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The varieties from Terra Alta (III): Carignan

crònica pere cerimoniósPeter the Ceremonious in his chronicle was already recording this variety at the end of the 14th century in old Catalan language with the name of “caranyena”. The most of winegrowers still using this name nowadays in Terra Alta. Years ago Spanish Government banned to use the name “Carinyena” and several Catalan wineries tag their bottles using the name of “Samsó”. However, we should never confuse “Samsó” with the French variety “Cinsault” that sounds very similar. Today this band has been repealed.

We can find this variety all around Catalonia, above all in the wine regions of Terra Alta, Priorat and Empordà, but we also find in Valencia, South of France, Rioja, Italy, California and Morocco.

Although it is a black variety, we can find red and white mutations mainly located in Empordà region.

Let’s analyse the behaviour of this variety in the field:

Late shoots, therefore resistant to frost.

Resistant to drought.

Very vigorous and very productive.

Late maturation, the last varieties to pick up. It needs warm climates to have a good maturation.

Large and compact grape, medium grain.

Bluish-black colour.

Very sensitive to moisture, fungal problems.

And in the cellar:
High acidity.

Many tannins, a lot of astringency.

Very coloured, it is used a lot in blends.

Little aromatic intensity.

Alcoholic and bodied wines.

Notes of very ripe fruit, balsamic, mineral and spicy.

Very good evolution in aging.

Despite being one of the natives varieties in Terra Alta and finding it in many blends, we find few monovarietal wines from Samsó (Carignan), so we leave you links to monovarietals of Carignan in Terra Alta:

Finca la Pedrissa from Edetària winery in Gandesa.

Set Sitis from Germans Balart in Gandesa.

Tremenda from Vins del Tros in Vilalba dels Arcs.

Puresa Samsó from Celler Cooperatiu Gandesa in Gandesa.

Mon Iaio Sisco from Celler Josep Vicens in Gandesa.

Other varieties in Terra Alta:

White Grenache.

Morenillo.

The varieties from Terra Alta (II): The Morenillo

morenillo-terra-altaIn the work of Diccionari dels Noms dels Ceps i Raïms from Xavier Favà and published by the Institute of Catalan Studies in the year 2001 the entry about Morenillo says that is an ingrained variety and documented in the region of Terres de l’Ebre an above all in villages like Gandesa and Vilalba dels Arcs.

Morenillo is a native variety from Terra Alta, recognized as a variety since the end of 2018. However there are several wineries have started to bet for this variety almost forgotten and lost becoming as a symbol of innovation and quality. The wineries, Piñol, Bàrbara Forés and Vins del Tros have been the pioneers in the recovery of this variety and other wineries have followed the way such as Bernaví, Celler Cooperatiu Gandesa and Lafou. Most of these wineries coincide to tell that the peasants took out the vineyards of Morenillo because it had irregular production and little colouring. It is a late variety that the most producers picked up mixed with other varieties and nobody gave it importance and it doesn’t appear that it had been vinified separately.

The bet of this wineries offering an interesting and high quality products with this variety can serve to enlarge the production and the interest for it. Over the years we will know if this variety will be the genuine red variety that will position Terra Alta in the markets as in the case of White Grenache in white wines.

The characteristics of Morenillo in the field are:

It is said that there are between 10 and 20ha of Morenillo vineyards distributed among Gandesa, Batea and Vilalba dels Arcs. New plantations have now appeared.

Irregular production.

The grains of this grape are blue lead.

Morenillo in the cellar:

Low yield in grape must.

Excellent balance between alcohol and acidity.

Good intensity of fruit (red ripe fruit), balsamic and spicy notes.

On the mouth it is silky with soft tannins.

In summary, we can observe its low and irregular yield caused that this variety had been aimed disappearing completely,although thanks to the efforts of several winemakers have discovered more than interesting elements for its winemaking.

