I talked about the wines of Empordà (Girona) a few weeks ago. Now, I bring the issue back up after having visited a couple of wineries few days ago and tasted a lot of wines from the area at the DO Empordà wine fair held in Barcelona last Monday 28th. In just a few words: the overall quality is going up year after year while a new paradigm has arisen (a sweet one).
I say that a “sweet paradigm” has arisen because Mas Llunes Garnatxa d’Empordà Solera, a sweet wine made of Grenache, has won an award as the “best wine in Catalunya.” This wine has taken ten years to come to the market, and I am quite sure that this recognition will boost the interest in and sales of a traditional product carried by a number of wineries, e.g. Celler Pere Guardiola, Masía Serra and Celler Arché Pagès, which was practically unknown to the everyday consumer. I am willing to bet that this will be different from now on under the flagship of Mas Llunes. This, in turn, will benefit all those wineries that have managed to keep producing these singular wines despite their low commercial value: a long term investment that will prove fruitful to those wineries committed to quality, authenticity and tradition.
In addition to Mas Llunes, there are several other wineries doing interesting things. For example, Can Sais produces a sparkling wine made of Grenache (just 300 bottles at the moment). It has a pungent acidity and a very smooth bubble, features that will give the opportunity for good food-wine pairings.
Gelamà produces a nice white wine based on Macabeu. I hope they will bottle their fine oaked and aged Macabeu (a pity that there couldn’t be more than 300 bottles of this as well).
Celler Hugas de Batlle located in the small village of Colera, just few kilometers from France, is another winery that surprised me. They have just two wines. A white one made of Garnatxa blanca and Muscat; and a red one made of Garnatxa negra and Cabernet Sauvignon. Less than 10.000 bottles all together, which are enough to put this winery on the map (if the Tramuntana, the northern wind, does not take the vines away…)
They represent what I think is the future of the D.O. Empordà -that is, they manage to control the alcohol and the astringency in the red wines, giving complexity to them, while prioritizing freshness and elegance for the white ones. As a result, the white wines are crisp, smooth and well balanced; and the red ones are half bodied, fresh and fragrant, with well-controlled astringency and alcohol-level.
I’m eager to come back to the area, visit some wineries, tour the picture postcard villages and enjoy its excellent local gastronomy (El Bulli was based here, and El Celler de Can Roca is nearby… coincidence?).