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Monday, May 23, 2016

Jordi Domenech: Priorat's Busiest Winemaker by Philip S. Kampe

                                                           Jordi Domenech
                                                          Steep vineyards
                                                       Celler Jordi Domenech

Winemaker Jordi Domenech is bigger then life.

Literally, by day Jordi works for Miro, a high-end vermouth producer and by night and weekends he helps his wife run their Bar Restaurant, he babysits their young son and somehow finds time to work on the vineyard, preparing for the harvest and the wine making that follows.

The day that I spent with Jordi, I met his son, ate dinner at the family restaurant, met his wife, walked Finca Les Comes, his vineyard, went to his wine cellar, sampled his wines and had a glass of Miro vermouth at the end of a tapas dinner at his families restaurant.

Jordi Domenech is charismatic, positive, passionate and a true family man. His goals and aspirations are large and achievable. He is an impressive winemaker. Jordi, an oenoligist, gained his wine experience at various wine companies..

His fascination, as he says, is with the Priorat region.

In 2006 Finca Les Comes was created. His plots are located within the historic Priorat township of Poboleda. Historically, in Poboleda, vines have been cultivated from the 12th century until phylloxera killed the vines in the 1800's.

Jordi stressed that the vines he cultivates on his thirty acres, range in age from 5 to 35 years old. He has only cultivated  a small portion of his acreage and has many acres to grow his vineyard for the future.

All tasks are performed manually. The land is steep and hard to maneuver. Slate dominates the terrain, known as llicorella, the typical soil of Priorat.

Rainfall does not exist in the summer, where daytime to nighttime temperatures fluctuate thirty degrees Fahrenheit. With less water and nutrients, the grapes excel in the concentration of sugars, which enhances structure, from the low-yielding vines.

Finca Les Comes focuses on red wines. The two that we sampled, Petit Clos Penat and Clos Penat, were made-up of Garnacha and Syrah. The DOC Priorat wines are aged in French oak barrels from eight (Petit Clos Penat) to fourteen months (Clos Penat).

As a young winemaker, Jordi's talents exceed his age. The two red wines we sampled at his restaurant were made by a veteran winemaker, one that knows intimately, the grapes he work with.

Mr. Domenech is that  type of winemaker.


                        The French oak barrels in the Celler of Jordi Domenech

                                                      Petit Vlos Penat 2012
                                                           Clos Penat 2010
                                                    The entrance to the Celler
                                                      Jordi at the family restaurant
The Wines:
Clos Penat 2010
80% Garnacha  20% Syrah
Aged 14 months in French oak barrels
Alcohol 14.5%
Production: 2,500 bottles
An intense, concentrated, dark fruit forward wine that rolls its velvety texture off your tongue and coats your palate with a long, strawberry finish. There is a freshness and ripeness to the wine that is drenched with soft tannins and ample acidity. Cherry red in color, the aromatics suggest red raspberry, dark chocolate with an orange spice background.  Clos Penat is ready to drink, if decanted, but, would intensify in flavor if left to age 3-5 years.

Petit Clos Penat 2012
80% Garnacha   20% Syrah
Aged 8 months in French oak barrels
Alcohol  14.5%
Production: 10,000 bottles
A medium-bodied, brilliant cherry color wine that hypnotizes you with its fruity aromas of kiwi, red plum, red raspberry and banana, followed by a faint spicy milk chocolate fragrance. The palate comes alive with a lively mixture of red and black berries that sail motionless in the mineral laden, flavorful, persistent wine.

When asked about his wines at the dinner table, Jordi Domenesch stated that the Petit Clos Penat 2012 was created to be an easy, drinking wine that, in our lingo, could be considered a 'go-to' wine. He went on to elaborate that the wine can pair favorably with many foods, which he proved with the tapas dinner that was served to us. Courses ranged from potatoes with squid to meatballs in tomato sauce.

