20 years old, we have to celebrate
An area of strong red wines with a long finish. Peeking at the glass you see a deep pomegranate red color and when you sniff them they smell strongly of red cherries, prunes, raisins and strawberry jam. That first sip feels silky smooth on your tongue. So endearing and seductive because of the soft tannins and deep flavours.
At the end of last year we were surprised by an e-mail from DO Montsant, in which they festively informed us that their designation of origin has been in existence for 20 years. We are often asked how we would describe the wines from Montsant. The wine description that started this story comes very close, but there is so much more behind it.
The expert's view
We spoke with Miquel Hudin (wine writer, journalist and expert on Catalan wines) about this special area. Hudin: “In terms of allure, Montsant is of course somewhat in the shadow of its big brother Priorat, who is also the neighbour. Although there are significantly fewer iconic wines from Montsant than from Priorat, it is unfair that the former is described as a kind of 'cheap Priorat'. The style is simply too different for that. We know Priorat from the steep slopes and the Llicorella soil that gives minerality to the wine. Montsant is indeed hilly, but a lot flatter, so the vineyards have much more sun hours and heat. In addition, the bottom is also of a completely different composition. You can taste all of that in the wines.”
Miquel concluded his story with another striking development in the 20 years that Montsant has had its own designation of origin. “In the beginning, there were many cooperatives that made wine in large quantities from plots scattered all over the area. So that was one big mishmash. Fortunately, more and more small wine producers have been added over the years. They make wine in small numbers and often from a single vineyard. This brings out the taste of the area, the soil and the climate much better. This also makes it much easier to identify the typical taste of wine from Montsant.”
A small, ancient winery
One of those small wineries is Vinyes d'en Gabriel from the village of Darmòs. For the origin of Vinyes d'en Gabriel, we have to go back more than 150 years. When Joan Rofes inherited a mansion, he planted his own vineyard there. And voilà: the foundation for an age-old family tradition had been laid. Josep Maria Anguera is a fourth generation winemaker and set up the winery as it looks in the 21st century. He cultivates the 12 hectares of vines all by himself. An inspiring man who attaches great value to his biodynamic way of working. He even considers the position of the moon when harvesting and making wine. All to make honest, expressive and authentic wines.
'Perhaps the best Garnatxa wine'
The jewel in the wine collection of Vinyes d'en Gabriel is the Cuvilà, made from 100% Garnatxa. The Cuvilà is not just any Garnatxa wine from Montsant. This is perhaps the best wine we know from this typical Spanish grape variety. Not familiar with Garnatxa? Perhaps the name Grenache sounds more familiar to you, that's how it is called in France. Garnatxa likes heat. So it's a great place to stay, in the sometimes sweltering Montsant.
The Cuvilà is aged for 12 months in oak barrels and 3 months in cement tanks. This gives the wine its pure fruit taste, intense color and infinite complexity. The label has a typical stone. A gypsum stone with oxidized iron, to be exact. A pure, natural expression of the landscape with an elegant taste. Velvety soft on the tongue and full body. In a word heavenly. As the Catalans say: déu n'hi do!
Wines like these prove that Montsant is worth exploring further. Their 20th anniversary is something to celebrate big. Mouth watering, we open a bottle of Cuvilà.
See the best Montsant has to offer by here to click.