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The 2013 Vintage in Spain and vintage charts

Monday 23rd December 2013 - By David Moore

Freshly harvested garnacha grapes in the Vinos de Madrid DO

Freshly harvested garnacha grapes in the Vinos de Madrid DO

The 2013 harvest was completed a few weeks ago and emerging wines will mostly have gone through their primary fermentations, although picking was late throughout the country in some cases up to a month. It’s possible to gain an early indication of what the new vintage in Spain’s major red wine regions Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Priorat is looking like.

In Rioja the harvest was very late, the most extended of recent times. Without the drought experienced in 2012 the crop was up a little on the previous year. Growers though are optimistic because fine autumn weather provided good ripening conditions throughout September and October and fruit was picked at optimum maturity. See the following link from Rioja Wine for a complete report.

It looks to be a similar situation in Ribera del Duero. Like Rioja crop levels were up on the previous drought restricted year. It has though been a difficult year with damp spring and early summer weather. The best results will come from those who were alert in the vineyard and selective at harvest.

In Priorat a damp spring was followed by a hot dry summer. Picking was also late and there is plenty of optimism. While crop levels across Cataluña were marginally up on the previous year many top wines in the DOCa are well below optimum yield. Some fine wines will certainly emerge and at likely significant prices as well.

If you want to keep a track of recent vintages across the country Wines from Spain have a very comprehensive vintage chart which can be accessed free of charge on their website at the following - link.

Wines and wineries of the week

Wednesday 4th September 2013 - By David Moore

Château St-Jacques d’Albas – Minervois

Chai Barriques

The barrel cellar at Château St-Jacques d'Albas

Graham Nutter makes some excellent and well-priced Minervois reds at this property in the southern Languedoc, which he purchased in 2001. Like so many other small properties throughout the Midi it is the new owners over the past decade or so who have rejuvenated the region. Prior to 2001 the harvest here was sold to one of the local co-ops.

Both the Château St-Jacques d’Albas label and marginally more approachable Domaine St-Jacques d’Albas offer real quality and value with winemaking expertise being provided by Australian Richard Osborne. The spicy dark-fruited 2009 Domaine red was a blend of Syrah with Grenache and Mouvèdre from older vines. Since 2010 Carignan has also been included. The grapes are all de-stemmed and while carbonic maceration is not employed the must gets a short cold soak prior to fermentation to ensure an attractive and vibrant fruit character.

The Château label red is a personal favourite from the property. In 2008 it was firmly structured and full of black fruits with a spicy, peppery edge. Coming Syrah and Grenache, part of which is vinified without a pre-fermentation maceration, the Syrah component is aged for approximately a year in French oak, around 20% of which is new.

As well as the two wines profiled here there is an additional premium Minervois, ‘La Chapelle’, which is named after an 11th century church on the property. It is almost all Syrah and from the best lieu-dit on the property. You should ensure you give it four or five years in your cellar to fully bring the fruit and oak into perfect harmony. A fine, juicy rosé is also made, a blend of Syrah and Grenache, a white from Vermentino, Viognier and Rousanne, as well as a Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon-based red for a trio of IGP (formerly Vin de Pays) d’Oc’s.

2008 Minervois – Château St-Jacques d’Albas – 88pts/100

2009 Minervois – Domaine St-Jacques d’Albas – 86pts /100

Find and buy wines from Chateau St-Jacques d’Albas via Wine Searcher

You can visit the producers website here:

Somewhere different to stay near Barcelona?

Thursday 15th August 2013 - By Janey Gilbert

Can Ràfols dels Caus

Stay somewhere outside Barcelona? Can Piula, an original seventeenth-century shepherd’s cottage is situated on the Can Ràfols dels Caus estate, in the heart of a small valley of gently-sloping vineyards scattered with almond trees, aromatic herbs and wild flowers. The entrance to the cottage is framed by a beautiful apricot tree and has a lovely front terrace.  

The cottage is the perfect base camp for visiting wineries, whether it is the Can Ràfols dels Caus estate itself or the many other places that this wine-producing region has to offer. An ideal location for trekking or just relaxing and unwinding in the Penedès, the Garraf Natural Park and Sitges the former fishing village and haven of artists and bohemians. The Mediterranean coast is just 12 minutes away, Barcelona is 35 minutes away and the Roman walled city of Tarragona is only 45 minutes away. See video on their website:


The farmhouse at Can Comas
The farmhouse at Can Comas

There is an old farmhouse on the Can Comas estate available to rent, sleeps five,  surrounded by a large garden and typical Mediterranean pine forest plus swimming pool. Barcelona is only 35 km away with Port Aventura, Tarragona 40 km. Location great for wine lovers with Wine museum at Vilafranca del Penedès plus a great Saturday market. Beaches Costa Daurada are not far, Sitges is 35 km (featured in June on Made in Chelsea!) or beach at Vilanova is only 20Km also great walks, bicycling and horse riding close by.

Visits to the Can Comas estate to see the vineyards, winery and taste some of the Pardas wines are free although by appointment only.

Visiting Hours: Monday to Friday 10.00 to 12.30 and 16.00 to 18.30 Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10.00 to 13.30

Contact details:

Finca Can Comas – 08775 Torrelavit – BARCELONA

A Barcelona day trip to Cava and Penedès?

Thursday 15th August 2013 - By Janey Gilbert

Torres Santa Margarida Agulladolç Estate in Penedès
Torres Santa Margarida Agulladolç Estate in Penedès

Prefer to be completely stress free for a wine visit? Then a trip on the Catalunya Bus Turistico to explore some vineyards to the South of Barcelona in Cava & Penedes is a good option! The Cava and Penedès DO both have their headquarters in Vilafranca del Penedès with the vineyards centred between Tarragona and Barcelona.

Half day Wine and Cava Route with Catalunya Bus Turistico - €59.00.

The ticket includes a guided tour and tasting of different wines at Jean León Winery, steeped in Hollywood glamour, a tour and combined tasting (cheeses and wines) at Bodegues Torres, and learn about Miquel Torres, one of Spain’s great winemaking pioneers and then culminating with a tasting of different Cavas and brunch at Caves Freixenet, one of the major names of Cava .

Alternatively, Can Rafols dels Caus would provide a delightful morning or afternoon visit. Among the best sources of both organically farmed Penedès and Cava, the whites are particularly striking with a piercing minerality present in all.  Around 15 kms inland from the Mediterranean the vineyards are within the traditional boundaries of the Garraf National Park. A  €15 tour taking up to 2 hours will take you from grape to wine with a tasting of two wines and a Cava, accompanied by locally-made cured meats, cheese, country-style bread and olive oil made on the estate. The original farmhouse dates back to Roman times.

Get details here

Visiting Barcelona?

Thursday 15th August 2013 - By Janey Gilbert

 Looking across to Barcelona from the Alta Alella vineyards
Looking across to Barcelona from the Alta Alella vineyards

If you are visiting Barcelona in August or September we bring you three wine travel blogs with some ideas.

There is much to do in Barcelona however, if you feel like a break for half a day, perhaps combining this with exploring further afield, there are two producers well worth a visit in the small coastal DO of Alella, just to the north of Barcelona. There is increasing urban encroachment. Established in 1956, the area under vine of around 300 ha, is now only around a third of the original land planted. The vineyards stretch from the coast inland to higher altitudes. You can find the full profiles of all the producers mentioned in the blogs in España Vino.

Alta Alella

This nineteenth-century estate produces an extensive range of organic wines as well as a number of Cavas. Located 2 km from the Mediterranean between the towns of Alella and Tiana it is the closest cellar to Barcelona, just 20 minutes from the city centre. From one of their higher vineyards you can see the sea. Yoga and wine tasting? Yes! Have a look at the various options on their website here - There are simple tours walking through the vineyards then tasting, as well as various workshops and tastings.

Contact details: Tel +34 93 461 37 20 or email from their website -

Parxet/Marqués de Alella

Since 1920, Parxet has been producing Cava in the Alella region. It is home to the Pansa Blanca grape variety planted in granite based Sauló soils. To enjoy their Cava is a treat! If you have time and are hiring a car, a gastronomic tasting at Parxet, which combines exclusive foods with their wines would be an enjoyable and informative diversion. This takes place in their Can Matons farmhouse, next to their cellar in Santa Maria de Martorelles, itself surrounded by the vineyards.

To arrange a visit to the cellar call Tel +34 630119112 or email:

The website is informative and highlights the passion of the Raventós family who have produced wine for around 500 years.

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