Monday, April 23, 2012

Mas Llunes vinyard


At 9 o'clock sharp we met outside the wine store in the village to form part of the convoy  to Mas Llunes vineyard. We were particularly interested as back in October, we'd liked their wine in a restaurant and gone looking for the vineyard. At that time, they weren't open to the public, but someone sent us up some very small streets in Garriguella to another of their premises. With the smell of fermenting grapes to guide us, we eventually found a couple of fellows pouring wine from barrels into demijohns, and they took us to the lady selling the wine.

Today we started our visit in the flat part of the vineyard where the granache is grown in the clay soil.  All the vines are planted in a north south direction, to minimize damage from the tramontana -- strong winds of the Pyrenees. Up on the hills where the soil is more slatey, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, samso, red granache and syrah are grown. Strong wires act as a frame as the grapes grow, always with the leaves and grapes facing out to the sun. We were very fortunate that Pilar, our guide, spoke English. The vineyard has been in the Roig family for many generations and it was really lovely to be hosted by them.

Inside, the wine making process was explained to us from the removing of stalks from the vines, crushing the grapes, fermenting the wine in huge steel vats for twenty days to the final bottling. Deep down in the basement we visited a vast room filled with French oak barrels filled with ageing wines. Some stay in the barrels for six months to two years depending on the wine, then they go into bottles and lie flat for further ageing. The dessert wines stay in the barrels for up to ten years.

Then came my favourite part, the wine tasting. A big table was set out with a huge variety of cold meats, cheeses and big slabs of bread which had been 'rubbed down' with tomatoes and olive oil. We started with one white then another, Nivia. The owner sat at the head of the table and discussed the wines. Our glasses were washed out with rose before we tasted it. The bottles were passed around for you to pour your own taste. I tried to keep my tastes small as the wines went up to 15.5% alcohol. If you didn't finish there was a big silver wine bucket in the middle of the table for the slops.

Then came the reds. The first was the one we'd had before, followed by Rhodes, a blend of samso, red granache, syrah and merlot from vines over a hundred years old. This was our favourite. Next came an even older wine, Emporion but it needed a bit more ageing. New glasses were brought out for the dessert wine, which tasted like sherry, lovely and all served with hazelnut biscotti and another drier dessert biscuit. Yummy!! Finally, we sampled a non labelled muscat, which we tasted with cheese. It really did explode in your mouth and changed the taste. I've always known about food and wine pairings but this was the first time I truly tasted a difference in taste with the food. We were sorry that we missed the granache festival in Gariguella last week where over 700 kilograms of banuyles -- small, light, sugary doughnuts -- were consumed. Now there's a pairing.

By now It was after one o'clock and time to go. What an interesting time meeting new people from the village and learning about another vineyard and their wines. Now for a nap.

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