50 Great Sparkling Wines – a Wine Pleasures visit to Clos Lentiscus

50 Great Sparkling wines Clos LentiscusNestled in the heart of old-Garraf Park among the Alt Penedés and Garraf regions of the Catalan coastal range and built around the thriving, thousand year old mastic tree that has become their trademark, the Clos Lentiscus winery stands atop many centuries of wine production. The vineyards, comprised of 65 hectares, are enriched by the surrounding natural Mediterranean forests, the plethora of clay and limestone that make up the soil, and the ideal climate created its proximity to the coast and mountains, day and night temperature differences, and moderate rainfall. This terroir creates the perfect conditions to grow a rare and much celebrated local variety of grape, Malvasia de Sitges.

50 Great Sparkling wines 2013 Clos Lentiscus 2The charming Clos Lentiscus (Can Ramon) house, partially built in the fourteenth century, had been gradually added onto as the family and wine industry has prospered and flourished over the years. However, it was not until the loyal and devoted sons, Manel and Joan Aviño, returned home to take over the family business in 2002 that Can Ramon took the innovative steps to becoming the impeccably and passionately operated winery that it is today.

50 Great Sparkling wines 2013 Clos Lentiscus 8While it is built on generations of family traditions, the adjustments and endeavors that Clos Lentiscus is making are based on very modern concepts. Most important to Clos Lentiscus’s company mission and the product itself is the winery’s choice to begin utilizing organic processing and eliminating all unnatural additives from their wine. “When you taste a wine, it should inspire an experience of the place it comes from,” Manel Aviño, the thoughtful wine maker, passionately declares. Those chemicals get in the way of that experience, and Clos Lentiscus wants their consumers’ daydream inducing sip to transport them directly to the shade of the mastic tree overlooking their winding rows of vineyards. They have even begun producing a delicious line of organic honey from the property’s busy bees if consumers would like to be transported to Clos Lentiscus through their morning cup of tea or nightly glass of milk as well.

Clos Lentiscus 3Additionally, Clos Lentiscus has yet another unique venture in the works. While the winery has recently opened its doors, walls, and even some of its antique wine production equipment to showcasing the breathtaking and vibrant work of local visual artists, they have been inspired to take it one step further and adding a whole lot more generosity. Clos Lentiscus will begin hosting an annual wine tasting and art auction event, donating all proceeds to a non-governmental organization in Ethiopia to buy school supplies, medical equipment, and other essentials that many Ethiopian people have been struggling to live without. Upon a visit to the gallery spaces at Clos Lentiscus, it is obvious that this collaboration of two local art forms is capable of generating a whole new attitude regarding wine’s various uses in the world.  With all the inspiration dripping from the vines, the paint brushes, and even the hives, Clos Lentiscus  is sure to continue transforming and adapting in the wine industry for years to come.

Malvasia Blanc de BlancsTasting notes from 50 Great Sparkling Wines 

 Clos Lentiscus Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature 2009 – Golden yellow. Fine bubble.Very fragrant – honeysuckle, plums, citric and floral notes. Crisp & fresh entrance, smooth mouthfeel, lingering finish though overtly acidic.

Clos Lentiscus Sumoll Reserva Familia Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature 2009 – Amber. Striking raison with underlying citric notes. Fresh and fruity entrance. Crisp lingering finish.


Baracchi sparkles under the Tuscan sun

Barrachi, one of the 50 Great Sparkling Wine Producers 2013Ilaria Salvadori, Marketing and Sales manager of the Tuscan based winery Baracchi, takes the time to chat to us about their winery and wines. She also tells us all about the land which fosters the wonderful Barrachi wine, the history of Baracchi, and the unique aspects of their wine-making process. The winery is already well-known to the Wine Pleasures team, as it has participated with Baracchi Brut Rosè Millesimato Sangiovese in 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World. It received 92 points and was awarded a Silver medal.Baracchi will soon take part in our yearly Buyer Meets Italian Wine Cellar Workshop, which gives small and medium producers the opportunity to market to worldwide wine importers.

Tell us about your origins as a winery.