Here's a list of bottles which are made by Morenillo:
Finca Morenillo from Celler Piñol (100% Morenillo)

Mather Teresina from Celler Piñol (30% Morenillo)

21 Ventuno from Bernaví (70% Morenillo)

Puresa Morenillo from Celler Cooperatiu Gandesa (100% Morenillo)

Lo Morenillo from Vins del Tros (100% Morenillo)

Lo Moreno from Vins del Tros (100% Morenillo)

Negreita from Bernaví (50% Morenillo)

El Templari from Bàrbara Forés (70% Morenillo)

LaFou El Sender from LaFou Celler (10% Morenillo)

The Catalan Wines Guide set two wines from Terra Alta among the best of Catalonia

guia de vins catalunya 2019Last 5th of November 2018 the Catalan Wines Guide delivered the prizes and published the scores of the eleventh guide edition in Maritime Museum in Barcelona.

If you are interested in consulting the rest of scores you can get your own guide clicking here.
We highlight the two prizes that Terra Alta wines received as the best of Catalonia in their categories:

- The best White Grenache 2019 of Catalonia is for Pla de Pey 2016 from the winery Vins del Tros. (Available soon)

- The best Parellada 2019 of Catalonia is for L'Home Peix 2017 from Agrícola Corbera d'Ebre.

We also share with you a classification by categories for the best scores of Terra Alta wines (equal to or greater than the score of 9.50 out of 10):

White wines:

- 9,82 points - Pla de Pey 2016 from the winery Vins del Tros.

- 9.77 points - L'Home Peix 2017 from Agrícola Corbera d'Ebre.

- 9.76 points - Tretze 2016 from Ramon Andreu winery.

- 9.75 points - El Quintà 2016 from Bàrbara Forés winery.

- 9.75 points - Abrisa't 2016 from Bàrbara Forés winery.

- 9.69 points - Blanc Bàrbara Forés 2017 from Bàrbara Forés winery.

- 9.69 points - Estones Únic PX 2016 from Estones Vins.

- 9.69 points - Vinya d'Irto Blanc 2017 from Nova Caliterra.

- 9.63 points - Edetària Selecció Blanc 2012 from Edetària.

- 9.62 points - Cent X Cent 2017 from Vins del Tros.

- 9.62 points - Edetària Selecció Blanc 2016 from Edetària.

- 9.61 points - Finca la Terrenal 2015 from Edetària.

- 9.60 points - Al-fatriyya 2017 from Agrícola Sant Isidre.

- 9.59 points - Jordi Miró Garnatxa Blanca 2017 from Jordi Miró winery.

- 9.55 points - Els Amelers 2017 from LaFou winery.

- 9.51 points - Els Costums Blanc 2017 from Les Vinyes del Convent.

- 9.51 points - Merian Blanc 2017 from Cellers Tarroné.

- 9.50 points - Il·lusió Garnatxa Blanca 2017 from Xavier Clua winery.

- 9.50 points - Selecció Garnatxa Blanca 2014 from Altavins Viticultors.

Red wines:

- 9.80 points - Señora Carmen 2016 from Vins del Tros.

9,77 punts - Edetària Selecció Negre 2015 from Edetària.

- 9,76 punts - Finca la Personal 2015 from Edetària.

- 9,74 punts - La Genuïna 2015 from Edetària.

- 9,69 punts - Llàgrimes de Tardor Garnatxa 2016 from Sant Josep Wines.

- 9,68 punts - Almodí Roure from Altavins Viticultors.

- 9,68 punts - Vinya d'Irto Vinyes Velles from Nova Caliterra.

- 9,64 punts - Panicort 2016 from Arrufí winery.

- 9,63 punts - Selecció Garnatxa Peluda 2015 from Altavins Viticultors.

- 9,62 punts - El Templari 2016 from Bàrbara Forés.

- 9,61 punts - Llàgrimes de Tardor Carinyena 2015 from Sant Josep Wines.

- 9,61 punts - Il·lusió Garnatxa Negra from Xavier Clua winery.

- 9,61 punts - Naturalis Mer Ecològic Negre from Celler Batea.

- 9,58 punts - Disset 2016 from Ramon Andreu.

- 9,57 punts - Clot d'Encís Garnatxa Carinyena 2017 from Sant Josep Wines.

- 9,56 punts - Tempus 2015 from Altavins Viticultors.

- 9,55 punts - Font Calenta Negre 2016 from Caterra.

- 9,55 punts - Ay de mi! 2016 from Vins del Tros.

- 9,54 punts - Señora Carmen 2015 from Vins del Tros.

- 9,53 punts - Tremenda 2013 from Vins del Tros.

