Saturday, February 19, 2011

No Rain In Spain...Its Anything But Plain

Hoping like hell for a reprieve from the blast that descended upon NY/NJ this winter, I was pleasantly surprised and mildly shocked that a balmy 60 degrees greeted me at the Barcelona Airport with a warm embrace. The trip was a whirlwind, no doubt, but the first stop was absolutely unforgettable. Didier Soto (shown with his lovely wife, Nuria) saw a desheveled piece of property in the scrubby hills of Selva de Mar. Between the 1000 year old stone building they have made a home and the ampitheatre of vines terraced on the hillsides of the mountain-fortified bowl that encloses them, the Soto family have created a slice of heaven on earth. But this did not come without serious hard work for it is difficult to bring a run down vineyard back to life. Yet their way of life is simple...biodynamics flows through everything they do, from the vineyard management to the harvest, from the winemaking to the bottling. Phases of the moon, compost, "eye of newt and toe of frog" (thanks Willie) are more than just wine "hocus pocus". They really do work, not only reviving the soil but make amazing wines.

And make no mistake, these wines are amazing. The "Quindals", which is almost all Black Garnacha with a touch of Syrah and Carinena, is the more approachable red they produce with plenty of dark berries and spice tones abound. Shifting to the Vinya Selva de Mar 2004, Didier explains the blend shows a greater percentage of Syrah (30%) and Carinena (20%) with the wine showing more structure, power and packing more concentration. It is so thought-provoking and introspective, a wine that woos you with whispers rather than flash. These wines defy definition. The are typical of a Priorat blend yet they bear no resemblance to those wines whatsoever, being far too mineral and not as flashy. One then thinks of Chateauneuf du Pape, but they don't deliver the same racy raspberry tones nor do they ever show heat. They truly are like no other wines on earth...ah, maybe just a direct reflection of their unique terroir. Isn't that refreshing?

We were blessed to host Didier this past week for an event at Equus Tavern in Bernardsville with the super talented chef, Paul Viggiano, making a magnificent meal to pair with Didier's wines. The night contained so many laughs and such a great vibe that it is almost hard to describe it all. Didier, ever the colorful character, made the evening come to life without hardly speaking. Twas anything but plain for sure...
JCB the 4th

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