. Wow! Super dense, very complex, savoury, spicy, lovely fruit sweetness, fine tannins, subtle oak and a finish that lingers on the palate. Wild, Mediterranean herbs, some wood smoke, fresh acidity, liquorice and red and black fruits. A superb wine. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-18Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Spain, Red, Carignan
93

2008 Terra Remota Clos Adrien, Empordà

( E40, 14.5%, El Celler Petit )

Low-production, Syrah-based red  with 10% Garnacha from one of the  region’s outstanding producers. Herbal, still youthful nose, with sweet, savoury, liquorice and blackberry fruit, fresh acidity, medium weight tannins and a tarry smoky finish. Syrah, but with minerality underpinning the fruit. Complex and long. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-18Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Spain, Red, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
93

2005 Castillo Perelada Finca Garbet, Empordà

( E100, 14%, El Celler Petit )

Unusually for Finca Garbet, this is made from 100% Syrah (normally it contains some Cabernet). It’s a very impressive wine: wild and smoky, with freshness and minerality, well integrated tannins and a long, balanced finish. Very Syrah, with notes of iodine and liquorice and a firm finish. The only question mark is over the price. 

BuySimilar Wines: £50-£100, 91-95, Spain, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
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
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