July 1st means the last day to submit my entry to Joan Gómez Pallarès’s Iberamerica Wine Tasting on his blog, Devinis. He asked us all to select one monovarietal red wine that is characteristic of my region that is valued under 15 Euros, or 20 Dollars.
Being a little ill at the moment after taking 54 excited and overly energetic five-year olds up into the Pyrenees for a 3 day mountain adventure, my ability to go the distance and find a monovarietal wine made with native grapes from the Penedes, such as Garnacha, Cariñena or Samsó was unfortunately, not an option. So, instead, I decided to roll the dice and go with the 2005 Eos d Loxarel, an organic Syrah I found in one of our favorite shops in Terrassa. Not only have I not had it before, but I felt that although I couldn’t find a grape “characteristic” to my region, I could at least find a foreign varietal that was grown naturally, hopefully expressing the terroir in which it was grown in.
D.O. Penedès is actually an incredible region to chat about because they have over 121 different varietals of grapes that are either wild and currently being recovered, or have been planted and harvested throughout the centuries. And although Syrah is not considered an authorized varietal by D.O. like Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta, Cariñena, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell and Samsó have been, it has been successfully experimented with alongside Pinot Noir and Cabernet-Franc.
As for the Bodega Loxerel, their estate called, La Finca de Can Mayol, is located 5 km North of Vilafranca in the L’Alt Penedès. Vilafranca del Penedès is the main wine-making town, but there are three separate subzones that delineated the area geographically. Penedès Inferior (Baix Penedès) is situated along the coastal area; Penedès Medio (Mitja- Penedès) is considered largest wine producing area of the three subzones; and Penedès Superior (Alt-Penedès) is the highest area, rising to 800 metres with small but very high quality wine production. The soil in all three subzones are quite similar: rich in phosphorus, low in potassium with some limestone scattered throughout the area. Where these Syrah grapes were specifically harvested from is located 600 meters above sea level in a town called Pla de Manlleu, where the terrain is steep and sloped and the soil is poor and stony, which ironically, has the potential to make some extraordinary wine.
Unfortunately, like the majority of websites in Spain, I could find very little about the bodega in any of the three languages they offered, but I can tell you that they have wonderful photos of the bodega that show you how their herd of goats naturally trim their vines by eating the leaves filled with glucose. They also have some decent descriptions of their harvests over the past three years, which told me that their 2005 harvest was phenomenal, while their 2006 was incredibly dry resulting in a tough year for them. This, fortunately, is good news for me being that I just opened this bottle and am really excited to see what a stellar year for an organic syrah made in Alt-Penedès is all about.
The 2005 Eos d Loxarel is incredibly dark and inky mimicking the rich berries and chocolate bouquet on the nose. It reminds me of eating a piece of 70 percent cacao with a rich dark tawny port. Behind the chocolate you can pick out notes of mineral, slate and blackberries. The palate is so soft and subtle, the opposite of what I would expect, soothing my aching belly that really shouldn’t be tasting wine at the moment. The texture is not quite velvety but has a softer sensation leading to a really elegant finish. Over the course of the hour, the wine becomes more complex, bringing out a different forest fruits, while masking the bitterness of the chocolate but not overpowering it either. It is sort of like watching a good fireworks show where the beginning is fun, but by the finale, you are seeing new colors and shapes you’ve never expected before. Good body and tannins with low acidity. Although I paid 6.30 Euros for this at Verem, I’ve seen this available in the US for 12.95. If you can hunt it down, I would highly suggest trying this.