93

2008 Vinyes dels Aspres S'Alou, Empordà

( E24, 15%, El Celler Petit )

Sourced from the oldest vines on the property, David Molas’ Grenache-based red is strongly marked by Syrah on the nose and palate. The granite soils and high altitude give the wine real freshness and minerality, despite the high alcohol. Perfumed, with violets and liquorice on the nose, sweet blackberry fruit, supple, grainy tannins and a lift of herbal spice. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Spain, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz
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
90

2007 Castillo Perelada Finca La Garriga, Empordà

( E19, 15%, El Celler Petit )

Sweet, oaky, concentrated Samsó that still demonstrates the variety’s characteristic freshness and wildness. The oak is a little too obvious (some might call it seductive), but this is a big, dense, stylish, modern wine with notes of sweet Mediterranean herbs and Angostura bitters. Needs food. The volatility might be too high for some. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Spain, Red, Carignan
92

2007 Roig Parals Camí de Cormes, Empordà

( E20, 15%, El Celler Petit )

If you want to taste really old vine Samsó (and we’re talking 120 years here), try this. Dense, complex, minerally and wild with freshness to balance the concentration and high alcohol. This comes from the plain, but tastes like a mountain wine, with sweet red fruits, a touch of volatility and appealing minerality. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Carignan
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