- 9,52 punts - Hereus Negre 2017 from Caterra.

- 9,50 punts - Puresa Morenillo 2013 from Celler Cooperatiu Gandesa.

- 9,50 punts - Jordi Miró Carignan 2016 from Jordi Miró winery.

Sweet and fortified wines:

 - 9,74 punts - Clot d'Encís Vi Ranci from Sant Josep Wines.

- 9,65 punts - Puresa Vi Dolç Blanc Brisat from Celler Cooperatiu Gandesa.

- 9,63 punts - Vi Ranci Somdinou from Celler Cooperatiu Gandesa.

- 9,63 punts - Llàgrimes de Tardor Mistela Blanca from Sant Josep Wines.

- 9,62 punts - Puresa Vi dolç Negre from Celler Cooperatiu Gandesa.

- 9,58 punts - Poble Vell Vi de Licor Negre from Agrícola Corbera d'Ebre.

- 9,58 punts - Poble Vell Vi de Licor Blanc from Agrícola Corbera d'Ebre.

- 9,54 punts - Josefina Piñol Vi Dolç Blanc from Celler Piñol.

- 9,50 punts - Somdinou Mistela Garnatxa Blanca from Celler Cooperatiu Gandesa.

The Master of Wine Sarah Jane Evans visited Terra Alta to make an speech about wine tourism

sarah jane evansLast 2nd of November the Wine Festival of Gandesa began in a technical conference with the British Sarah Jane Evans who is an award-winning wine writer and journalist, Co-Chairman of Decanter World Wine Awards, and Chairman of the 2018 IMW Symposium. She is Master of Wine since 2016.

Sarah gave us some reflections as a wine tourist from Great Britain:
Terra Alta has the virtues to become a wine region destination with personality: it has history, terroir (type of soil, winds, climatology, but also the people) and wine culture.

However, she asks herself, where is Terra Alta? British people know where Barcelona it is and everything surrounds Barcelona is Catalonia, but they don't know where the Terra Alta is located, some can place Priorat, and some of them found Montsant as the area of wine that surrounds Priorat and is much more cheap than Priorat. Sarah introduces an interesting concept of finding collaborative actions between the different wine regions to have more strength individually.

Another of the keys Jane has taken away during her conference is: What is the White Grenache? She had never heard of White Grenache from Terra Alta, she had heard from Rioja's White Grenache and other areas but not from Terra Alta, although the last one has fascinating statistics with this variety, therefore, she says that we should be make more efforts to publicize Terra Alta, always speaking from her point of view as a British, but it seems a great job Terra Alta exports around 70% of its production.

The conference ended with a tasting of two White Grenaches from Terra Alta, on the one hand Vila-Closa 2017 young wine 100% White Grenache and on the other hand Avi Arrufí 2016 fermented and aged in French oak barrels.

Then the event continued with a lunch pairing at the same place at Celler Figueres in Gandesa where we could taste the following dishes and wines:

The wines served have been: Rialla Garnatxa Blanca 2017, Somdinou Blanc Criança 2016 and Domus Pensi 2014.

dinar jornada tècnica festa del vi gandesaAperitifs served by Coll del Moro Restaurant: Boletus macaroni, cod tartet and tuna tartar and mango.

Main dishes:

1 Miralles Restaurant: Carpaccio of prawns with truffle slices.

2 Nou Moderno Restaurant: Loin of cod confit with omelette in juice and pumpkin chips.

3 Ginebrals Restaurant: Beef stew with Grenache sauce and creamy sweet potato.

Dessert tastings by la Fontcalda Restaurant.

The varieties from Terra Alta (V): Macabeo

macabeuMacabeo is a variety of which its geographic origin is located between Catalonia and Aragon, and from this area spread throughout the Iberian peninsula and southern France, although we also find it in California, North of Africa or Mallorca. It is very important in Castile, Navarra and La Rioja, where it is known as Viura; where formerly it was used to soften the tannicity of red wines, even today we find small proportions in some red wines.
Although we find it all around Catalonia, it concentrates mainly in Penedès and Terra Alta, and it is also common in Empordà and Tarragona.
Other denominations for Macabeo are Maccabéu and Charas Blanc (France), Alcañón (Aragon) and Macameu in Terra Alta, where this variety thanks to its resistance to oxidation has traditionally been mixed with Garnacha Blanca (sensible to oxidation).
Together with Xarel·lo and Parellada, it is one of the basic wines for the production of Cava, although we find other applications for monovarietal wines, to make blends, wines with aging and also for sweet wines.

