Jordi, Alice and Kevin in the vineyard.

Catalan Lights

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“Food is of and from a place; it needs a context to give it authenticity.  A dish that comes from nowhere lacks weight, lacks resonance.  Catalan cuisine comes from somewhere, to be sure.” – Colman Andrews, Catalan Cuisine

One of my favorite cookbooks.
Jordi firing up his sound system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wish this beautifully apt statement on terroir expression through cooking could be as easily applied to Catalan wine.  The garrigues-laden terrain of Catalonia is often described as “Mar y Montanya,” or “sea and mountain.”  It is hard to find this in the wines at times, many of them suffering from over-manipulation, generic industrial winemaking, not to mention the so-called improving varieties Merlot and Cabernet, which are still blended in regularly.  Today we have two wines that excite us beyond measure and go against this grain.

Recovery!
The Foraster Family.

 

The first is a pure and electric Garnatxa Peluda, an heirloom grape variety also found in the Roussillon, from Jordi Sanfeliu of the Costers del Segre, a mountainous region located northwest of Barcelona.  As immortalized in our friend Alice’s book, my first encounter with him was marred by my food poisoning, and I regrettably missed an amazing visit to Jordi’s certified organic vineyards, where he showed off his disco blaring sound-system that he used to ward off the wild boars which torment his grapes.  I did get a chance to spend time with him the following day, grilling food, recuperating, and talking with the vigneron.  He explained to me that when he began making wine, he did not add sulfur because it was a chemical, and he just didn’t think it belonged in wine.  That sort of understatement is what makes Jordi unique.  Not pretentious in the least, he prefers to spend his time in the vineyards and his families’ olive orchards.  When he met Laureano Serres, the mad man behind the extremely natural wines of Mendall, a new market opened for Jordi, and his wines can be found at the fantastic Barcelona wine-shop L’Anima del Vi.  We are excited to have Jordi’s “wines of nature” at Chambers Street Wines. 

Another producer doing fine work that fits into the spirit of this e-mail is Mas Foraster of the Conca de Barbera.  Mas Foraster, founded father Josep, is now run by the son Ricard.  They farm 35 acres of grapes and do not use chemicals in the vineyards, opting for a program of integrated agriculture; composting is done with the remaining skins, stems, and pips.  Ricard states that “what comes out of the vineyard goes back in to the soil.”  Their most compelling work is with shown with their Trepat, a fabulously light and aromatic wine with the kind of vinous complexity that comes from 50 year old vines.  The wine is fermented with native yeasts in tank and aged in older French oak for just 5 months.  It is a must try and absolutely delicious. 

We hope to find other gulpable Catalan wines like that of Vinya Sanfeliu and Mas Foraster that express the elusive concept of Mar y Montanya!  Bravo!

No Longer Available

Sanfeliu, Vinya 2010 Vi de taula Garnatxa Peluda (No Sulphur Added)

My go-to natural wine for the summer.  The color of rose, this is Catalonia's answer to French vin de soif — light, vibrant, and just insanely drinkable.  First, the wine hits you with deep aromas of dark spicy herbs, while the palate is all citrus and juicy red fruits, with notes of fresh fig, dried cherries, and spices in the finish.  From certified organic Garnacha Peluda grapes, called Lladoner Pelut in the Roussillon (the region where there is a real effort to revive this heirloom grape variety), vinified and bottled without sulfur.  Serve cool and pair with summertime Tapas — cured meats, salads, olives, etc.  Only 5 cases available. cb

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

Foraster, Josep (Mas) 2010 Conca de Barbera Trepat

Trepat is an oddity of the Catalonian grape-scape. Usually used for the random sparkling rosado, it doesn't offer much in the way of color, possesses high acidity, and ripens at low alcohol levels. Surprise, surprise—we love it! This delicious example, from old vines, has an extraordinarily lifted black pepper nose with juicy red fruits, citrus, apricot and grippy peppery notes. Reminds me of Cos' Frappato from Sicily. A superb light-bodied wine to pair with a whole range of tapas. I especially like foods with tomato and peppers in the recipe. A real find! cb

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99