The wines of Bulli-land
31 Aug 2009 by Jancis Robinson
« Having spent quite a substantial part of 21 consecutive summers in the western Languedoc, we are finding ourselves straying south of the Spanish border with increasing frequency – mainly to enjoy the much more varied and sophisticated food that’s available there. Cassoulet v El Bulli acolytes sprinkled liberally over the Costa Brava basically – not much of a contest. See, for example, Richard Neville’s recent review of Ca l’Enric in Your views.
The wines made in the very far north-eastern corner of Spain, in the DO Empordà, have also been improving quite considerably. This steep, traditionally terraced, often schistous wine country on the Mediterranean coast is only just over the border from Banyuls in Roussillon, and in parts the rocks look not unlike the llicorella of Priorat, and are far from a million miles from those of the Agly Valley.
The most impressive wine I have come across from this part of the world is the first vintage of a new enterprise, S’Alqueria 2006 Empordà. Ivo Pagès, pictured here wearing the traditional Catalan baratina (described by him as having a similar status as a kilt in Scotland) at a wedding,
was brought up in the wild hills, mainly National Park, in the hinterland of Cadaquès, just round a rocky headland from El Bulli. With experience from wineries all over Europe, he began work on older vineyards in his homeland and this is the result. It is the most sophisticated blend of very old Samsó (Carignan) and Grenache Noir from Rabos, and 18-year-old Petit Verdot and old Macabeo from Villajuiga. The result is a 13.5% subtle red blend with considerable minerality and a whiff of the sea. It’s not cheap, alas. Planet of the Grapes in London want £37.50 for a bottle. Also in London, Philglas & Swiggot are listed as stockists on Pagès information-rich website in four languages. But the wine is certainly classed-growth standard, and really distinctive. It’s also on the list at restaurants such as The Greenhouse Restaurant* , UMU* and Pied à Terre**, apparently. Look out for a new style of red he is developing in tandem with this most serious wine.
Ivo’s top new restaurant tip in his area, by the way is the Miramar in Port Llanca which now has an ex Bulli chef installed. We have had two excellent lunches at the slightly more traditional Els Pescadores right on the marina where the sommelier is a delight. »
Jancis…thanks for your support and the people I work with: growers, wholesalers, restaurants, retail shops…. They had the guts tom buy my wine without knowing me, or with any media support. they just liked it and that’s the beauty. It just confort me on the quality potential of wines from Emporda D.O.
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