WBW 63: Finding my muse in a bottle of 1990 Mas La Plana

It seemed like an easy theme, what Rob Bralow proposed for Wine Blogging Wednesday. Find your Muse. That’s easy, here it is:

There, done. And there’s plenty of other songs from that band available on the Internet.

Oh, wait. That’s not what he meant?

All right. Enough with the silly musical asides. But it is a wicked, inspiring song, isn’t it?

But then again, I’m not sure I’m going to rush to listen to that song again in 15, 20 years.

Whereas I can easily see myself inspired, 15 years from now, to go down to the cellar and grab a bottle of Mas La Plana, the 100% cabernet sauvignon, single vineyard cuvée from an old Torres family vineyard in Penedes. Because every time I’ve had that wine, I’ve found something bright, expressive, significant about it, whether I was tasting it young or old.

Last year, I posted about tasting a 1988 I’d pulled out of the cellar for my father’s birthday (and reminisced about the 1981 I’d had a few years before, a wine that was still remarkably fresh at 20 years of age).

A couple of weeks ago, I tasted a 1999 Mas La Plana with a tasting group, in a horizontal tasting of the 99 vintage. It was one of the stars of the evening, with its intense, focused, open aromas and flavors: cherry danish, spice, a touch of coffee and a beautiful finish that went on and on and on. It fared a lot better than the 1999 Le Pigeonnier, a “super” Cahors designed by Michel Rolland for Domaine Lagrézette’s Alain-Dominique Perrin, a superlative cuvée that was actually a very stupid wine: all wood, rough tannins sticking to your teeth, barely any fruit, overextracted, overdone in every way. No muse came over that wine, no divine inspiration, for sure.

But that didn’t stop Robert Parker from being suckered into calling this overblown thing ” the finest wine I have tasted from Cahors. (…) Made from extraordinarily small yields of 18-20 hectoliters per hectare, it is aged for 24-30 months in 100% new French oak, and bottled without filtration. The wine is produced under the guidance of famed oenologist Michel Rolland. A fine wine, an inky/purple-colored offering with tremendous intensity as well as an extraordinary nose of blackberries, cassis, licorice, and smoke. Extremely full-bodied, with low acidity and sweet tannin…” The type of wine that looks good early on, but is all steroid, looking worse and worse as it deflates over time.

No such problem with the more restrained, but always elegant Mas La Plana. The 1990 we opened today didn’t quite have the intensity of the 1999, but it had enough stuffing left to make a good pairing with skirt steak and caramelized onions deglazed with Pedro Ximenez sherry – a tasty, intense dish, to say the least. After showing mostly cedar, right after opening, the nose opened up to freshly cooked jam (not unlike the cherry danish of the 1999, come to think of it), with a bit of spice and a fair bit of mushroom, forest floor character. Not very big on the mouthfeel, but still long and, again, solid enough to be a great match with steak. A firm hand in a silk glove.

Beyond these prosaic tasting notes, is there some poetry to be waxed out of this wine I particularly love? Well, let’s see…

Mas La Plana, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee?

Gave thee drinkability,

that serves meals so pleasantly;

Gave thee layers of delight;

Softest cherry, flavors bright;

Gave thee such a tender voice,

Making the tastebuds rejoice?

Mas La Plana, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee?

Mas La Plana, I’ll tell thee,

Mas La Plana, I’ll tell thee:

He is called Miguel Torres,

And he can make a mean wine

That is intense,  and also mild;

He became a rich man.

In la tierra catalan,

And the world knows his name.

Mas La Plana, I’ll drink thee!

Miguel Torres, I thank thee!

(With a toast to William Blake, and a nod to Randall Grahm, master of the wine-poetic parody)

Tasting Note: 2008 Txomin Etxaniz Getaria Txakolina

This review – and all the new content on The Wine Case – is now at a new address, winecase.ca. Click here to read the review.

Wine Blogging Wednesday 56: a Kosher Wine from Utiel-Requena

It’s always nice when Wine Blogging Wednesdays lead us off the beaten track, and allows us to expand our views on the world of wine. I mean, drink AND learn? How could you go wrong?

WBW 56 is certainly such an opportunity, with the kosher wines theme thought out by the Corkdork, just in time for Passover. 

