Can Blau — Can You Blau Too?

montsantSorry for the silly title — I couldn’t resist playing with this (kinda odd) name.

To get down to the serious stuff, Mas de Can Blau is all about new, but it acts like it’s been around forever.

I’m talking about a wine called Celler Can Blau Mas de Can Blau, which looks like a typo but drinks like a dream. And what’s new about all this is that not only is the winery (Celler Can Blau) relatively new, but so is the D.O., or (in English) appellation, from which it comes.

Let’s start again, and clarify all these confusing words. Celler Can Blau is a winery that began in 2003 as a partnership between Spain’s Gil Vera family and Victor Rodriguez. None of these folks were new to Spanish wine, but they set out to develop a relatively new wine region. Their winery is in the Montsant D.O., and I have to admit that I’d never heard of it.blau

Turns out that the Montsant appellation was created in 2001, and includes a horseshoe-shaped patch of land that surrounds the more famous Priorat region on three sides. Montsant is unique in its soils if not its climate. The weather is fairly typical for a Spanish wine region: the summer days are hot and dry, but mountains nearby bring very cool nights (remember that Diurnal Temperature Shift I’ve talked about before? Wine grapes thrive when there’s a big difference, like 25 – 30 degrees C, between the daytime and nighttime temperatures. This builds structure to help create a balanced, bold wine).

Montsant’s soils are more unique: they include three very different soil types, each suited for a particular grape variety. And guess what? Can Blau creates it’s wine from those three different grapes.: Carinena (Carignan to some), Syrah and Garnacha (Grenache).  Now that makes perfect sense.

The wine I tasted was Celler Can Blau Mas de Can Blau 2005 (thanks to our friend Gary Johns for sharing it with us). This is their premium blend, and it’s gotten plenty of big ratings to prove it. And according to one report, it has an interesting parentage: the winemakers are Australian Liz Reed and Spaniard Richard Rofes. Interesting…

From the minute I poured the 2005, I knew I was delaing with a big wine. It was opaque in color, suggesting that it was bottled unfiltered (which it was). The nose was massive right off the cork. There were gobs of intense, ripe fruit aromas, suggesting boysenberry, smoky plum, and licorice.

The palate was just as big, although six years of aging had tamed the tannins nicely. I got more dark berry fruit, espresso, and a hint of earth. After it sat for awhile, I got soft mocha and some pungent pine or cedar.

Wow. There’s a lot of complexity, a lot of extraction, and great balance. I’m drinking this in 2011 and this 2005 vintage is still fresh, with decent acid keeping it in balance. It saw a lot of oak — 18 months in new oak barrels — but the wood didn’t intrude.

This top-of-the-line offering goes for somewhere around $50, so it competes with the premium Spanish reds such as Clio and Finca Sandoval. I think it measures up, and I know I’d like to taste the two lower-priced wines from Can Blau.


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