The Long & Winding Road

 

Recently I visited the famous wine area Priorat, in Spain, a little two hours drive from Barcelona.

Don’t go there if :

1) you like crowded places

2) you prefer light and quick dining, or popping in somewhere for some fast food

 3) using Foursquare is one of your favorite hobbies, allthough if you will be able to check in somewhere, you will become mayor, that’s for sure.

4) you don’t like driving on  long and winding roads, like my travelmate said, this Beatles song has never been more suitable than in this area.

But if these former points don’t scare you off, go and visit this beautiful area! In Priorat area there are about 90 wineries, who produce Priorat DOQ wines( Denominació d’Origen Qualificada).This area is famous for its powerful red wines, made of garnacha tinta(which you will see in all the older vineyards, carinena and some foreign grape varieties like cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah.

Most wines are blends of the grapes, mentioned before. The soil, which is of volcanic origin,  consists of reddish and black slate and quartz, in Spanish referred to as llicorella. The soil reminded me of the one I’ve seen in the Douro Valley. They say the name llicorella stems from the Catalan word for licorice, because it’s  black, somewhat shiny rocky, and is high in mineral content. The hard rock forces the vines to go deeper to find the water and limits the yields.

Most wineries use French oak barrels, all grapes are picked by hand, which you can imagine if you see the steep slopes, which is  problaby one of  the reasons that Priorat wines are rather expensive. Ofcourse the fact that Parker, discovered this area, will take part aswell. If you enter a wineshop, you’ll find the cheapest priorat for 10 euro’s, and the most expensive one I’ve seen so far was about 278 euros. Not very strange that most of these wines are not bought by locals, but find their ways into several countries all over the world.

But if you might not like the wines, which I can not imagine, then you can also go there for the amazing food, the very friendly people, medieval villages and the stunning nature, hiking there must be incredible!

If you ‘ll ever be in Falset, don’t forget to book a table in this restaurant http://www.cellerdelaspic.com/  Absolutely the best crema catalana, ever eaten, heavenly! They also have an impressive winelist.

And in case you’ll wonder, this was not sponsored by the tourism council of Priorat;-) Go there!!!

First picture: www.bodegasmasalta.com

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The emptier the bottle..

I loved to find out about the JLF test, invented by a German guy. JLF means Je Leerer die Flasche (desto besser der wein), which is German for The Emptier the Bottle (the better the wine).

The test is about having a few bottles on the table and just drink them with friends, accompanied by some food. Everyone takes a first sip of each wine and tells what he thinks of it. After that, the normal drinking starts. You may not spit them, but you’ll have to drink them. 

The winning wines are the ones who are the most empty, measured in centimeters of wine left in the bottle. I love this idea, because I think most of the time it’s more important to just drink and enjoy the wine, than completely overanalyzing it, or judge it by giving points.

I had to think about this story, while I was drinking this wine with a friend during dinner: Cascina Garitina, Niades, Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG 2009, Piemonte

This wine is a red, fizzy Piemonte wine, made of 100 % brachetto grapes, a grape variety which you’ll only find in Italy, as far as I know.

Be prepared, that if you will ever taste this purple-red, fizzy sweet wine, it will cause a real fruit-explosion in your mouth. Never tasted so much concentration of blackberries, raspberries, rose-hip and elderberries before, without getting bored.

After my first sip, I couldn’t say it was very complex or really very elegant, but it turned out that we couldn’t stop drinking it. Needless to say there was not a millimeter left in the bottle.

It matched wonderfully well with my homemade chocolate truffles, with rosemary and seasalt. But why wait till dessert to drink this wine?

www.cascinagaritina.it