Day 2 started with breakfast in the Hotel where we were staying. It was supposed to start already at 8.30 AM, but as this is quite early for the Catalan people it took a while until everyhing was ready and I think it was almost 9 AM until we could start. The breakfast consisted of some typical Catalan food including sausages, serrano ham but also of a bread done in a way that I had never tried before. This bread consisted of normal toasted bread. After toasting you put some garlic on and after the garlic you take a whole tomato (a different tomato that you can normally buy in Finland) and you drag it on the bread and after a while the whole bread turns read. After that you put some olive oil and salt and then everything is ready and you can start etaing. Felix taught us how to do this and this turned out to be very delicious.
After breakfast we were walking to the cooprative in Gratallops. The name of the cooperative is Vignicola del Priorat, Onix.
Vignicola del Priorat, Onix
First we had a short presentation about the cooperative and about wines from Priorat in general and then we moved to the bus and drove to a small village about 5 km from Gratallops. After reaching the village we walked up to vineyards. There our job was to do some harvesting. The local grapes Garnacha and Carignan were not ready yet and due to this we were harvesting some Merlot grapes. It was in the middle of the day and very hot and after a while it was quite obvious that wine harvesting is not an easy job in Priorat because everything has to be done by hand. The CEO of the co-operative Jordi Miro joined and he told that the harvesting is normally done in the mornings before it becomes to hot.
Jordi explained also in detail about wine growing in the area. Our guide from the cooperative told us that the harvesting on the area is done only by local people, mainly family and relatives to the people that own the wineries that produce grapes for the cooperative. This was quite surprising at least for me as I have earlier heard from other places that the harvesting is done by people from mainly low-cost countries. It is of course good if they are able to do all the harvesting only with local workforce and to keep it within the family.
After we had finished our job (we probably harvested something like 200 kg grapes) we moved to the cellar. This was located in the same village as the wine yards. The whole production process is made in Gratallops, but the ageing process both in barrels and in bottles is made in the cellar in the same villages as the grapes are grown.
Ònix Classic 2013
Clos Gebrat Crianza 2011
Here are some new ratings and descriptions of the wines we tasted:
Ònix Classic 2013 is made of 50% Grenache and 50% Carignan. Ithas been harvested by hand and the fermentation has been made in stainless steel vessels. No ageing in oak or bottles has been made. A recent review gives the follwing summary of the wine:
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Celler 25.9.2014: 88p 2013 Onix Classic Priorat ($23) (a blend of garnacha and samso): Deep ruby. Smoky red and dark berry aromas are deepened by notes of licorice and dark chocolate. Lively and focused in the mouth, with tangy black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors accented by a touch of cracked pepper. Finishes chewy and youthfully tannic, with good bite and length.
Clos Gebrat Crianza 2011 is made of 35% Grenache, 35 % Carignan and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is made from grapes grown in only one vineyard and it best from the best grapes. The fermentation was done in stainless steel vessels. This wine has been aged for 12 months in 225 liters oak barrels. A recent review gives the follwing summary of the wine:
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Celler 25.9.2014: 91p Vinicola del Priorat Clos Gebrat Crianza Priorat ($32) Opaque ruby. Sexy, oakspiced cherry compote and dark berry aromas are lifted by zesty mineral and cracked pepper notes, with vanilla and woodsmoke qualities in the background. Shows very good energy on the palate, offering bitter cherry and blackcurrant flavors that pick up a spicy nuance with air. Finishes taut, focused and long, with strong punch and smooth tannins sneaking in late.
Overall I think that both wines we tasted in the cellar showed good quality and according to my view the Gebrat Crianza was better, but I was quite surprised to see that both of these were already so easy to drink. I would have expected that a few years in the cellar would be needed, but I do think that they are really enjoyable already now. After the tasting we moved to a restaurant Racó del Priorat nearby we were going to have lunch.
