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.
Retailer: El Celler Petit
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.
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.
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.