It allowed me to realize that there are dozens of kosher wines available at the Société des alcools du Québec, our good old State monopoly for wine and spirits. Wines ranging from Concord grape Manischewitz to 100-dollar bottles of Burgundy from a négociant called Roberto Cohen. Lots of wines from Israel, of course, but also from France, California, Italy, Australia, Argentina and Spain.

That’s where I picked my kosher wine from, a wine from the Utiel-Requena appellation, near Valencia, called Makor. Makor is made by by Elvi Wines, a Spanish producer entirely dedicated to making kosher wines from various Spanish regions (Priorat and Rioja, among others) and even from Chile. 

The 2004 vintage, which I tasted for the WBW, is made from 50% bobal, a native grape from Utiel-Requena, along with 20% tempranillo and 30% cabernet sauvignon. And that’s where the label is strangely not quite… kosher, as it only insists on bobal, without mentioning the other grapes.

Whatever’s in there, it sure packs a punch. The wine is dark purple, with intense aromas and flavors of black fruit (blackberry and, especially, plums), smooth tannins and an almost creamy texture. Not a light and subtle wine, but a simple and fun one.

Without knowing that it was a kosher wine, I wouldn’t have guessed. Which is a great thing, really: you wouldn’t want kosher wines to be some sub-class of wine. So it’s all good. And it’s even great with refried-bean enchiladas, as the intensity of the wine competes nicely with the starchy texture of the beans – and the tomato sauce, and the cheese. Not a classic kosher meal. But let’s all be open and enjoy the good things.

The sweeter side of things: check out The Tawny Times

While I’m waiting for the latecomers to Wine Blogging Wednesday 55 to send in their posts, so I can prepare my round-up, I rummaged through my tasting notes from the Salon des vins de Québec, and decided to put a bit of them online… on another blog.

But Rémy, you may ask, don’t you have enough already with The Wine Case and that French blog of yours? In fact, yes, but when you get a really sweet offer…

The sweet offer in question (more…)

Hola, bloggers del vino! (Wine Bloggers Conference begins in Spain)

If you’re looking for a clear sign that the wine blogging world is getting more serious, committed and professional, look no further than the European Wine Bloggers Conference, which is starting just about now in Logroño, Spain.

A few dozen bloggers are gathering over this weekend to discuss wine blog writing, blog technology, monetizing (some of us dreamers actually think we could make a bit of a living out of this…) and, in a related question, (more…)

Tasting Note: Gran Coronas Mas La Plana 1988, Penedès, Miguel Torres

This tasting note can now be found on the new address for this blog, winecase.ca. All new content is now online at winecase.ca.

See you there!

WineCreator: A Roundup on Ronda

I finally found a minute to check back for reports on WineCreator, the ambitiously-named meeting of wine pundits and renowned winemakers that was held in Ronda, in Andalusia, a couple of weeks ago.

Last weekend, Jancis Robinson published, as promised, an overview of the conference, where she revealed an intriguing side of the whole operation. Apparently, this was more (less?) than (more…)

A glimpse at the WineCreators

Little has filtered, as of yet, about what went on at the incredibly ambitious WineCreator meeting that was held in Ronda, in Jérez country, last weekend. Yet a lot of people are surely curious about knowing what the “greatest” minds in winemaking and wine journalism came to discuss during this ” tribute to creativity in a world where the signs of globalisation are becoming increasingly evident”.

Jancis Robinson, a key participant in the meeting, (more…)

Would you like some red with your eggs? Or maybe in them…

As I was going through one of my reader pages, I stumbled upon a post from The Accidental Hedonist, presenting a version of a recipe called eggs en meurette – i.e., poached eggs in a red wine sauce. It brought back memories of a restaurant called the Chanoine Kir, after the man who gave his name to the drink mixing white wine with a touch of cassis liqueur, where the eggs were a classic element of Sunday brunches. I thought it was quite fantastic, with the red wine, onions, mushrooms and (more…)

Mas Collet 2004, Montsant, Celler Capçanes

Among the lesser-known wine-growing regions of Spain, Montsant seems like a potential treasure trove of solid, yet not too expensive wines, often coming from undervalued old vines. Its soil has similarities with next door Priorat (unproductive soils on slate, also common in Bierzo), and so does the varietal selection, but there is certainly nothing in common with the stratospheric prices of Priorat wines.

Which is what makes Mas Collet 2004, a well-integrated combination of (more…)