(2016) Montsant in the northeast of Spain, neighbouring the much more expensive Priorat, makes broadly similar wines at generally lower prices. This has a lot of forward charms, buxom and open, but I loved its meaty, dark and bloody tones set against the huge sweetess of ripe fruit on the mid-palate. Deliciously tangy and vibrant too, edged with a charcoal and chocolate bittersweetness. It's fab wine and great value for drinking with casseroles and stews, indeed any red meat or dark game.
(2011) With 13.5% alcohol, this 50/50 blend of white Grenache and Macabeu is fermented in 300-litre French oak barrels and aged on its lees for six months. It has a pale gold colour and quite a mealy, rich nose of melon and melon skins, with some spices and some salty notes. On the palate this is dry and has a salty-savoury character. There's lemon and underripe apple giving this cut and acidity. It perhaps lacks a little fruit weight and fat on the mid-palate, but a hint of ripeness plays against the acid structure in a reasonably long, food-friendly style.
(2011) Composed of 90% Carignan with 5% each of Shiraz and Grenache, this 13.5% ABV rosé is given six months of lees-ageing. It has quite a deep, vibrant crimson/cherry colour and a nose showing a light raspberry fruitiness though it is not terribly distinct. On the palate the sweetness of the fruit comes through to give a little strawberry and raspberry jam note, though the keen acidity pushes through, giving this quite a fresh, if slightly short finish showing a touch of heat.
(2011) A cuvée of 100% Grenache, this has 14% alcohol and spends four months on older, 400-litre French oak barrels. A youthful and dense crimson colour, this has an attractive nose that is bright with berry fruits, some spice and blackcurrant jam fruitiness. On the palate there's plenty of fruit sweetness and a fairly smooth texture, a hint of chocolate even. The oak is barely discernible, the tannins quite fine but leaving the mouth bone dry, with a tart edge from keen acidity and the alcohol.
(2011) A blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Carignan that spends twelve months in larger French oak barrels. The colour is deep, but with a mellow edge. Much darker, more gamy nuances here, with some leather and a much more robust character. On the palate the fruit has a sweetness and concentration, a sweet focus of raspberry and cherry, but quite decisive acidity comes through, giving this a very dry finish, some spice and a little oaky roundness helping offset a slightly angular acid and tannin. Layered and quite complex, another big wine with 14% alcohol, but bags of character.
(2011) A 50/50 blend of Grenache and Carignan with 14% ABV, this is a special selection of grapes in the vineyard, aged for 10 months in French and American oak barrels of 300- and 400-litres. This pours a deep crimson/purple colour, with a big spicy, creamy black fruit nose. There's tobacco and a touch of vanilla, but cherry and plum-pie fruit is dominant. On the palate the fruit is creamily sweet and opulent, though big, grippy tannins sweep in almost immediately to dry this and add roughening spice and texture. Acidity is quite high again, and the double whammy of tannin and acid gives this a drying and slightly aggressive finish that would surely marry with a few more years in bottle, or perhaps now with a juicy steak or grilled lamb chops.
(2011) The blend and winemaking is the same, though this vintage has 14.5% ABV. Deep, dark colour, with lovely scents of bramble and black berry fruit, wreathed with smokiness and with plush vanilla and spice underpinning. On the palate this is a big, spicy, vanilla and chocolate laden wine that is clearly very modern and somewhat 'international' in style, but the depth and ripeness of fruit and the silky texture of the more polished tannins really works well to round and smooth the edges. The tannins and acidity still dry the finish slightly, and stop this from flowing freely into the finish, but a delicious wine.
(2006) The top cuvée, made from 80% Syrah, 15% Garnacha and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, though from 2005 this will be 100% Syrah, from the originally planted, 25-year-old vines and harvested at a very low 15hl/ha yield. It is aged in all French oak for 14 months, half new, half one year old. A touch closed, with possibly the merest touch of reduction, this would benefit from decanting or aerating. Lovely blackberry nose emerges, with a beautiful juiciness and touches of earth and charcoal, and some very attractive violet notes. The palate has such fine, ripe, pure black fruit. It has a juiciness and a lean, muscular, very structured palate bit with masses of black fruit at its core, and such good, tight, supple tannins. Good acidity too, with a really clean, racy finish. Very racy and fine, a real savoury food wine with great quality.
(2006) Barrel sample. Very pure blackcurrant and blackberry pastille fruit on the nose. Fine, cedary, and very attractive. A touch of earth and very nice fudge background. Lovely palate too, with terrific fruit sweetness and concentration. Very high acidity and powerful tannins; plenty of bite and a dry, dusty savoury quality. Lots of dry extract. And finishes with lovely fruit and tannin complexity.
(2006) Fortified wine from 50 year-old Grenache which is very low yielding. Picked overripe (at the end of October, rather than the early September for dry cuvées) there is around 80 - 90 gm/l of residual sugar. The wine is matured in barrels in a hot environment, and has a lovely pale colour and a fine little rancio note. There's a walnut and raisin character and a fine raspberry and orange peel, with a touch of leaf tea. Beautiful fruit freshness, with a delightful, pure fruit, notes of red cherry and blackberry, but that lovely warmth of walnut, vanilla and dried fruits comes through. Fine chocolate and tobacco notes, with delightful acidity and still a lick of very fine tannins against the sweet, intense fruit and all that orange pithy acidity. Terrific wine with fantastic length.