Barrachi, one of the 50 Great Sparkling Wine Producers 2013Today, the Baracchi Estate comprises sixty hectares of land, twenty-two of which are vineyard, on a beautiful hilltop location which catches the Tuscan sun and gives wonderful views of the Valdichiana Valley,

Riccardo Baracchi had always dreamed of becoming part of the dynamic wine industry. He was inspired by his family tradition of vine-growing, which dates back to 1860. The brothers Riccardo and Benedetto, together with oenologist Stefano Chioccioli, are today leading a thriving winery which is the refined product of years of tradition and evolution. It is Stefano who selects and identifies the best terroir for each variety of grape, which leads to the highest-quality end product possible.

The vineyards are divided into different sections. San Martino, with its well-drained, sandy soil, is planted mostly with Syrah and Sangiovese, and produces elegant, smooth wines. Gabbiano, with its calcareous clay soil, is perfect for Cabernet and Syrah, and produces complex wines with a strong body. Finally, there are the vineyards of Montanare, with a stony soil rich in lime, which grows wonderful Merlot and Trebbiano. At the top of the forest, Ricardo has the ambitious aim to grow Pinot Noir!

What makes your wines stand out?

Barrachi, one of the 50 Great Sparkling Wine Producers 2013Each and every one of our wines is born from a unique idea. We then take time to determine the best terroir and vineyard style for that idea to become a real, delicious wine. In other words, to make outstanding wine it is essential to work hard in the vineyard: viticulture is the most important aspect of high-class wine-making. All vineyard work is undertaken by hand, and utmost attention paid. Each of the 6,500 plants per hectare will produce only a few bunches of grapes. In the cellar, certain grapes are fermented in vertical oak barrels – the Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cabernet – and the rest ferment in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks.

What can you tell us about the kind of consumers who drink your wine?

Our market is mainly addressed to a foreign clientele, because we run a hotel, and it is the hotel guests who tend to consume our wine. We’re proud to say we keep our customers very happy. However, we would like to have a wider distribution in certain countries, where some clients find it difficult to find our wines.

How would you compare the workshop methodology at Wine Pleasures to a large-scale wine trade fair?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of both?

 Wine Pleasures workshopItalian laws and customs can make it difficult to export wine internationally, but we are pleased to say we’ve been very successful with our exporting. We take great pleasure in making our international customers happy when we successfully export to their country. This is the first Wine Pleasures workshop we will attend. It appears to be very well-organized. We are very hopeful it will bring good, and perhaps better, results than large trade fairs.

Which of your sparkling wines would recommend for a wedding celebration?

Barrachi, one of the 50 Great Sparkling Wine Producers 2013Our winery was the first winery in the world to produce a sparkling wine made with Sangiovese grapes following the Metodo Classico (Classic Method). We pour this sparkling wine into flutes for all our wedding toasts at the winery hotel! We are pleased to announce that it was awarded 92 points in the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2013 e-book.

If you are a wine importer and would like to attend the upcoming Workshop Buyer meets Italian Cellar (4-6 November 2013) as an invited buyer and meet Baracchi, there are still a couple of places available!

50 Great Sparkling Wine Corks to Pop in 2013

50 Great Sparkling Wines 2013 CoverAfter solely focusing their publishing efforts into demystifying the sparkling Spanish delicacy, cava, by creating the annually released 50 Great Cavas eBook, the innovative minds of Wine Pleasures have once again become inspired to spread the good wine word. Wine Pleasures, the popular online haven for advice, explanation, and general information regarding the world of wine, is ready to broaden their readers’ horizons in a very literal way.

50 Great Sparkling WinesThis premier online publication of 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World marks a momentous occasion for Wine Pleasures. While previously and continuously utilizing their platform in the wine community to provide an outlet of exposure for Spanish cavas, they are now able to introduce sparkling wines from all over the globe. Anthony Swift, founder and owner of Wine Pleasures, explains, “We have a mission and a responsibility to enrich our readers’ wealth of knowledge of wine from any and all wine regions of the world. We know how difficult it can be to uncover this information, even on the internet.”