Racó del Priorat
We arrived to the restaurant quite late at least for Finns, but in the restaurant they were in no hurry. We had to wait some time until something started to happen, but finally they started to bring something to the table. Our guide from the Vinicola had to help them with the wines and the general feeling was that at least some from the personnel seemed to be quite inexperienced. Finally they started to bring something to the table and the starters were some typical courses that we had already tasted earlier. It took some time, but there was always something going on and the plates were removed and changed to new ones. According to my personal view the personnel was either quite unexpreinced or othwerwise they were just enjoying the Sunday without taking into account that they had a group of 20 persons waiting. But they were always bringing in something new and we had the possibility to enjoy meat in different formats and overall the food was good. Unfortunately the personnel was quite slow and when we were already thinking that the the lunch was ending/had ended some new courses showed up. The lunch took finally about 3.5 hours which means that it was not a very ”light” lunch. The food and wine was good, but the personnel would need some improvement in order to speed up the process espocially when they have a big group eating in their restaurant.
During lunch we were drinking some other wines from the cooperative. The first one was:
This one is made of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah. This one has not been aged in oak and not in bottles either. As soon as it is ready it is put on the market. This was quite ok for the starters, but it was quite obvious that this was the entry level from the producer.
The other wine we had was 2011 Onix Evolucio Priorat:
This wine is made from 40% Carignan, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Grenache. The grapes are form several vineyards and the fermentation has been done in stainless steel vessels. It has been aged in 100% new French oak barrels.
A recent review gives the follwing summary of the wine:
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Celler 25.9.2014: 91p
2011 Onix Evolucio Priorat ($44) (a blend of garnacha, carinena and cabernet, all from old vines; aged in new French and American oak): Inky purple. Smoky, highpitched dark berry and oak spice scents are complemented by deeper notes of licorice and tar. Spicy and focused on entry, then fleshier in the midpalate, offering sweet black and blue fruit flavors and a suggestion of mocha. Dusty tannins come up slowly on the smoky finish, which is framed by smooth, harmonious tannins.
Overall the lunch we had was good and after we left the restaurant it was very late afternoon and we had almost directly to go to the next vinery that was Clos Figueres.
The winery was bought by Christopher and Charlotte Cannan in 1997. Their production areal is about 18 hectares and they grow Garnacha and Carignan, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cabernet Sauvignon.
We walked to the vinery that is located in Gratallops. We met the guide Miguel and he gave a brief introduction to the vinery. First he showed where grapes arrive and we also saw some barrels where the fermentation had already started.
After that we made s ahort visit to the cellar and it was very old, but it was a nice experience to see how they store and mature the wine. It was in a very personal way that Miguel told about the winery and it is always nice to see the passion that some people in the wine business show. This is soemthing that you hardly see for example in Finland and I do appreaciate that something is presneted in such a personal and passionate way. This was a great exprience to listen to Miguel and to talk to him about the work they do.
After the cellar visit we moved to their restaurant Les Figueres that was located in the same building. We started with some typical Catalan starters, bread with garlic, tomato and olive oil, but some sausages as well. This was not the first time we ate this, but it was, however, as good as always before.
Together with the starters we drank Serras del Priorat 2013 which is one of their entry level wines. This wine is made of 60% Grenache, 20% Carignan, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It has been fermented in 2 500 liters vats and finally aged during 8 months in 500 liters French oak casks. The ageing potential for this wine is accroding to the producer 8-10 years. This was a quite easy drinkable wine that worked wel together with the food they served.
The next wine was Font de la Figuera 2010. This wine is made of 60% Grenache, 10% Carignan, 30% Syrah, Mourvedre and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been fermented in 2 500 liters vats and finally aged during 12 months in 300 and 500 liters French oak casks. The ageing potential for this wine is accroding to the producer 10-12 years.
Together with the main course they served us Clos Figueres 2007. It is made from 70% Grenache and Carignan, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Grencahe and Carignan are from 30-60 year old vines. It has been produced in the following way: Microvinification” in 500 litres new oak casks (turned on their side with the top removed to form a small open-topped vat); regular “pigeage” by hand and extended maceration on the skins. 13 months ageing in new and one year old Allier oak « barriques » and casks of 225 and 300 litres each. This was a very good wine, but still quite young and this reuqires clearly a few years in the cellar in order to reach the top. This is a wine that you can keep in the cellar for quite a long time.
After Clos Figueres 2007 we also got the possibility to taste Clos Figueres 2003. This was even better and drinkable already now.
Together with the dessert we drank Clos Figueras 2012 Sweet.
Overall the wines from Clos Figueres showed very high quality and they were really good.
A long day had come to an end and during the next day we were going to Terra Alta and we were also going to prepare some food ourselves.