01-03-2014

Vi Ranci finally gets its due

Photo by Vinologue

Vi Ranci is often avoided by people. We suppose it has to do with the name which directly translates from Catalan as “rancid wine”. Admittedly that’s not too appealing and sounds downright repulsive. The taste is similar to what you find in Fino Sherries in that it has an oxidation quality to it that some may initially be put off by given that it tastes nothing like regular wines. Once you do “get it” you fall in to that age-old paradigm of it needing to be pried from your cold dead hands before wanting to give it up or stop making cocktails from it.

In an effort to boost the profile as much as they could, makers from both the south of France as well as here in Catalonia put on a showcase of Vi Rancis at Celler de Can Roca’s Mas Marroch house just south of Girona last October. More people should have shown up for it as it was an extraordinary event with Rancis of all ages and of incredibly high quality. Still, one of us luckily made it there and had a great time with the makers.

Maybe the tides will turn for Vi Ranci (which yeah, probably needs to be renamed) as the Wine Advocate (Parker) Points came out yesterday. Hate them or love them, Bob’s system does admittedly give some foundation to understand a region. Luis Gutiérrez is now reviewing Catalonia and in quickly running through the scores, it seems that he has a very solid grasp of what Catalan wine is all about or at the very least is objective enough to give scores that we are very largely in agreement with.

There was only one 100 point score given though and it was for the “Ca les Viudes” produced by Arrels del Priorat. This is an absolutely wonderful project undertaken by the Balaguer family in Gratallops and Priorat legend, René Barbier III of Clos Mogador. As we explained in our Priorat book this is the top of the line of Rancis they make and originates from a “mother” that’s 100 years old from a house in the village of Porrera. Elegant to no end, it admittedly doesn’t come cheap at 140€ a bottle.

Of course, if you want a slightly more affordable, yet still wonderful Vi Ranci, there’s the Arrels at 25-30€. It should be noted that that scored 96 points, putting it firmly in the Top 10 of Catalan wines according to Wine Advocate. There were also two Vi Rancis from De Muller that received a 96 and a 95.

It’s going to be interesting to see if this boosts the profile of the wine amongst the sleeve-tatted sommeliers who will naturally claim they’ve been drinking it forever. Or maybe it will just maintain its loyal and somewhat cultish following which is fine by us as it’s 100+ points of delicious.

Many congratulations to the makers as we know very well that it’s been a long, slow road to get to this point.