Finca Sophenia 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2013There is no doubt that Wine Pleasures’ 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World will fulfill the online wine world’s needs for sparkling wine information, by all but pouring them a glass of the alluring elixirs. The book will provide the history of sparkling wine, detailed explanation of the various production methods used, and, of course, a list of the 50 great sparkling wines, with accompanying profiles of their respective wineries. A delightful bonus to the package is the brilliant photographs that accompany the winery descriptions, transporting the reader from the rugged mountains of Argentina all the way to the rolling coastal vineyards of Italy.

Gramona 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2013While Wine Pleasures knows how important facts and information are to their wine worshiping readers, they are well aware of what they might place on a slightly higher pedestal:  wine quality. Armed with this knowledge, they recruited five the most experienced and respected experts in the business. This equally valuable yet extremely diverse panel of tasters is comprised of individuals who have worked in and around the industry for nearly their entire lives, devoting much of their energy to furthering their education and continually gaining experience in the art and science of wine. With this collection of competent and discerning palates judging each given wine according to its colour, bouquet, balance, sparkle-retention, flavor, and finish, 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World is certain to have a delicious and decisively scored selection of sparkling wines.

Even more amazing than Wine Pleasures’ enthusiasm for sharing the world of wine with the world wide web is their generosity in doing so. That’s right, when 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World is released on October 1st, all readers have to relinquish is a few measly megabytes of computer memory.

50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2013 available here>>

Meet the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2013 Judges – Colin Harkness

Colin Harkness 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World judge 2013In continued celebration of our first 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World book, we are introducing yet another of our impressive judges. As previously mentioned, upon choosing who we would invite to participate in our judging panel, we sought to fill some specific niches. While we approached Colin due to his wealth of experience in the wine world, he undoubtedly has the passion and perspective to fill any given space at our table.

While it is fairly common to have some familial or communal influence directing one’s path into the wine industry, such was not the case with the likes of the now celebrated wine guru, Colin Harkness. Growing up in a home absent of any alcohol in the UK, it wasn’t until after Colin graduated from physical education teaching college and began working that he became familiar with fine foods, which finally led him to becoming completely smitten with the fine wines that paired with them. His thirst for more knowledge and experience with wine took off at a rocket’s pace, as he picked the brains of friends most familiar with the allured concoction and eventually took it upon himself to dive deeper into the wine world.

After many years of teaching, Colin was offered the prestigious and much coveted position as a professional football scout for English Premier League team, Liverpool FC. Whilst continuing his love affair with wine, Colin took the position, only to relinquish it years later when his passions bubbled over at last. Noticing a lack of wine enthused restaurants in his area, he took it upon himself to fill this gap and opened up his first restaurant with much success. Colin studied diligently to ensure that his wine and pairings were exceptional, taking several courses and even eventually achieving a Wine & Spirit Education Trust certification.

Colin’s enthrallment further intensified when he moved to Spain and began focusing locally. Realizing the potential for a career in his new country, he approached the English Language Newspaper Group and immediately began his own wine column. Sixteen years later, he is still writing the column, suitably named, Cork Talk, which had led to many invitations to write for several other magazines and newspapers in Spain and the UK and to attend major wine fairs locally and even globally, all of which Colin has enthusiastically welcomed and accepted. He has even written and presented television specials about wines from southeast Spain in Regional networks and is featured as a wine specialist on several different radio programs.

Through the various positions Colin has undertaken within the industry since his initial involvement, he has gained immense respect as an ultimate authority on all things wine. Most recently in 2010, he began receiving requests to judge wine competitions, the first of which was the prestigious Cata-Concurso DO Rías Baixas Albariño, followed by the Certamen de Vinos Yecla, the Decanter Magazine Spanish Panel, and even the world famous International Wines and Spirits Competition, which he has attended annually.

50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World will be available to download free by 1 October 2013. Click on the photo for a free copy:

50 Great Sparkling wines 2013

Meet the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2013 Judges – Ruth Troyano

50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2013 judge: Ruth TroyanoAs many of our readers know, at the end of August, we conducted our very first sparkling wine tasting here at Wine Pleasures. Sparkling wines from all over the globe entered into our competition, and we were very excited about the prospect of providing our readers with a whole new set of ´must-drinks´ to add to their wine lists. Having begun preparations for this event several months prior, we knew that we needed to procure several necessities even before we received any bubbles: The judges. We sought only the most experienced and discerning experts to carry out this difficult task, and held our breath as we waited for their reply… And luckily, they all enthusiastically agreed to take a seat at our tasting table, with their well-educated and versatile taste buds at the ready!

