93

2010 Lavinyeta Punt i apart, Empordà

( E12, 14.5%, El Celler Petit )

There’s no mistaking the main grape here (Cabernet Sauvignon, to the tune of 85%), but it doesn’t taste like a Cab made anywhere else. The closest affinity would be with Tuscany (Bolgheri), but even that doesn’t quite express the wine’s personality. It’s a very polished wine, with well integrated, smoky oak, toasty, great structure, fresh acidity, dark fruits and a fine, savoury, minty finish. The Samsó adds a wild, appealingly rustic note. A bit of rough perhaps? 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan
92

2007 Marti Fabra Masia Carreras, Empordà

( E18, 15%, El Celler Petit )

The first thing you notice about this wine on the nose is the oak. And the impression doesn’t change on the palate. And yet there is a lot of wine behind the staves: a wild, herby, spicy, minerally red based on Samsó with a bit of Merlot for extra padding. I’d be tempted to give this some time in bottle, because it’s got wonderful freshness and minerality and a dense, complex finish. You don’t notice the high alcohol, although this is certainly a ripe style. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, Red, Carignan, Merlot
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
93

2010 Marti Fabra Masia Carreras Blanc, Empordà

( E13, 14.5%, El Celler Petit )

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-15Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Spain, White, Carignan, Grenache Blanc, Palomino Fino, Picpoul
90

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, White, Grenache Blanc
92

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 96-100, Spain, White, Grenache Blanc
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