16th September 2013
Spanish wines, no newcomer to the international scene, have been coveted by wine connoisseurs for over two thousand years. Nowadays, this trend continues, despite short term variations in the marketplace of consumer preference.
Among the elite group of wineries that produce an excellent product and the vintners that make it possible, René Barbier, owner of Clos Mogador, stands out. Located in Gratallops, a small village in Priorat under the umbrella of the DOQ Priorat (Qualified Denomination of Origin), René is devoted to achieving, in his own words, a “great wine”. Upon tasting them, it remains open to discussion as to whether his wines are -as he says- very good or great, but it is unquestionable that they enjoy a high standard of quality. To understand why they are so sought after one has to know what “terroir” means, a concept well developed and understood in France but underappreciated in Spain. It is not only the specific soil or geographical coordinates that give character to a wine, but the vintner’s treatment of the vines and the wine-making process. To truly understand this triangle – and its intended product – is to understand the personal commitment, the costs, and the time involved.
For me, this is one of René’s most salient qualities. He is committed to his wines regardless of fleeting trends, and keeps working hard, with humility and patience, following his own path to achieve what he is seeking.
I have had the chance to follow his output for a number of years and I would say that his wines (two red wines, Clos Mogador, Manyetes; and a white one, Nelin) improve greatly with age. Keep your bottles for a few years and you will have no cause to complain! Another important thing: if possible, decant the wine several hours before drinking it. These wines are like me when I first wake up, i.e. they need some time before they start showing their true character!
I’ve enjoyed several bottles within the last months. An opulent and deep Manyetes 2004 brought me directly to seventh heaven. I also tried a delicate food pairing: steak Tartar with a Nelin 2007, a full bodied, smooth wine with a lot of character. Few days ago, at Moritz headquarters in Barcelona, we tasted Clos Mogador 2010, Manyetes 2010 and Nelin 2010. The three of them were excellent and ready to drink, though they are just as ready to be cellared for a few years as well. We ended with a great spirit called La quinta essència dels llops. It is very, very delicate, with a full range of floral and fruity aromas.