Helder's Wine Selection: A Taste of Catalonia

At Fazenda our commitment to curating an exceptional dining experience extends beyond the plate and into the depths of our carefully selected wine lists. Recently we sat down with Helder, General Manager, wine lover and coinosseur, to uncover a personal wine that holds a special place in his heart. The recommendation, available across our Fine Wines Menu in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham, transports him to an important time and place.

"Three weeks ago, I had the pleasure of tasting the Comte Pirenne Priorat 2008 wine. Approximately 8 years prior I had tried the 2001 and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was eager to see how a more recent year of the same wine would compare. As the bottle was brought to the table, I found myself transported to the Priorat Region in Catalonia, immersed in the unique terroir and character of the 2008 vintage...

It's very early morning, and I am sitting in the high slopes of the Cariñena and Garnacha vineyards. On a very late September day, the sun hasn't risen yet, and I can see a group of people walking through the vineyards, some of them carrying baskets in their hands. Someone has carefully considered the precise day and time to commence the picking of the ripe grapes, taking into account the ideal levels of acidity and sugars, ensuring the grapes are harvested while the day's temperature remains cool. They aim to have all grapes picked and brought to the winery before 10 am.

I imagine that these tired, very old vines (some 90 years old) are struggling, using their roots to supplement from the poor and infertile Licorella soils, fighting to get as many nutrients and minerals as possible to feed the very low yield they will produce. I sit wondering how concentrated the resulting bunches must be, and at the high heat of the climate, what if they did not have the protection of the Montsant mountains or were not planted on the high slopes? What did all of these factors do to this 2008 bottle I was about to try?

When I tried this wine, I thought it likely that it could have some sediments at the bottom of the bottle, so I carefully served it in the glass. I also had it slightly cooler, at about 15-17 degrees, as I think it helps to maintain its freshness. The wine was as delicious as I was expecting. Visually, even after aging for 16 years, it was still a very deep ruby/purple colour with delightful aromas of ripe black fruits, licorice, and spice.

On the palate, it was full-bodied with a rich, concentrated texture; it was almost chewable with flavours of black fruits, minerals, chocolate, and smoky notes. Firm but polished tannins, with great structure but at the same time, very elegant for a wine with such power, surely helped by the balanced acidity. Truly a great wine.

Ultimately, this wine is the result of its exceptional grapes, the unique terroir of the Priorat region, the meticulous care and generational tradition applied throughout its production.

I have never actually been to Catalonia, but this wine surely translates what the region is about and what they do best in that part of the world."

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