(Continued from “The Catalonian Priory” on 8 May 2015)
Situated southwest of Barcelona and northeast of Tarragona, Penedés (or Penedès in Catalan) is one of the oldest wine-producing areas in Western Europe. Sandwiched between a mountain range and the Mediterranean, Penedés is known for its infertile, well-drained yet mineral-rich soil, forcing vine roots to drill deeper into the ground in search of nutrients, which is conducive to wine quality and complexity. Coupled with its altitude, diurnal variation and micro-climates, it is entirely no surprise that Penedés should be an important and dynamic wine-producing area.
Introduced by the Phoenicians and furthered by the Carthaginians, the viticultural history of Penedés predates Roman conquests. Penedés has been part of Catalonia – whether in the form of County of Barcelona or Principality of Catalonia – since the 9th century. Under the Crown of Aragon, Penedés wines were hugely popular in the central-western Mediterranean region, being transported to and merchandised in Catalonia, Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and across the Mezzogiorno.
Penedés is administratively and geographically divided into 3 areas: Bajo Penedés, Medio Penedés and Alto Penedés. Located along the Mediterranean coastline, Bajo Penedés is the warmest and renowned for fortified wine made from Malvasia and Muscat d’Alexandrie, while red wine – usually a blend of Spanish and French varieties – is becoming more common. Shielded by rolling hills, Medio Penedés is cooler and remarkably productive, with a lion’s share in Cava production. At 600m to 800m above sea level, Alto Penedés is capable of producing excellent Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Riesling etc thanks to its intricate micro-climates.
Penedés is the home of Bodegas Torres, which led the charge in modernising and revolutionising both viticulture and winemaking therein and beyond by introducing temperature-controlled techniques, barriques maturation, sustainable viticulture and international varieties. The modern Penedés DO (Denominación de Origen) is dominated by Cava and white wine, whereas although red wine is on the ascendant, it has yet to reach the height of its illustrious cousins in Priorato. Famed for its Cava, Penedés is responsible for 90% of all Cava production in Spain. It is worth pointing out that Cava DO refers not to any wine region in particular, but to that specific style of sparkling wine made as per Método Tradicional (Traditional Method), with second fermentation and at least 9 months ageing in bottle. The traditional Cava blend comprises 3 Spanish white varieties: Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada.
Jané Ventura Reserva de la Música Brut Nature 2011
A blend of Xarello, Macabeo (alternatively known as Viura) and Parellada with zero dosage. Light lemon-yellow with pastel sunshine reflex, the refreshing nose offers lime peel, Japanese pear, quince, rock salt and apple blossom. Braced by crispy acidity and medium-fine mousse, the energetic palate delivers green apple, starfruit, ume, and fresh herbs and soda biscuit. Medium-bodied at 12%, the lively entry continues through a focused mid-palate, leading to a clean finish.
Jané Ventura Blanc Selecció 15 Vinyes 2011
A blend of Xarello, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Sauvignon and Malvasia de Sitges (a variant of the Muscat family indigenous to Penedés) sourced from 15 vineyards. Bright lemon-lime with pale golden reflex, the tropic nose effuses grapefruit, pomelo, guava and cut grass. Supported by vivacious acidity, the exotic palate emanates calamansi, mangosteen, passion fruit and lemongrass. Medium bodied at 12%, the tangy entry carries onto a fleshy mid-palate, leading to a spicy finish.
Jané Ventura Negre Selecció 12 Vinyes 2010
A blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sumoll (indigenous to Catalonia) and Syrah sourced from 12 vineyards. Dark garnet with gleaming cardinal-ruby rim, the fragrant nose presents black cherry, plum, allspice, dark chocolate and tobacco leaf. Buttressed by generous acidity and ample tannins, the expressive palate supplies bilberry, damson, eucalyptus, liquorice and coffea arabica. Medium-bodied at 13.5%, the elegant entry persists through a balanced mid-palate, leading to a herbal finish. Jacky I.F. Cheong
Jacky I.F. Cheong is a legal professional by day and columnist by night. Having spent his formative years in Britain, France,
and Germany, he regularly writes about wine, fine arts, classical music, and politics in several languages