09-01-2011

The Baix of Empordà

Mas Oller is one of the new wineries to spring up in the DO Empordà region. It’s rather ironic that there are all these new wineries given that wine has been grown in the region for the last 2,600 years, first brought in by those saintly Greeks. We weren’t aware of it when we went for a tasting, but apparently this year was the very first release. They planted the 12 hectares of vines on this old estate back in 2000 and this was when they felt the fruit had enough flavor to properly produce the wines, which says something as you get decent production after five years and they could have started a good deal earlier.

Located near the small town of Torrent, the vicinity where Mas Oller is located has not been historically known for producing wines as Baix Empordà in general was a great deal more fertile than Alt Empordà. So the land was used primarily for farming other crops such as wheat, corn, and other general vegetables. In fact the owner of the estate, Carlos Esteva was actually making wine over in the much more well-known region of Penedès before starting up the Mas Oller winery.

We found the wines favorable overall and we tasted a great variety, starting with those that are bottled now in the first year of release and then moving to the tanks to taste what is yet to come. First on the list was the 2008 Blau (‘blue’ in English.) It’s a mix of Syrah and Garnatxa. Obviously this leads to a wine deep in color. It’s initially soft on the palate but gets a bit more bold with air and remains quite fruit forward all along. I would probably best equate it to being like a $25-30 Zinfandel from Napa, although this wine is 8€. Next was the 2008 Pur. It’s a blend of Cabernet, Syrah, and Garnatxa that spends two months in French oak. The bouquet is quite plush in the mouth initially and the wine is rather bold overall.

This was an interesting first tasting of this winery’s first year of releases. We’re curious to see which direction they head with the next if it will be moving towards more of this schmancy stuff that seems to be what a lot of Spain is producing these days and targeting towards the export market. As long as they don’t mess with the Mas Oller, we’ll be a happy camper/customer.

Typical Catalan meal.

Learn more about the wines, wineries, and history of Empordà in our Empordà, Catalonia enotourism guide