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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s easy to judge the white wines from Oliver Conti too young, even this unoaked cuvée of Macebeu and Gewürztraminer. This combines perfume, spice, fresh acidity and a touch of grapeskin bitterness on the palate, underpinned by some creamy, lees-derived fatness. It’s an unusual wine, with the Gewürz adding some ginger spice to the Macabeu. Try cellaring it.
Made by Peter Sisseck of Pingus in Ribera del Duero fame, this is a pure Garnatxa Blanca that justifies its growing reputation. This is a value for money partner to his more grown up Clos d’Agon Catalunya wines. Focused, intense, unoaked and very fresh, this chalky, almost Burgundian white is the perfect foil for the local Palamos seafood.
One of the most exciting white wines in Empordà, made by French couple Marc and Emma Bournazeau from a blend of Garnatxa Blanca, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. Deftly oaked, beautifully defined, with the three grapes stylishly intertwined. Honeysuckle, some spice, a dash of thyme and pear and long, granite-derived minerality. Right up there with some of the best white wines in Spain. An estate to watch.
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.
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.