Tuesday, February 18, 2014

that little thing that says Catalunya

2011 Orto Vins Blanc d'Or Flor | DO Montsant

Battle lines, once drawn, are hard to withdraw. Once you've made up a first impression, an idea about something, about someone, it's hard to shake. Generalizations are terrible, but you get the idea. Yesterday marked exactly 6 months that I've lived here in Barcelona. Catalunya is at once a beautiful, imaginative place, but at times, I can't help but feel its narrow-minded tendencies. And let's not even begin talking about politics. Even after 300 years, it feels like its fragile marriage with Madrid has yet to be consummated. 

The wines feel the same way.

I didn't know a thing about Catalan wines before coming here. Maybe I had the odd Priorat, but if I can't remember exactly when, it's probably because I was either too drunk to care or the wine was too shit to be remembered. No matter. I've had the misfortune of trying more than a few bottles of Catalunya DO wine here, and they're the rare example of an actually undrinkable wine. But we keep our heads up and blindly plunge on, among the filth and waste, hoping for better times ahead.

Montsant is a good place to start. This whole Catalan identity thing is pretty fascinating. Catalans are Spanish, right? Let's get that clear. But I imagine that if they had the choice, they'd prefer a little more distance between them. The wines feel like that. The better Catalan wines - this one - just seem to try to be something else, something different from the Spanish, if only for the sake of being different. Maybe that's not a bad thing, but is it its true identity? I don't know. The wines are good though. This one, a 100% garnacha blanca, is textural, it's vibrant, it's pretty damn exciting. It's aged on its lees for 7 months in stainless steel, giving it a certain amount of structure, of creaminess. But is it French or Spanish? Or something else entirely?

We talk about identity in wine just as we discuss identity in people. Is who we are determined by our upbringing, or is it something more innate? Genetics? Can we consciously create who we are? Questions that are not for a sober mind.


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