Exploring the Variety of Still Wines from Catalunya #WorldWineTravel

Catalunya wine regions courtesy of vineyards.com

World Wine Travel Group Invades Catalunya – Virtually
Our new World Wine Travel Group is continuing our year-long adventure (virtually) in Spain with a stop in Catalunya.  Catalunya is in the Northeast corner of Spain and is best known for Barcelona.  In the wine world, Catalunya offers a wealth of regions and styles.  My fellow World Wine Travelers will have lots of finds, just scroll farther down in this post for links to over a dozen ideas!

A Wealth of Wines from Catalunya
Cava, Spain’s sparkling wine can be grown in many regions around the country, but Catalunya is the heart and soul of Cava. I had fun making a video last summer about a fun little Cava from the sale bin. Cava needn’t be expensive to be delicious!

Natural Wine in Spain
My friend, Jill Mott, is one of Minnesota’s most knowledgeable people when it comes to natural wines. She’s also a small importer of natural wines from Spain, and she has agreed to be my guide on our year long tour through Spain here with World Wine Travel. Whenever there’s a notable source of natural wines in a region, I’ll be including them in my post.

Whether or not they call it a Pet Nat, it has a bit of sparkle when you pour.

Clot de le Soleres
Clot de les Soleres has quite a story to tell. The Heretat Ferrer de la Vall estate dates back to the 16th century. It was an active vineyard and winery into the 1800’s, until phylloxera hit the region. The estate never quite recovered, eventually stopping independent production and just selling grapes to Cava producers in the region. The current owners purchased the property in 2000, renovated the property and winery and released their first commercial wine in 2008.

The vineyards are dry farmed, they have organic certification and farm using biodynamic principles. In the winery, they ferment the grapes with the least intervention possible, using no additions, no fining or filtering. I think this sentence sums it up nicely:

“We exclusively make artisanal wines without additives, which are now called natural wines.”

Reading their description of the estate and their process, you’ll see their sincere dedication to their farm and their wines. Anything but a fad, this is a commitment. In fact, they lost their entire 2020 vintage in the vineyard to mildew. Fortunately, their 2019 harvest was good and they still have wine to sell.

Clot de les Soleres Macabeu

Clot de les Soleres Macabeu 2017 (locally and online $32) 13.5% abv
Eye: Hazy medium lemon
Nose: Medium intensity aromas of white blossoms, fresh lemon, green apple, pencil eraser, touch of fennel.
Mouth: Barely off-dry, medium plus acidity, medium minus body, medium alcohol, medium intensity flavors, barely effervescent, medium finish. Flavors of fresh lemons, green apples, fennel, pencil eraser
Observations: If you expect a natural wine to have off-aromas and flavors, you would be surprised. This wine is clean and fresh. Macabeu (aka Macabeo) is one of the main grapes used in Cava, and you can recognize that when you taste this wine.

We enjoyed the Clot de les Soleres Macabeu with a starter course of olives and Manchego Cheese.

Priorat
There is so much to explore in Catalunya, I had to keep going! Priorat is inland, so the climate is much hotter than coastal areas. There is a long history of winemaking in Priorat, starting back in the 12th century with the Carthusian monks at the Scala Dei monastery. The modern era began when some prominent Spanish winemakers took interest in the area in the late 1980’s. The unique climate and Llicorella soils are represented in the rich Garnacha (aka Grenache) based wines of the region.

Bodegas La Cartuja Priorat DOQ

Bodegas La Cartuja Priorat DOCa 2017 (Locally $20, or online here) 15% abv
70% Garnacha, 30% Mazuelo
Priorat is a warm area, so the red wines are big and bold, and La Cartuja is no exception.
Eye: Medium ruby
Nose: Medium plus intensity aromas of ripe strawberries, red cherries, blackberries, rosemary, cedar, and some alcoholic heat.
Mouth: Dry, medium plus acidity, medium plus sandy tannins, full body, high alcohol, medium plus flavor intensity, medium plus finish. Flavors of ripe strawberries, red cherries, blackberries, rosemary, cedar.
Observations: Billed as a Priorat which is more approachable when young, this is still a pretty burly wine. Very enjoyable and exactly as expected for Priorat.