One of the first people we contacted was, surprisingly, someone who hadn’t been working in the wine industry for very long at all. However, what Ruth Troyano Puig lacks in specific work field experience, she certainly makes up for with a lifelong passion and healthy thirst for wine knowledge.

Born in Reus, in the area of Tarragona, which was the birthplace of architecture genius, Antoni Gaudí, and has always been an important producer of wine, Ruth grew up in the perfect location to cultivate her devotion for wine. Having worked as a news editor, radio station presenter, press secretary, and even as a head of department for the Catalan government, she had never ceased pursuing a more fulfilling professional life. Fortunately for us, just two years ago, she has admittedly come closer to fulfillment than ever before. She decided to go back to school to study for a master’s degree in wine tourism while simultaneously beginning to write her online blog Vi·Moments·Persones, which focuses on the idea of presenting the most perfect combination of all: Wine, moments, and people. Through this blogging experience, she has had the opportunity to meet with several influential individuals in the wine world of Catalonia and beyond.

Now that Ruth has broken into the industry and made a name for herself as a freelance wine journalist, she has decided to go even further in her quest for knowledge and is taking university classes to become a sommelier. Currently, she is utilizing her journalism skills by collaborating with several companies, including Cooperativa of Falset Marçà and the Hotel Hostal Sport—both located in the Priorat—and the start-up Vidirecte.cat, which sells catalan wine online.

50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World will be available to download free by 1 October 2013. Click on the photo for a free copy:

50 Great Sparkling wines 2013

In Search of Spain’s only Sparkling Red Wine

Wine Pleasures visits Lobban WinesJourneying through the countryside in the car we watched the mountains pass by. Eventually, in a little village, around the corner from a church and down a little street we found the location for the winery. But all we saw was what appeared to be a street of houses. Surprisingly enough, one of those houses was what we were looking for: the Lobban winery.

This is the smallest winery in the region, possibly in Spain, where all stages of the process are done by only one woman; Pamela Geddes, who originally comes from Scotland. She has worked with various different wine makers, in Spain, in Australia and in Chile, and she studied micro-biology at university. She has therefore gained the knowledge and experience in order to create her own unique wines, which are all traditionally hand-made.

Pamela Geddes, Lobban WinesWe entered the winery and seemed to see everything in one glance, except there were many details around the space; on top of the wine bottles and between them were objects such as thermometers, pots of yeast, cleaning utensils and other things, including boxes. It was interesting to look closer at the many items lying around.

This was in the main room, which has the racks where the sparkling wines ferment, with crates for putting bottles after they have been shaken and then the old-fashioned pupitres where the bottles are left top-down so that the sediment can settle in the end to be removed.

Wine Pleasures visits Lobban WinesIn the smaller room at the back, which can also be seen from the entrance, were a couple more elements of the winery. There we saw the refrigerator system to keep the temperature low and also the machine used to disgorge and cork the wines. Again, this is an outdated item where the machine only helps the winemaker to complete the action by hand, but in this case it is still in current use.

50 Great Sparkling wines 2013 Lobban WinesPamela then showed us where she stuck the labels on the bottles and explained to us about the design. The first one she described was for La Pamelita, a sparkling red named after herself, whose image is made of several elements, including a footprint, stairs and a cross, which all have some significance to the company and its location. The other sparkling wine, a rosé called La Rosita, has a simple carnation on a pink background. These labels were designed by a local Catalan designer.(see the video for the full story behind the labels)

Pamela only makes 8000 bottles per year and distributes them mostly in the UK, both England and Scotland, with only a small distribution in Spain. So look out for her sparkling wines and also her still red, the more masculine el gordito, which can be found through Indigo Wines or the Lobban Wines website.

Lobban wines will be featured in the very first edition of the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World available from October 2013

Freya Holdsworth

In Search of Spain’s only Red Sparkling Wine from Wine Pleasures on Vimeo.