In the countryside:
High production.
Compact and large grapes.
Round grain, golden color and fine skin.
Very sensitive to Botrytis Cinerea (rotten).
Relatively early maturing.

Winery:
Good yield of must.
Low oxidation
Moderate alcohol graduation.
Average acidity
Pale color, straw yellow with greenish hues.
Medium intensity aromas, floral notes and slightly fruity (grapefruit, apple); notes of honey and nuts in elborations with wood passage.
Although we find Macabeo in many DO Terra Alta wines, especially as NOT dominant wine in a blend, we have chosen two wines where we believe we can appreciate the traditional use of Macabeo in Terra Alta:

Vinyes del Grau Blanc from Celler Josep Vicens.
Clot d'Encís Clàssic de Sant Josep Wines.

2018: Terra Alta, Grenache world epicenter

2018 will be a historic year for Terra Alta wine region, because it will host the international competition "Grenaches du Monde". This competition was born in French lands in 2013 but each year takes place in different wine region. This year it will take places during 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th of April and it is expected to exceed 800 wines sample from Spain, France, Italy, South Africa, Australia, Macedonia, Canada, Lebanon, Greece, etc.

The previous editions were held in Sardinia 2017 where Terra Alta won 17 medals which 11 were gold, Aragon 2016 where Terra Alta won 12 medals, Perpignan 2015 and 2014 with 8 and 5 medals for Terra Alta.

One of the peculiarities of the contest is focused on varietal wines of Grenache that is with more than 51% of this variety. It is the most harvested Mediterranean variety in the world and Terra Alta is known precisely because of its high concentration of White Grenache with more than 1,200 hectares planted and it is said that it owns more than 30% of world's Grenache production. 

Taking advantage of the announcement of the international competition in Terra Alta, we invite you to taste different wines of Grenache through activities where you can learn about Mediterranean interior landscape, its cuisine and its main tourist attractions through a plenty of activities that we are preparing:

- Iberians in Terra Alta, in this activity we will visit the Iberian settlement and the necropolis of the Iberian site of El Coll del Moro, in the city of Gandesa, and we will end up with a wine tasting. € 15 per person.

- Wine tasting of Grenaches, taking advantage of the competition, we will focus on these varieties, both white, red, Peluda, etc. € 15 per person.

- The paths of the Battle of the Ebro, an excursion where we will discover the most emblematic corners of the Serra de Pàndols i Cavalls, with wine tasting included. € 20 per person.

- Calçotada, you will enjoy a wine tasting and a meal accompanied by typical calçots and a variety of meat. € 25 per person.

- BTT Tour: The landscape of White Grenache, in this activity you will enjoy the Green Way of Terra Alta with a final wine tasting in Fontcalda. € 30 per person (includes material renting, transport and wine tasting).

- Wine tours, each route consists on visiting and tasting two wineries in DO Terra Alta (bookings depending on the availability). € 15 per person.

More activities by clicking on: Routes and wine tourism in Terra Alta.

Infoline:

669 06 03 12 // 650 18 74 01 // This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

viorigen vi cultura garnatxes

*Photo: La Casa dels Abeuradors

The varieties from Terra Alta (IV): The Red Grenache

Garnatxa NegraThe Red Grenache is the most important Mediterranean variety around the world and used in almost all wine regions of Catalonia. Actually, the Red Grenache occupies an area of approximately 1500 hectares in Terra Alta.

Although the origin is uncertain, many place their origin in Aragon in Spain. We can find vineyards of Red Grenache in Catalonia, Spain, France, California, Italy and Australia.

The behavior of this variety in the field:

Vigorous and of average production.

Very resistant to drought, heat and adapts to fertile land.

Very resistant to wind. Sensitive to excess of moisture.

Very sensitive to the fencing (poor flowering of flowers).

Purple red color and medium fine grain.

Sensitive to the worm of the grape, mildew and botrytis, little sensitive to oid and mites.

In the cellar:

Sensitive to oxidation (oxidase).