World Wine Travel Bloggers Dig into Catalunya
When you look at all our posts, you’ll see the great variety of wines made in Catalunya. Once you’re done exploring Barcelona, you’ll have a long list of places to visit in the countryside! We’re not done, why not join our conversation about Catalunya on Saturday Feb. 27? We chat on Twitter from 10-11am CST, simply search on the hashtag #worldwinetravel.

Butifarra con Setas aka Catalan Pork Sausage with Mushrooms

This recipe is from José Andrés “Made in Spain” book, available new and used here. This is my go-to Spanish recipe book. This recipe has been published online in a number of locations. I don’t have a local source for Spanish ingredients like Butifarra, so I substituted as José suggested. Below is what I did!

Ingredients

  • 12oz. local bratwurst from Braucher’s Sunshine Harvest Farm, cut into 1 inch segments
  • 10 oz. Bilinski’s chicken sausage (to lighten up on the fat and calories)
  • 16 oz. variety of fresh mushrooms quartered – baby bella, shiitake, oyster
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1/2 cup sweet dessert wine – I used Sauternes
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs, stripped from stems
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Instructions

  • Heat the EVOO in a large skillet over medium low heat. Sauté the sausages until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the sausages to a plate.
  • Add the onion to the pan and sauté until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes
  • Add the dessert wine to the pan and let the alcohol burn off, about 1 minute
  • Increase the heat to medium and add the mushrooms, thyme, bay leaf. Cook over medium heat until mushrooms have released much of their moisture and have browned lightly, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the sausages back to the pan, add the raisins and pine nuts.
  • Let everything mix continue cooking for about 5 minutes until everything is hot.
  • Garnish with parsley.
  • Serve alongside white beans. I had cooked my beans with a pork knuckle for nice additional flavor.

 

Comments
31 Responses to “Exploring the Variety of Still Wines from Catalunya #WorldWineTravel”
  1. As always such beautiful looking dishes! I’m so interested in the Cava. Do you know how usual it is for a Cava to be 100% Macabeo or 100% anything?

  2. advinetures says:

    Fantastic notes on these wines and we will be on the hunt for both. We are big fans of Priorat wines but haven’t tried this producer yet. Love the way Clot de le Soleres’ describes Natural wines, very much want to try this wine too!

    • Thanks Allison and Chris! I haven’t always been a Priorat fan, but I’m slowly coming around. I was really impressed with the tone of what Clot de les Solares had to say.

  3. Lynn says:

    You are so lucky to have Jill in your backyard to share wines like these! Sad to hear Clos de les Soleres lost their 2020 harvest, great that they were in a place such that they could fall back on their 2019 stock. I’ll be right over for your starter and a sip of this wine ;-D

  4. culinarycam says:

    This looks amazing. And I will be looking for those wines…and that cookbook. You mentioned it last month and I completely blitzed on searching for it. I won’t forget this time around.

  5. terristeffes says:

    I am intrigued by the starter course! Ha! I am going to have to try that, in addition to that lovely dish you made.

  6. robincgc says:

    I love that you will be sharing natural wines with us from Spain this year. I will look forward to each of your posts.
    The Macabeo sounds delicious. “pencil eraser”…that is something I have probably detected in a wine, without having a name to put to it!
    Your dish looks and sounds delicious. It is a recipe I will try!

  7. Payal Vora says:

    Excellent line-up of Catalan wines, esp. the natural wine!

  8. steveofthegrape says:

    Really nice story of both Cava and the big Red wines. I want to get my hands on some of those reds!

  9. What a wonderful winter meal– and the wines to go with it! We found cava went surprisingly well with our chorizo kale bean soup, but I could definitely imagine it with the wines you feature here. I loved learning that there are so many organic wineries in the region and that they are using biodynamic and natural winemaking processes!

  10. Wow, that really is a commitment to natural wine when you don’t even spray for powdery mildew. Good for them! Love this focus on natural wines from Spain. I’m a fan!

    • Thanks Linda. I’ve spoken to winemakers elsewhere faced with that same challenge, thought it isn’t usually 100% of everything they are growing. That’s dedication.

  11. So cool to have such a great resource for “natural” wines locally! Both of the wines sound wonderful. I’m might have a snag a copy of that Jose Andres cookbook. I’m loving the look and sound of the recipe you used.

  12. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    Both of these wines sound delicious, and thanks for the look at a natural wine from the area. The butifarra with mushrooms also look delicious.

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