03-04-2012

The quietly fantastic wines of Martí Fabra

When it comes to making wines for a long time, the Martí Fabra family has been doing it since the end of the 13th century; maybe even earlier. The date of their old family house is 1293 and that’s just when they know that their family cellar was established. The building is quite impressive as it’s built directly on to the bedrock below it and looks as if it could repel any attack from marauding wine pirates.

They farm all of their vineyards organically, although they aren’t certified as such given the degree of paperwork required. They are helped a good deal by the Tramuntana wind which blows on their vineyards year round. Overall their wines are very honest to the grapes that comprise them and proudly boast the locale from which they come from as opposed to the barrel in which they’re aged.

And this is the thing about their wines overall; they’re honest. Sure, oak is used on some of them for aging, but it’s not used to hide the grape and pervert it. Joan, the current family winemaker is an easygoing guy and he gives the feeling that he’s quite happy to let his wines explain themselves. No oak bombs. No burning hot, high alcohol bottles. Just, subtle and wonderfully complex wines are very fair prices.

Verd Albera 2010 blends White Grenache, Muscat, and Chardonnay. It’s a young wine and has a decent level of citrus to the nose with a touch of lime and pepper. The body is quite even-tempered overall, decently plush in the mouth, and has a dose of acidity with background minerality. The finish is fast and clean with just a hint of acidity.

L’Oratori 2008 is only aged in the stainless tanks, but it gives an impression of oak aging. The name comes from the vineyard which sources the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, and Syrah to present a rather complex wine. The nose warms up the glass and the body is full in the mouth with strong tannins. The finish is quick and tight, making for a very enjoyable wine overall.

Els Estanys 2007 is a single vineyard Carignan from old vines of which they only make 800 bottles. It receives 20 months in the barrels and is a softer Carignan as these grapes ripen much slower than others. Despite the time in the barrel, the nose comes up quite soft, with just a small dusting of the oak. The body is a bit more tart and dry with oak that carries in to the finish. The soft tannins and strong structure of the wine are impressive for a Carignan and Joan has designed this for long term aging.

Read full reviews for all their wines, as well as many others in the region, in our Empordà wine guide.