Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Celler Cercavins: inland southern Catalonia's Most Unusual Blended Wines by Philip S. Kampe


    Caller  Cercavins  Partners Josep Sole, Flavia Serret and Josep Hernandez

Costers del Segre is a small, hot arid region in the northeast portion of Spain. It is an area known for dry, desert like conditions where water is at a premium. Only the strong winemakers survive.

And that is the case of Celler Cercavins in Lleida, located in inland southern Catalonia and under the Spanish Denomination of Origin Costers del Segre.

Enologist, Enrique Gil and three partners, Josep Sole, Flavia Serret and Josep Hernandez, produce some of the most interesting and unusual fruit-driven wine blends in the world. With close to 125 acres and altitudes ranging from 700-2000 feet, this trio of partners rely on winemaker Enrique Gil’s expertise to produce world-class wines from the sand and limestone laden vineyards. The poor soil lacks organic components and produces small grapes with deep flavors.

In 2003, international varieties, such as, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Macabeo were planted next to the Parellada and Verdejo grapes that already existed. Since 2003, other varieties have been planted.

At the same time, a modern, new winery and cellar were built in the village of Verdu, a small town known worldwide for its ceramics. That is where I sampled some of the nine wines from Celler Cercavins.

Each wine had its own personality, was unique and well blended for optimum flavor. The majority of the wines are Penin rated and award winners.

Production was substantial and availability in America exists, especially for Guillamina, a white blend of Sauvignon Blanc (54%); Garnacha White (19%); Gewurztraminer (14%) and Albarino (5%), a wine I had sampled earlier at the Macondo restaurant on Houston Street in New York City. Aged for two months in stainless steel, this somewhat vegetal wine with tropical tones is a wonderful seafood and goat cheese wine.

These are some of the wines from Celler Cercavins that were of interest:

Lo Virol White
Grapes: Garnacha White (45%); Sauvignon Blanc (34%); Gewurztraminer (10%); Albarino (5%)
Production: 7,000 bottles
Alcohol: 13.5%
This wine had tropical characteristics with a rich, deep backbone of concentrated fruit flavors that were crisp, fresh and lingered on the palate. I paired it with the special snails from Catalonia and found that this wine held up well with the snails.

Grape: Macabeo (100%)
Production: 4,000 bottles
Alcohol: 13.5%
Ageing: Four months in American, Hungarian and French oak
Penin Guide: 89 points and the Silver Bacchus Medal Winner
Complex, acidic, balanced. This wine has character and a creamy richness that stands alone.

Bru de Verdu
Grapes: Tempranillo (68%); Syrah (20%); Merlot (12%)
Production:70,000 bottles
Alcohol: 14%
Ageing: 6 months in French, Hungarian and American oak
Penin Guide 87 points: Gold Medals in Shanghai and Canada: Silver Bacchus
An amazing wine, full of unusual flavors highlighted with spice, figs, caramel and red raspberries.

Bru de Verdu 14
Grapes: Syrah (46%); Merlot (27%); Tempranillo (27%)
Production: 7,000 bottles
Alcohol: 14%
Ageing: 14 months in both French and American oak
Penin Guide: 90 points: Bronze Medal decanter 2016; Gold Medal Bruxelles
Complex, powerful and made for steaks, this rich, concentrated wine stands alone.
Certainly a wine for ageing, as the potential should blossom year to year. Hands down, this was my absolute favorite red wine from Celler Cercavins.

Winemaker Enrique Gil makes fabulous wines that should be on your horizon. Others that I enjoyed were:
Lo Virol Rose  Syrah(100%)
Lo Virol Red  Tempranillo (80%); Syrah (12%); Merlot (8%)
Terra Ferma  Tempranillo (75%) Syrah (25%)


                                     Arid and dry sandy topsoil with limestone underneath

                                               Getting the lay of the land with the partners



                                               Author: Philip S. Kampe


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