Great Value Spanish Sparkling Wines

It’s hard to find sparkling wines with significant aging and complexity for this value.

RAW Wine Week is finally calming down, though we’ve not stopped tasting wines since Saturday night. As always, we have been particularly excited about Clos Lentiscus, not only for the quality of the wines but the commitment to indigenous grapes and the desire to age these grapes in serious and unexpected ways. For this tasting we wanted to focus on some of his sparkling wine offerings from Penedès, near the coast in Catalonia.

All 2013 vintages, these wines highlight grapes ranging from Carignan to Sumoll, each with significant time aged on lees. The result is one rosé, one Blanc de Blancs and one Blanc de Noirs that reflect the terrior and characteristics of the grapes so well while offering depth of flavor, from dried fruit to almond to savory herbs. In our experience, it’s hard to find sparkling wines with significant aging and complexity for this value.

Clos Lentiscus, Rosé 41 Brut Nature

Clos Lentiscus Rosé Brut Nature (2013)

What an exciting sparkling rosé from Catalonia. It’s not at all what we expected. A deep pink in color, the nose is musky, with a whiff of sea breeze and red fruit. On the palette, the initial taste is strawberry, cherry and apricot, tart but with a dry and dense body that also manages to capture some expected Mediterranean notes. There is beautiful structure from the mid palette on to the finish featuring some wet minterality, a nuttiness reminiscent of almond, saline and a touch of tannic earth. Carignan is a notoriously big and wild grape but the winemaker manages to bring out all of the best qualities in a dynamic, expressive way. It’s not the light-bodied sparkling rosé you might expect but it is 100% delicious.

Clos Lentiscus, Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature

Clos Lentiscus Greco Di Subur Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature (2013)

Though not as complex as the Rosé Brut Nature, the Blanc de Blancs manages to capture both a vibrant acidity and the significant bottle fermentation, which lends yeasty, richer notes. It’s a beautiful clear amber in color. When drinking, the fruit manages to creep up, particularly in the mid palette, with a chalky, mineral finish that is enjoyable but also manages to provide the much needed structure to this wine. Bubbles are very soft and tend to diffuse quite quickly in the glass. In many ways, this is the sparkling rosé’s purer cousin, a real demonstration of how a typically sweet wine grape, the Malvasia de Sitges, can yield a drier, more effervescent wine for all occasions.

Clos Lentiscus, Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature

Clos Lentiscus Sumoll Reserva Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature (2013)

Of the wines from Lentiscus, this is his most expensive (though still much cheaper than comparable sparklers) and also his most subtle and refined. Out of the glass, the wine is orange in color with a vibrant aroma. Like the rosé, red fruit predominates upfront but here a tartness rules out over the dried fruit intensity. Because the wine was fermented with rosemary honey on the second fermentation, you get a decidedly herbaceous, round mid-palette without any residual sugars. It manages to finish in quite a savory way, owing to the 30 months of lees aging, though it is not at all as full bodied in the same way with ginger that gives an extra lift the others do not have.

We also love the Lentiscus Perill Noir, another exemplary expression of a still aged Sumoll.

Until next time, happy sipping! 

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