In the year 1647, on top of a hill that slopes down to the Mediterranean, in what is now the province of Cataluna (Catalonia) in Spain, someone constructed a farmhouse in the likeness of a mediaeval fortress. Two hundred years later, this imposing property became a winery, Las Cavas Jaume Serra.
Surrounding the cavas (caves = cellars) is the “El Padruell” estate, about 300 acres of prime vineyards. This estate is located in one of Spain’s most important wine producing regions, Penedés. The vineyards lie perched above Villanova i la Geltrú, the capital city of one of Penedés’ three administrative subdivisions.
Anyone who visits the Olympics this summer will no doubt run into many wines from Penedés. It lies only about 30 miles southeast from Barcelona.
Notice that this wine’s back label reads: “The 1988 vintage was awarded a classification of VERY GOOD”. Spain has had its own version of France’s Appellation Controleé (laws governing minimum standards of quality for wines) since 1933. In 1970 a new, comprehensive set of statutes controlling quality, origin and aging requirements was passed in Spain. The Instituto Nacional de Denominaciones de Origen was formed to administer the laws of each region. Each Denominacion de Origen (DO) has its own Regulatory Council. It was the DO of Penedés that determined the aforementioned classification. That year they gave their local grapes “thumbs up”.
Regarding this month’s grapes; some historians are of the opinion that French pilgrims originally brought Tempranillo vines to Spain from monasteries in northern France. Other experts say the grape is probably northern Spanish in origin. Be that as it may, Tempranillo is the fourth-most-planted red-grape variety in Spain. Its character has often been compared to Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc, giving lighter-bodied, early-maturing, pleasant, dry reds.
This example has a clear, light raspberry-reddish color which portends a delightful, intense, raspberry/strawberry nose. This is a lighter-bodied red with nice fruit flavors to match the nose, balanced by good acidity. Refined, yet lively. A prolonged aftertaste features a proper measure of drying tannins.
Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled with grilled tuna, roasted chicken, or afternoon fruit and cheese platters.
Cellaring Notes: At its peak now. Drink through next year.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper