Just the Bottle

One woman's adventure in beer, food, wine and spirits

Filtering by Tag: Wine Travel

Transparency at Portal del Montsant

"Don't follow trends" is part of the ethos of Portal del Montsant. Their story begins in 2003 after finding the perfect space that once housed the old Marcá wine cooperative. 

The majority  - 95% - of their wine production is Garnacha and Cariñena. Portal del Montsant sources from small plots of land they consider their "crus." The plots produce different expressions through their soil (clay, chalk, and sand), elevation (ranging from 700-800 meters), and age of vines (average of 60 years old). Generally, they practice organic winemaking and growing, but aren't certified. These factors among their desire to produce wines they would enjoy create something special. 

Portal del Montsant produces around 250,000 bottles per year with 85%-90% remaining within the Spanish market. 

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Santbru Vinyes Velles

The Portal del Montsant Santbru Vinyes Velles was one of the stand out wines to me that I also purchased. I sampled the 2013 within their gorgeous space and purchased the 2014 to bring home. The 2014 paired perfectly with the delicious lamb paella my significant other made upon my return. It recently received 90 point rating in Wine Enthusiast. There is an earthiness that is almost smoky to me that came through with spicy red fruit. 

These are not wines to sleep on especially considering the limited export market. If you do find the Santbru especially the very enjoyable 2014 vintage, perhaps have more restraint than me and allow it to age some. I can only imagine what this wine will taste like in the next 5 years, which perhaps leads me to planning my next trip to Spain again soon. 

Freedom to Express Great Wine at Big Cork Vineyards

There's something special about Big Cork Vineyards and it's evident when you enter. From the whimsical decor with big and small corks dotted around the room to the attentive and knowledgeable staff greeting you and finally to the breath taking views. Dave Collins serves as BIG winemaker (master winemaker and head of operations). His passion and dedication is evident in the wine and felt in the vibe of the place.

"We grow whatever we want." Dave explained as we began a wine journey through his storied career and what he's done at Big Cork. It's true. This man is the epitome of "I do what I want" shunning others' ideas to what should or could be done. He's one of the first to grow Nebbiolo when he was at Breaux Vineyards. That time allowed him to gain confidence and win many  awards. Dave doesn't do this by having an interventionist style, but by taking chances and risks that have taken others years to be willing to try.

I don't think Dave always wants to be known for his Nebbiolo (even though it is a rock star), but did have an almost holy experience visiting Piedmont. This brought I believe a newfound love into something he had already been executing beautifully. 

Dave seems most excited about "Russian Kiss." Russian Kiss is made up of three proprietary Russian varietals. These varietals are simply numbered with no names. They were brought into the United States in the 1970s by Purdue University as research varietals. These varietals have no American linage and are very Germanic in style. This was wine that I think will only grow with popularity and time as Dave continues to play with the varietals. 

There is something intriguing or enjoyable in every wine produced at Big Cork under Dave's guidance. We enjoyed another Italian varietal that is sometimes a forgotten gem - Barbera. Big Cork makes it a flag ship and there's a reason why. It shines here with great tannins and acidity. 

"That's kind of fun," Dave shares as he lights up talking about all that he's working on and what we can expect in the future. I expect more fun concerts, great wine, and laughter with friends with wine in a beautiful space.