The other night The Oak Barrel in Sydney put on a tasting of wines from the Catalunya Region of Spain. I've been to a wine tasting there a while back and rather enjoyed myself so thought why not go along again and check out a region that I'm not very familiar with at all.
Catalunya, or Catalonia is in the north east of Spain, sharing a border with France and the Mediterranean sea. Catalunya has a warm Mediterranean climate with dry hot summers and mild winters with moderate rainfall.
There were a decent amount of people in attendance and everyone eager to get started on what would be a delicious, and somewhat unusual night. There were ten wines on show, separated into four tasting brackets:
Bracket 1: Cava Suriol Brut Nature 2012
Bracket 2: Espelt 'Quinze Roures' 2013 - Garnacha Blanca, Gris
Portal del Priorat 'Trossos' 2008 - Garnacha Blanc
Bracket 3: Espelt 'Saulo' 2011 - Garnacha, Carignan
Cellar Pinol 'Portal' Red 2011 - Garnacha, Carignan
Escoda-Sanahuja 'Nas del Gagent' Red 2012 - Cabernet franc, Carignan, Garnacha, Merlot
Bracket 4: Torres 'Mas La Plana' 2010 - Cabernet Sauvignon
Clos Figueras Priorat Clos Figueres 2004 - Garnacha
Portal del Priorat 'Torros' 2008 Garnacha and Carignan
The evening started with a tasting of Cava; Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine made from the Macabeo, Xarello, Parellada grapes using the traditional Champagne method, 95% of the Cava produced is from the Catalunya region. With a nose of honeydew, white peach and citrus, this wine was crisp and zesty with a dry finish, proving to be a nice aperitif.
The second tasting bracket introduced three distinct whites. First up was the Quinze Roures, a blend of garnacha grey and white, this was a balanced wine displaying a nose of orange, vanilla and spice, with an oily mouthfeel and palette of almonds and honey.
The second wine , the 'Trossos' was quite interesting as everyone in the room sensed difference aromas; the common ones were tangerine, lemon with hints of vanilla, while myself and others detected the scent of over ripe bananas, vegemite and almond oil. It was quite a nice full bodied wine with butter and vanilla on the palette and a long.
The final wine of the bracket, the 'Els Bassots' was something completely different, a biodynamic "orange wine", with a lot of minerality, almost tasting like acetone, the mouth was flabby and personally I found it rather unpleasant. Looking this wine up, it actually received 92 points from Parker, so proof that peoples taste and preferences do differ dramatically.
The third bracket in the tasting introduced us to wines from Terra Alta, the highest wine region in Catalunya. the first wine was a crowd favourite however I thought it to be more of a quaffing table wine. The 'Saulo' a light bodied wine displayed flavours of red fruits, cherry ripe and confectionery. It was definitely easy to drink, but far from memorable.
The second wine, the 'Portal' was deep magenta in colour, with a nose of cedar and bacon, it was earthy on the palette with puckery tannins, rather lovely I thought.
The final wine in this bracket was another interesting wine, with a nose of kalamata olives and greasy sausages, I felt more like I was at a barbecue than a wine shop in the inner city. The 'Nas del Gegant' was light bodied with a short finish, the palette was earthy and rather tannic and gritty in the mouth.
We were now at the final bracket of tastings and I was expecting a nice big finish to the evening however that's not entirely what I received. The first wine, the 'Mas La Plana' was the only Cabernet Sauvignon of the night, it displayed typical characteristics of red fruit, and jammy currents, aged in french oak it was a pleasant wine however I felt it was lacking in body and complexity.
My favourite wine of the night was undoubtedly the second of the final bracket. the Figueras displayed all my preferred red wine characteristics; the smell of tobacco, cedar and wet leather danced in my nose, while the chewy tannins lashed my mouth with the luscious taste of dark berries and violets. It was delish, but retailing at $140 a bottle, of course it was going to be!
The final wine of the night, the 'Trossos' appeared to turn my entire day upside down; with yeast and gravox notes, it felt more like a savoury breakfast than the way to wrap up and evening. I didn't enjoy it at all, but thankfully I still had plenty of the Figueras left in my glass to swap the order and instead finish with that.
The tasting night drew to a close, however we'd gotten the taste for wine and decided we were in fact far from finished, so grabbing our bags we headed off to enjoy the local bars of Surry Hills... however, those adventures were a tad too messy to document any further ;)