Wednesday, May 20, 2015

2013 Joan d'Anguera Altaroses: A Garnacha Prize

The Priorat wine region of Spain receives plenty of accolades and media attention. Wine lovers often know about the region and its highly prized wines. Priorat wines though can be expensive, often making them more a special occasion wine. A lesser known wine region almost completely surrounds Priorat, and some of its wines can be similar to Priorat wines, but at much lower prices. This is the Monsant DO.

The Monsant DO was created in 2001, though wine making in the region extends back to at least the ancient Romans. The region has about 2000 hectares of vineyards, and much of the terrain is mountainous. White and red grapes are grown, including Chardonnay, White Grenache, Macabeu, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Red Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo and others. There are around 60 wineries in Montsant, and they export about 60% of their production with Germany being their top importer and the U.S. taking second place. I enjoy the taste of Montsant wines, and especially like that many of them are very affordable.

At the Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet in Melrose, where I work part-time, I recently purchased the 2013 Joan d'Anguera Altaroses ($17), and I enjoyed it so much I had to buy a few more bottles. The Cellars Joan d'Anguera is located in Catalunya, and the estate extends back approximately 200 years. Josep d’Anguera is famous for having introduced Syrah to Montsant, and since his passing, his sons, Joan and Josep, have taken over, though with the assistance of their mother, Mercè. Joan and Josep have moved forward to create their own style of wines.

In 2009, the brothers transformed the vineyards to organic farming, as well as beginning the process to become Biodynamic. In 2012, they received their Demeter Biodynamic certification. Their wine production methods have also seen changes from the days of their father. For example, they only destem partially and mature their wines in much less new oak, choosing to use more older oak, foudres and cement tanks. In addition, they have focused more on Grenache wines, rather than the Syrah their father brought to the region.

The first vintage of Joan d'Anguera Altaroses was in 2011, but the 2012 vintage was their first Biodynamic wine. The wine was crafted to resemble the traditional wines of the region, a lighter style of Grenache, and that is also why they chose to refer to the grape as Granatxa, the old Catalan term for Grenache. The grapes for this wine are about 15-40 years old and they were fermented in concrete vats using indigenous yeasts, It was matured for about 12 months in old oak barrels, and is unfined and unfiltered.

The wine is light red in color, with a pleasing aroma of red fruits and spice. On the palate, it is light bodied but with a compelling melange of flavors of dark cherry and strawberry, rich spice, and an earthy undertone. Mild tannins, nice acidity, and plenty of elegance. It is an easy drinking wine, but with plenty of character, especially at this price point. With its light body, it would work well during the summer, from roast chicken to burgers. Highly recommended.

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