07-05-2012

Microvins, the smaller they are, the bigger they taste

In Catalonia, single varietal wines aren’t the norm. Typically, what you get in a bottle, is a blend of several different varietals and is an artform performed by the enologs in the area. These blends are how life has been at la Vinyeta and we’ve documented the progress of the various wines coming to sale over the years via a number of articles, as well as in our extensive Empordà wine guide.

One of the last wines to be released was the Mig Mig, but that was still a blend, although one of only two wines: Marselan and Grey Grenache (Garnatxa Roja). But, apparently the time has come for Josep Serra i Pla to release a single varietal wine. In this case, he’s created a new bottling called, “Microvins”. There is a red and a white which are both derived from 100% Carignan.

Now, Carignan has something of a bad rap as any wine can get that’s been over planted and grown purely to produce a lot of juice. Where these Microvins are different is that they’re from very old vines. In these conditions and with the proper winemaking skill, a rather glorious wine can be created. Toss in to this the fact that these grapes are harvested from nine separate, small vineyards to create the final wine. Thus the origin of the name in that “small vineyards” = “microvins”. Don’t worry, they’re still 750ml bottles.

The white (blanc) is interesting and a great deal different than other white bottlings in the area. These grapes come from 80-100 year-old vineyards that are a bit higher in elevation, near the small village of Espolla. One of them is even terraced and they needed a good deal of recovery before they started producing enough juice to bottle. The wine is lightly tart at first and opens up, brightening until it reaches a point of pleasing minerality in the background. Good for food and good to enjoy all around on a hot day, it’s a wine that we enjoy.

For me, what really stands out is the red (negre) which is from vineyards that are 50-100 years-old. In the glass, it’s a glowing, lively red; a hue that is only found in the best of these Carignans. Upon first opening, the nose is dry and dusty. The body tosses out a stout acidity with a dry finish. As it decants, the nose gets no end of subtle. The body boasts dried fruits like figs, prunes, and apricots. After a half hour decanting, it smooths out even more, but stays incredibly light on the palate. It also is light for the drinker as you really don’t feel the alcohol and could sip on it all day long.

This line of wines is unique and is most definitely a worthy addition to Josep’s growing portfolio of bottles. If you want to taste them, you’ll have to wait a bit though as they’re not going to be fully released until September. Our tasting bottles didn’t even have labels yet. The target price is set to be a bit less than 20€. Check them out if you get the chance, although they’ll be quite limited in bottle numbers (1,000 each) which will require a stop in at the winery to get a hold of them, as well as the next Mig Mig which seems to sell out as soon as its released.