The best tasting of Spanish wines so far, Spanish Wine Day 2017, Operaterrassen, Stockholm (2017-11-25 by Nenad Jelisic)

 

The Spanish Wine Day is an annual recurring wine tasting at Operaterrassen. During this year Spanish Wine Day, all tables were visited, 109 wines were tasted and 31 of them got more than 2,5 NJP (28%). Comparatively in year 2016, 26% of the tasted wines got more than 2,5 NJP. This is the best result and the best tasting of Spanish wines (Spanish Wine Day) so far. Never before have so many wines got so many 4,5 NJP on a Spanish Wine Day. But it should be mentioned that the wines, which were tasted, were either the ones I chose by myself to taste or the ones that the exhibitor considered were the three best wines they had to offer or both. At many tastings, NJ Wines tastes all the wines that are available to taste and if NJ Wines had done so, even at this tasting, the result would certainly have been another. A slight disappointment with the tasting was that some of the producers who had the best wines at the recent years' Spanish Wine Days, such as Alto Moncoya, Bodegas Orben, Covadonga and León Dormido, were not represented at this year's tasting.

 

The following wines got more than 3,0 NJP (in alphabetical order): 1. Cartus, 2006, red dry blend wine, Priorat, 4,5 NJP, 2. Clos de l’Obac, 2007, red dry blend wine, Priorat, 4,5 NJP, 3. Gran Clos, 2006, red dry blend wine, Priorat, 3,5 NJP, 4. Gran Clos, 2011, red dry blend wine, Priorat, 3,5 NJP, 5. Gran Clos, Blanco 2015, white dry blend wine, Priorat, 3,5 NJP, 6. Miserere, 2007, red dry blend wine, Priorat, 4,0 NJP, 7. Pura Sangre, Gran Reserva, 2009, red dry wine, Jumilla, 4,5 NJP, 8. Real Tesoro, del Principe Amontillado, NV, dry sherry, Jerez, 4,0 NJP, 9. Real Tesoro, Pedro Ximénez, NV, sweet sherry, Jerez, 4,0 NJP, 10. Real Tesoro, Royal Cream, NV, sweet sherry, Jerez, 3,5 NJP, 11. Ribas de Cabrera, 2014, red dry blend wine, Mallorca, 3,5 NJP, 12. Santa Maria de la Piscina, Gran Reserva, 2001, red dry wine, Rioja, 3,5 NJP, 13. Taberner, Huerta de Albalá, 2005, red dry wine, Cádiz, 3,5 NJP and 14. Torres, Mas La Plana 2012, red dry wine, Penedès, 3,5 NJP.

 

The best wine producer at the tasting: Costers del Siurana. Costers del Siurana is located in the Priorat wine region in the southern part of Catalonia in Spain. Although the official name of the winery is Costers del Siurana, it is mainly known for its internationally renowned wine, Clos de l’Obac. Even on their website, Clos de l’Obac is written in larger letters than the name of the winery. Everything began in the late 1970s when the married couple Pastrana and Jarque, together with René Barbier (Clos Mogador), began to replant vines. Several other people had joined the group until 1990. The first vintage of Clos de l’Obac (red dry blend wine; Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Cariñena) was 1989. Miserers (red dry blend wine; Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Merlot and Cariñena) were born in 1990 and Dolç de l’Obac (sweet dry blend wine; Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) in 1991. The vineyards of Clos de l'Obac, Dolç de l’Obac, Kyrie (white dry blend wine; Grenache, Macabeu, Muscat of Alexandria and Xarel·lo) and Miserere are spread over different areas. At this tasting, there was the opportunity to taste both Clos de l'Obac and Miserere. Clos de l'Obac got 4,5 NJP while Miserere got 4,0 NJP. The fact that both wines got such high points is extremely impressive and it says a lot about the quality of the wines of the winery Costers del Siurana.

The best wine in all categories at the tasting: Cartus, 2006, red dry blend wine, Priorat, 4,5 NJP. Cartus is produced by the winery Gran Clos, which is located in the Priorat wine region. Gran Clos produces four different wines: Cartus, Finca El Puig, Gran Clos and Gran Clos Blanco. Gran Clos has 32 hectares planted with vine. The vines are almost 100 years old. Cartus consists of 75% Grenache and 25% Carignan. Its grapes are handpicked and sorted carefully in both vineyards and winery. The wine is fermented for 10 days and macerated for 1 month and then aged in 100% new French oak for 21 months. Of this vintage only 2,095 bottles were produced. Cartus 2006 is a fantastic wine that independent of its age (11 years) still tastes as a young and vibrant wine. Except it, two other wines also got 4,5 NJP, but Cartus 2006 won thanks to its great complexity. The wine belongs to the absolute best ones that NJ Wines has so far tasted from Priorat. Bravo Gran Clos! Red fruit together with sweet spices, mint and herbs dominate the aromas. The flavour is dominated by dark chocolate, black currant, tobacco, vanilla and herbs. It has well-integrated tannins, good acidity and a long aftertaste. If the wine would be drank today, it should be decanted for an hour. Cartus 2006 has a very god aging potential, up to 10 years of bottle aging.

The best wine region at the tasting: Priorat. Priorat, a DOCa-classified wine region, which belongs to the geographical area of Catalonia. Right now, only Rioja and Priorat are DOCa-classified. Priorat’s vineyards are planted on steep (15 to 60 degrees) terraced slopes along the Siruana and Montsant river valleys and lie at an altitude of 100 to 700 m above sea level. The region has both continental and Mediterranean climate. The summers are hot (max 40°C) while the winters are cold (min -3°C). On average it rains 400 to 600 mm per year (comparatively it rains 600 to 700 mm per year in Sweden) and the number of hours of sunshine per year is 2,600 (from 1,500 to 1,600 in Sweden). Those 1,916 ha planted with vine give about 13,887 hl per year. The average yield is 1,500 kg of grapes per hectare and the maximum yield is 6,000 kg of grapes per hectare (for red wine grapes), corresponding to 39 hl/ha. The maximum yield for white wine grapes is 8,000 kg of grapes per hectare, corresponding to 52 hl/ha. The red wines usually consist of a blend of two or three of the following grapes: Garnacha Tinta, Cariñena, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Within Priorat, there are the following quality designations that regulate aging time: Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Crianza, the wine must be aged for at least 2 years, of which at least 12 months in oak barrels. Reserva, the wine must be aged for at least 3 years, of which at least 12 months in oak barrels and at least 24 months in the bottle. Gran Reserva, the wine must be aged for at least 6 years, of which at least 24 months in oak barrels and at least 48 months in the bottle. There are not so many wineries that follow those before mentioned aging times. Usually wines are produced that are classified as vino de guarda, i.e. the wines that must be aged for at least 2 years, of which at least 18 months in oak barrels and at least 6 months in the bottle. Palacio's famous vineyard L'Ermita (1,7 hectares), from which comes the world-famous wine L'Ermita, is the largest vineyard with old Garnacha vines in the wine region.

 

Priorat grapes, dominated by Garnacha Blanca and Macabeo for white wines, and Garnacha Tinta, Cariñena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot for red wines.

 

Priorat soils, vary, but they are characterized for a mixture that consists of black-reddish slate and mica. The mixture, which is called licorella, gives the wines a unique mineral character, good drainage properties, and both reflects sunbeams and stores the solar heat. When the sun has gone down, the stored solar heat in the mixture still emits the heat, which helps the ripening of the grapes. During the summer, the temperature of the mixture reaches 50°C.

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