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Juvé & Camps Reserva Essential Xarello Brut 2014

Juvé & Camps Reserva Essential Xarello Brut 2014

The winemaker at Juvé & Camps attributes this Cava's round, rich mouthfeel to the presence of polysaccharides released during fermentation, as well as during the process of maturation on the lees. Indeed, all of the wines in this lineup display autolytic features to a greater or lesser degree. The 2014 Reserva Essential Xarello Brut also has a compelling herbal profile. Asian pear aromas. In the mouth, dry mint, fennel, and smoke swirl around a deliciously creamy mid-palate. 12.0% ABV | sample Juvé & Camps 9.0 Points...

Juvé & Camps Cava Gran Reserva Brut 2012

Juvé & Camps Cava Gran Reserva Brut 2012

The color of onion skin, Juvé & Camps Cava Gran Reserva Brut 2012 unfurls at a leisurely pace. Smoky, autolytic notes rise above decadently layered aromas of dried fruit, molasses, baked apple, forest honey, and almond skins. As fine, cascading bubbles dart to and fro, springing forth from a core that is softly textured and clean, endowed with stone fruit and citrus. That beguiling smoky note reemerges at the close. 7 g/l RS, 12.0% ABV | Sample Juvé & Camps 9.0 Points...

Juvé & Camps Cava Gran Reserva Brut Nature Reserva de la Familia 2012

Juvé & Camps Cava Gran Reserva Brut Nature Reserva de la Familia 2013

Another Cava from my visit to the region last year—according to the winemaker, 2013 was a cooler, wetter vintage in the region—in the lineup we tasted, this bottle, the Reserva Brut Nature Reserva de la Familia 2013 was appreciably leaner, but also fresher in its comportment. Fennel, white peach, lime, and grapefruit pith dominate the profile, rendered more complex by toast, puff pastry and smoke, amid a torrent of bubbles. 12.0% ABV | Sample Juvé & Camps 9.1 Points...

Juvé & Camps Penedès Gregal d'Espiells 2015

Juvé & Camps Penedès Gregal d’Espiells 2015

The only still wine I tasted on the day we visited Juvé & Camps. It was late spring and this blossomy white—the 2015 Penedès Gregal d'Espiells-is made from organically-grown Muscat Alexandria. It's surprisingly light and fresh with vivid tones of rose tea, chamomile crushed underfoot, mango and yellow peach. In the mouth, it's tarter than expected. Lemongrass, lime zest, and subtle minerality are extraordinarily long, seemingly brittle finish. Sample Juvé & Camps 8.8 Points...

Juvé & Camps Cava Gran Reserva La Capella 2006

Juvé & Camps Cava Gran Reserva La Capella 2006

My visit to Catalonia last spring proved to be an eye-opening experience. There, I would learn that some Cavas, with this monovarietal Xarel·lo, have the potential to age. The Cava Gran Reserva The Capella Brut Nature 2006 matured on its lees for 108 months, gracing it with enormous complexity and depth, as only the passage of time can do. Baked apple, walnut skins, and exotic curry powder round out the nose. A fine, creamy mousse fades into honeyed pastry-a sharp contrast to the pleasantly bitter, seductively earthy tones of celery root, lime zest, white grapefruit, and fleur de sel that emerge on the finish. 12.0% ABV | sample Juvé & Camps 9.3 Points...

Dinastía Vivanco Rioja Viura-Malvasía-Tempranillo Blanco 2016

Dinastía Vivanco Rioja Blanco 2016

Soft in tone and texture, Vivanco's 2016 Rioja Blanco is a non-traditional blend of 50% Viura, 35% Tempranillo Blanco, and 15% Maturana Blanca. It's the color of sun-bleached straw, and with a swirl radiates underripe pineapple, yellow apple, pear, lemon blossom, and barley flour. Lees contact has graced this Rioja blend with deceptive softness on entry, a sensation that quickly gives way to a backbone etched in lemon-pith. Nice value in this bottle and an solid food wine as well. 13.0% ABV | Sample Dinastía Vivanco 8.9 Points...

San Alejandro Las Rocas Garnacha Calatayud 2014

San Alejandro Las Rocas Garnacha Calatayud 2014

Nice value in this Calatayud Garnacha—loaded with plums, savory red cherries, and violets couched in earth. The 2014 San Alejandro Las Rocas Garnacha is a food wine through and through, with a shock of acidity that ricochet’s through it’s red and black fruited core. If there is any oak here, it’s not evident. Tart red cherries along with a mineral vein re-emerge on the finish in a juicy burst. The vines are planted in calcareous soils at a high altitude, and it's entirely evident in this wine's profile. 15.3% ABV | Sample Bodega San Alejandro 9.0 Points...

Lafou Celler Terra Alta El Sender 2015

LaFou Celler Terra Alta El Sender 2015

LaFou's 2015 El Sender is a young, slightly unruly blend of Garnaxta Negra and Syrah. Aged in concrete, it's vivid and fresh, emitting a constant stream of pungent black cherries, strawberries and blackberry pie. Dried flowers and anise crown the nose—a plunge into the wine itself reveals purity of fruit, crunchy acidity contrasting soft texture. I'd love to revisit this wine in a year or two. 14.0% ABV | Sample LaFou Celler 8.9 Points...

Mistinguett Cava Brut Nature NV

Mistinguett Cava Brut Nature NV

Another winery visited on a recent press trip to Catalunya, Mistinguett is one of the larger Cava producers in the region, turning out values like this Brut Nature. The arrow of their marketing is squarely aimed at youth and celebration, indeed, it was hard to glean anything about the technical aspects of this wine since I couldn't navigate past the image of a young girl in a party dress, sporting this season's rose gold locks. "Did you feel attracted?", the website coyly asked. Well, no. Thankfully I was onsite to glean that this particular specimen is a classic blend of Cava varieties: Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel·lo. It's an honest wine, straightforward and subtly sweet, presenting notes of Mott's applesauce, lemon pith, white jasmine, and a dusting of minerality at the close. Sample Masia Vallformosa 8.6 Points...

Lafou De Batea 2013

Lafou De Batea 2013

LaFou is a small producer in the Terra Alta region of Spain, one I was lucky to visit on a recent trip to the Catalan. An expressive, fruit-driven blend of old vine Garnacha Negra and Garnacha Carignan—it's heavily laden in pie cherries, strawberries roasted in balsamic, olive tapenade, and warm spice. Intense and concentrated in the mouth, here red fruit is lifted by a jolt of bright acidity at the center, a vortex that dwindles to complex flavors of sweet tobacco, Yankee Candle and Christmas Pudding. LaFou Celler 9.1 Points...