2017 La Vinyeta Llavors Empordà

An odd blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Samsó or Carignan. Llavors means some thing like then or formerly in Catalan it seems. The ‘then’ referenced was September 2017 and the referendum for Catalan independence. Two years on and there are crowds again massing on the streets of Barcelona and Girona. Choosing the local granite kitchen splash back as a background makes my eyes go a bit funny and the 2017 pro independence crowd photo on the label hard to see, oh well, perhaps the Madrid government would approve? The wine’s a typical Empordà mix of sweet ripe dark berry and chocolate fruit gripped firmly by those iron and granite tannins. Touch of oak seasons nicely. Clean and well made without losing the sense of place or it’s rustic grunt. On the basis of a brief flirtation involving two bottles, La Vinyeta could be a producer to pursue further if you’re lucky enough to find yourself Catalunya bound.

14.50% alcohol. Cork. 12 euro worth of value.

90 points.

2017 Celler Pujol Cargol El Missatger Samsó Negre

Carignan on its best behaviour. Dense, fresh and perfectly ripe. Unencumbered by woody flavour and full of black and blue berries, bruised plums, licorice, all firmly disciplined by ripe tannin and acidity. So good it unravelled effortlessly over three days with some profound weighty fruit. Some of those Carignan roasting pan juices and severe Catalan rocky frowns too. So good, the empty bottle went blithely to the recycling bin before it posed for a photo. The image above got nicked from some web images, apologies for copyright crime. Good thing few will look too hard…

13.50% alcohol. Cork. 10.75 euros for a great wine.

94 points plus kudos for pure deliciousness.

2018 Oliver Conti Indispensable Negre Empordà DO

Another Grenache Carignan blend with a small addition of Cabernet Sauvignon this time. Medium bodied, clean and indeed indispensable for the table without too much analysis, except for around here of course. Red crunchy fruits backed up by woody herbs and that serious faced tug of Catalan stoney resolution. Impressive how the ripeness pushes into sweet Grenache warm pleasure but still holds a cut of cool glistening acid. Just like the beach weather today, languid 26 degrees of late summer sun freshened by the cool Tramontane breeze blowing down from the Pyrenees.

13.50% alcohol. Cork. Good wine for all at 7 euros in the local supermarket.

90 points of assured pleasure.

2016 Domaine de Blayac Minervois

Seriously, this is probably the best under a lobster* Woolies’ import ever. There, bold statement. Probably a love of old vine Carignan from Languedoc Roussillon sways the claim. The blend is Carignan, Grenache and Shiraz but it’s that sweet, caramelised roasting pan juice character that drives this spotlessly clean, softly delicious mouthful. Somehow there’s a ripeness level where the bright red fruit and clunky acidity of Carignan turns dark, mysterious and soft. There’s also dark, dark berries and velvet tannin. If quality is judged by how quickly the bottle empties, two of us were looking for the last drops as we mopped up our pasta sauce, all gone…

*in the unlikely event of a reader from outside Australia, a lobster is slang for a twenty dollar note and Woolies is one of our big, dominant supermarkets. Currency colours as brash as us.

13% alcohol. Cork. $14.30 in a six pack.

93 points but more pointedly, delicious.

2017 Domaine des Montèzes Carignan IGP

From Larzac in Languedoc. Perfumed and primary, really fresh and bright, mid weight, clean and red fruited, nicely ripe but still hanging onto the crunchy, firm handshake of Carignan’s acidity. The tannin lurks behind. Great favourite country cousin sort of grape. Another unwavering selection from Juhlès leading to some frantic posting.

13% alcohol. Cork. 11 euros.

91 points.