91

2007 Arché Pagès Bonfill, Empordà

( E18, 15%, El Celler Petit )

A blend of Grenache, Samsó and Cabernet Sauvignon from Bonfill Pagès’ vineyards in Capmany, with lots of oak and a dense, concentrated palate. The wine is a little too marked by alcohol perhaps, but the tannins are sweet and well managed here. Wild, sweet, herby and minerally with impressiv freshness and a lift of volatility. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Grenache
91

2009 Hugas de Batlle Coma Fredosa, Empordà

( E15, 15%, El Celler Petit )

Edu de Batlle farms some of the most picturesque vines in Empordà. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with some spicy Garnacha adding a layer of complexity. The wildness of the vineyard is there in the wine, too: feral, wind-blown, sun-baked. It’s high in alcohol, with a hint of volatility, but the wine is dense and complex with sweet, fig and ripe plum fruit. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache
87

2010 Espelt Terres Negres, Empordà

( E13, 14%, El Celler Petit )

Espelt is the second biggest winery in Empordà after Perellada. This Carignan-dominated blend from old vines in Rabós is marked by volatility, but it works in a wild, herby Medieterranean sort of way. Medium bodied and fresh, with sweet red fruits, some liquorice, slightly baked fruit and a lifted finish. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, Red, Carignan
89

2007 Mas Llunes Rhodes, Empordà

( E11, 14.5%, El Celler Petit )

A chunky, full-throated red made from Samsó and Syrah (sort of trips off the tongue, doesn’t it?) this is still on the young side. Aromatic, herbal and firm on the palate with tannins that really need protein to show at their best. Wait for the winter before you pull the cork. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, Red, Carignan, 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
91

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.  

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, Spain, White, Macabeo
90

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, White, Macabeo