On the other hand, the Clos Penat 2010, according to Jordi was' a more classic style, with more complexity and more volume with a deep flavor. Although the same blend exists for the two different wines, when people see both labels, they think it is the same wine, just in two different bottles. The flavor is so different after they taste the two, they realize how much of a mistake they have made'.

Celler Jordi Domenech is a winery that is in the incubation stage, small and manageable, with growth in its future. His name is one to remember. He is bigger then life.

To learn more about the wines of Celler Jordi Domenech, visit

Philip S. Kampe

Monday, May 16, 2016

'A Day in Barcelona' or 'Putting 22,500 Steps to Good Use' by Philip S. Kampe

                                                       Nuria, Diane and Manos


                                                          Coffee near the Basilica

I have spent much time in Barcelona during the past several years. It is my wife’s favorite walking city. We have come on vacation and I have come on assignment.

This little tale of ‘A Day in Barcelona’ encompasses day one, the day three journalists, Diane, Manos and myself arrive at the Barcelona airport at 7am on a Sunday.

Our assignment begins on Monday.

We were met at the airport by our friend and trip coordinator, Nuria Ruiz, a wonderful and charming woman who organizes and facilitates journalist’s visits to the vineyards and restaurants of Catalonia.

It was early and as we drove into the center of Barcelona, we noticed that the streets were empty. Today was going to be a free day and one that was in the hands of Nuria. We were her sheep, following whatever she thought best for us.


                                                     Basilica de la Sagrada Familia
We were dropped off near the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s architectural masterpiece, a basilica dedicated to God and the expression of light. It was a bit too early to enter, so we found a lovely, local outdoor café and had coffee to attempt to wake us up from jet lag. We managed to talk long enough for us to hear the mass bells ringing in the background. That was our cue to visit the church, observe mass and apply for press passes to view the Basilica.

Our day had begun. We managed to spend four hours inside this magical architectural wonder.

Afterwards, we wandered through the streets of Barcelona, clocking, 22,500 steps, according to my reliable IPhone.

During the course of our walk, Nuria telephoned two friends to meet us for lunch, one was the legendary Ramon Raventos, a restaurant aficionado and founder of and Merche Dalman Cartes, owner of the well known vineyard, Clos Galena ( ).

The plan was to meet us for lunch at the BOCA Grande restaurant, , located in an ally, just off the Passeig de Grande, which is one of the main shopping streets in Barcelona.

We followed the plan, met inside of this overwhelming restaurant and that is where our introduction to the classical food of Catalonia began. We ate family style, drank bottles of cava and wine with our hosts and had a grand time. Service was  impeccable, the dishes were memorable and sophisticated.

BOCA Grande lived up to its reputation and relishes the ‘savoir faire’ style of service in an age where good service, high standards and quality cooking are a key to success. Add the visual uniqueness, designed by Lazaro Rosa Violan, of BOCA Grande and you have a restaurant that can stand on its laurels.

After a three hour tapas and main course meal, our party, now of six, chose to take the all, too familiar, after Sunday lunch walk.

Walking for hours, through the maze of beautiful and historical Barcelona only made me envious of those two million that live in the metro area.

Manos, a fellow journalist on the trip, had an assignment to write an article on Barcelona’s tapas offerings. Our culinary guide for the day, Ramon Raventos, suggested that we visit Chef Daniel Rueda’s two tapas bars, named Tapeo and Tapeo Bar, ( ).  We took his advice, had an amazing two hours of various tapas from both locations and managed to drink a bottle of Merche’s, Clos Galena 14.5%, well-balanced, fruit forward and velvety, red wine..

It looks like our 22,500 steps on Day one in Barcelona were put to good use.

                                                           Sagrada Familia

                                                      Tapas ar BOCA Grande
                                                    Grilled Turbot at BOCA Grande
                                                    Olive oil from Clos Galena
                                                             Catalonia Wine
                                                              BOCA Grande

                                                             More dessert

Philip S. Kampe