07-02-2017

The white wines of Penedès

A logical starting point in any article about Catalan white wines is DO Penedès. They are by far the largest wine producing region in Catalonia and 80% of what they produce is in the form of white wine.

While seen as something of a go-to reference when you wanted an innocuous white wine for a meal, the last 8-10 years has seen a massive change in their approach and the rise of both smaller producers as well as the larger ones making more craft wines. One of the most important changes is that they’ve made a huge effort to “own” the grape, Xarel·lo and in the process, they’ve put forth the punt volat, a character no English language publication can ever correctly write, but more importantly, they’ve created some fine, fine wines with a nearly unparalleled aging ability.

Following are the wines tasted for this report in Decanter that met the minimum cutoff of 85 points. Note that I could have easily tasted 10 times more than these but they needed to be available for sale in the UK and I also requested more “notable” wines which I can only assume is why there’s such a wonderful dominance of Xarel·lo.

Domènech Vidal – Cultivare 2013
Starbright lemon. Creamy melon, light, delicate apple blossoms, mature pear, and many layers of texture. Beautiful in the mouth with excellent and integrated acidity and citric notes that flows into a lingering, long finish in the mouth.

100% Xarel·lo 11.5%
***

Can Ràfols dels Caus – La Calma 2012
Lemon, starbright. Apricot, white peach, creaminess, as well as light floral notes. Light and succulent in the body, very lovely balance and interplay of acidity and structure that don’t overwhelm each other. Lingering floral finish.

100% Chenin Blanc 13%
***

Mas Candí – La Pura 2014
Bright lemon, greenish tinge. Grapefruit and green apple, good chalky mineraly component, and a touch of bitter melon. Very even and balanced in the mouth despite the bit more than medium acidity. Tasty and lively with a lengthy finish.

100% Xarel·lo 13%
**

Martí Serdà – El Xitxarel·lo 2015
Bright lemon. Melon, white pear, crisp mintiness, light yellow blossoms. Crisp and lively in the mouth, more pear comes up as well as strong, yet balanced acidity and a clean, savory finish.

100% Xarel·lo 12%
**

Finca Parera – Sassó 2014
Pale straw. Bit of bruised apple, bacon, potpourri, and saline notes. Balanced in the mouth with medium plus acidity, and a crisp, lively finish that lingers a long time. 2017-2020

100% Xarel·lo 13%
**

Augustus Forum – Xarel·lo (+100) 2014
Pale lemon. Lemon pith, yellow peach, sweet spices, white pepper, and apricot as well as minor red apple. Crisp and citric in the mouth with red apple notes more prevalent, good persistence and acidity.

100% Xarel·lo 12.5%
**

Sabaté i Coca – Terroja 2014
Bright lemon. Ripe white peach, lemon citrus, bit of crisp apple, chalky minerality. Lively and quite pleasing in the mouth. medium plus acidity and a good intensity to the body that carries the wine through to a lingering finish.

100% Xarel·lo 12%
**

Jean Leon – Vinya Gigi Vi de Finca 2015
Starbright lemon. White blossoms, light crisp melon, very linear and subtle, light floral notes of white blossoms. Full in the mouth, more redolent with tropical notes, pineapple comes forward along with crisp green apple and a long finish.

100% Chardonnay 13.5%
**

Albet i Noya – El Fanio 2015
Bright lemon. Lemon pith, bitter melon, light honey, white pear, herbal notes. Crisp, taught, and succulent in the mouth with medium plus acidity and a medium finish.

100% Xarel·lo 13%
**

Mas Comtal – Antistiana 2015
Vineyard from 1960. Pale lemon. Lemon peel, grapefruit, light orchard blossoms. Crisp, fresh and juicy in the mouth, persistent in the finish with good intensity.

100% Xarel·lo 13%
**

Miquel Pons – 77 Veremes 2015
Pale lemon. White peach and pear, bit of melon as well, white pepper, light mineral notes. Good, medium plus acidity, lime peel, and green cherry in the mouth, medium finish.

100% Xarel·lo 12%
**

Parés Baltà – Amphora Roja 2016
Bright lemon. Crisp green fruits, fennel, licorice, strident minerality at the base. Crisp with apple notes, medium acidity, bit of bready yeast to it as well that lingers in to the finish. Even and well-made but more for the natural crowd.

100% Xarel·lo 12.5%
**

Finca Gran Estella – Gran Clot dels Oms 2014
Starbright lemon. Touch of reduction before revealing lemon pith, Asian pear, lily, and orange blossom. Fresh and integrated in the mouth, medium plus alcohol, good body with citric grapefruit notes trailing in to the finish.

100% Xarel·lo 13%
**

Gramona – Font Jui 2014
Starbright lemon. Lemon peel, muted blossom notes, smooth chalk, bit of green herbs, watercress. Fresh lemon citrus, medium plus acidity, crisp, lively, medium finish.

100% Xarel·lo 12%
**

Família Suriol – Castell de Grabuac – Els Bancals 2012
Bright straw, green pear, wild herbs, rosemary, bit of sandalwood. Medium across the board in the palate with with a peppery, crisp finish.

100% Xarel·lo 12%
**

Mas Candí – Quarte Xarel·los 2014
Lemon. Bit of reduction on top of grapefruit and lemon pith, light white blossoms. Melon notes much more prevalent in the mouth, savory, full, quite luscious.

100% Xarel·lo 13%
*

Sumarroca – Il·lògic 2015
Lemon, citric peel, grapefruit, light mineral notes, with white pear. Lemon peel in the mouth, generally fresh with medium acidity although a short finish.

100% Xarel·lo 12%
*

Vila de llops – Finca Vila de llops 2013
Bright lemon. Apple blossom, light lemon peel, crunchy, rocky mineral note so chalk. Fresh in the mouth with medium plus acidity although lacking much in intensity and a medium short finish.

100% Xarel·lo 13%
*

Pardas – Pur Xarel·lo 2013
Lemon. Light white peach, lemon pith, crisp green herbs. Crisp and linear in the mouth, medium plus acidity, medium finish with sticky bitter melon notes.

100% Xarel·lo 13%
*

Eudald Massana Noya – Avi Tom 2013
Bright lemon. Muted apple blossoms and fruit. Grapefruit citrics from the barrel fermentation. Full and fruity with green fruit notes on the palate. Medium acidity and finish.

100% Xarel·lo 12%
*

Can Marlès – Chardonnay 2013
Straw. Lemon pith, light pineapple and guava, mineral notes, generally quite subdued. Even and balanced across the palate, nervy and alive. Medium minus acidity and finish.

100% Chardonnay 13%
*

Miquel Pons – Núria de Montargull 2016
residual CO2, bright pale lemon, immediately grapey, gooseberry, and minor crisp green apple. Fresh in the mouth and dominated by the apple notes, boundlessly high acidity although an empty finish.

Muscat, Chardonnay 12%
*

Jané Venture – Finca Els Camps 2013
Bright lemon green. Lemon and lime citrics, crisp, young green apple, hint of mulberry. Crisp and fruity in the mouth, juicy peach notes come out more. Medium intensity, acidity, and finish.

100% Macabeu 13.5%
*

Can Descregut – Horafosca 2013
Lemon. Lightly bruised green apple notes, crisp pear, herbal notes of mint, rosemary. Lacking intensity in the mouth, medium acidity and a short finish.

100% Xarel·lo 13%
*

Bolet – Xarel·lo 2015
Bright lemon. Light white peach and blunted apple blossoms, white pear, and boundless chalky notes. Medium acidity in the body, fresh and light, not a great deal of persistence but generally pleasing.

100% Xarel·lo 12.5%
*