High sugar content (slow maturation): alcoholic beverages.

Low content of tannins and phenolic compounds.

Reddish color.

High intensity aromas with notes of candied fruit and spices.

Medium acidity.

Appropriate for aging: balsamic notes, toasted, minerals.

Garnatxa PeludaIn addition, it is a variety with several mutations with different oenological shades, such as the Garnatxa Roja in Empordà. Also highlight the variety Garnatxa Tintera or Tintorera which is a variety that adds a lot of color to the wine, because, apart from the skin, the pulp is also "black". This variety is found mainly in the DO Alicante, DO Valencia, AOC Costers del Rosselló and AOC Collioure. Another related variety is the Garnatxa Peluda that is different from the common one so that in the lower part of the leaves they display a kind of "hair". The Garnacha Peluda has a smaller and oval grain, it has a greater acidity and a different aromatic profile. We find it especially in DO Terra Alta, DOQ Priorat, DO Montsant, AOC Banyuls, DO Catalunya, AOC Costers del Rosselló, AOC Costers del Rosselló Vilatges and AOC Maurí. Recently, the new winery, Les Vinyes del Convent, from Horta de Sant Joan in Terra Alta, has regained a unique variety, the Garnacha Alta, with a greater concentration of tannin.

The varieties from Terra Alta (I): The White Grenache

garnatxa blanca verema

We look back to the year 1647 to find the first written document about the White Grenache from the Father Onofre Català; and it was collected by the Father Manyà in the book "Notes d’Història de Gandesa" (1962). In this writing, it clearly mentions that ""vernatxa"(white variety) has been planted on one of the farms belonging to the parish of Gandesa”. Throughout the Mediterranean area, several authors refer to the variety in his literary work long before Father Onofre Català; such as Eiximenis a Catalan author who refers to it in his work "Lo Crestià" (1385); however, although no one knows for sure if they refer to the same variety, but they defined these wines as dry, white and liquor wines.

Nowadays, White Grenache and Terra Alta form an inseparable binomial which have carved a niche to international markets, thanks to several motives listed then. The White Grenache represents 22% of total production in Terra Alta that represents more than 90% of White Grenache in Catalonia and it is said that it represents a third part of the world's production from this variety.

An important fact which explains the good adaptation of White Grenache in Terra Alta is the climatology which is Mediterranean with continental influences, abundant sunshine, scarce rainfall and cold winters. There are two particularities, on the one hand, the balance between the two prevailing winds and on the other hand the large temperature variation between day and night during summers. All these characteristics make the plants fit in smoothly and have excellent ripeness.

The characteristics of White Grenache in the field are:

Vigorous plant and an average production.

Very resistant to drought, heat and adapts to non-very fertile and rocky lands.

Very resistant to the wind.

Sensitive to excess of moisture and being waterlogged.

Sensitive to poor fruit set of flowers.

Medium bunch, medium and small grain with thin skin.

Sensitive to the grape worm, mildew and botrytis.

Shortly sensitive to powdery mildew and mites.

However, the behaviour in cellar is:

Sensitive to oxidation.

It produces alcoholic wines.

It has medium-low acidity (increases in cold climates).

Suitable for aging due to good evolution.

Straw yellow or golden yellow, depending on the type of elaboration.

Aromas of medium intensity, floral, fruity and herbaceous notes.

Flavour: persistent and full-bodied.

In short, this is a rustic variety in fields and delicate during winemaking. In glass it is a variety which is not highlighted for its intense smell, but it is by its intense and structured palate and its complexity, as well as a good aptitude for aging.

The DO Terra Alta also identifies the bottles with a quality seal that are made with one hundred percent of White Grenache which exceeds 80 points out of 100 rating on the tasting panel.

segell cent per cent garnatxa blanca

Grenaches du Monde 2017

Terra Alta won seventeen medals, 11 gold medals, 3 silver medals and 3 bronze medals. The awarded wines from Terra Alta in the 5th edition of the International Competition Grenaches du Monde 2017 are:

Gold Medal:

EDETÀRIA SELECCIÓ NEGRE

MEETING PLACE ROUTES

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PARKING HOTEL PIQUÉ
Av Vía Catalunya, 68
43780, Gandesa
Tarragona

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