Unsurprisingly, we had plenty of difficulty choosing winners for this tasting, with all of the wines showing uncommon power, sense of place, and overall harmony. We had almost nothing but praise for this group of wines, and couldn't imagine any of them being an unwelcome addition to a dinner party.
But rate them we did, with a tie at the top, and the others all getting some points. Hartwell's comment of "I feel like I'm not worthy of these wines", and Joyce's summary of "they are all winners" were excellent testaments to their quality.
Though our regular tasters Ali and Andy were not present, Hartwell, Josephine, and Joyce were outstanding at the tasting table, supplying their keen senses and offering their unique insights.
First Place (tie): Celler Cal Pla Black Slate Porrera Vi de la Vila 2008 (Priorat). Made from 60% Garnacha and 40% Carinena. Exhibited a sweeter nose, with caramel, cream, blueberries, metal, some sort of lubricant, licorice, squid ink, sea air, black ink, browned butter, and cream soda. Hartwell found "buttered popcorn jelly bellies". Josephine liked it right out of the gate, commenting that she "had an immediate crush". Tasted like black tea, saltly sea air, cinnamon, strawberries, and cherries. Hartwell noted "dusty basement", while Kristin found "egg yolk". David enjoyed the finish, describing "a bowl of crushed berries". Silky in texture. Josephine remarked that "I just like the feeling of it in my mouth" and "I like it for all the wrong reasons". Hartwell and Joyce voted for this as their favorite wine. Received 19 points. Joyce's bottle. About $23.
First Place (tie): Clos Martinet Martinet Bru 2005 (Priorat). Dark and powerful, with a complex nose of dusty road, ink, basement, licorice, black cherry, gardenia, black pepper, dried herbs, raisins, bubble gum, and green pepper. Turns slightly fecal later, with Josephine finding "soiled baby diaper" and "beach pebbles". Hartwell noted "skunk, in a good way". Tasters described cinnamon, cloves, incense, dried fruit (apricots, prune), and rare red meat on the palate. Josephine felt it was "so satisfying", and David concurred, saying it "has everything in the right place". David and Josephine's favorite of the night. Received 19 points. Kristin's bottle. About $35.
Second Place: Clos Fonta 2005 (Priorat). An opaque blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carinena. Tasters found scents of cottage cheese, acetone, book dust, salt, and hard cheese. Josephine detected "socks in the laundry", Jo"fake candy sweet", or "autumn foot", while Hartwell found "dryer sheet". Kristin was reminded of "playdough". Had a mouthcoating silkiness to it with elegance and restraint. Joyce described "blueberry pie fruit", and others noted dairy and basement dust. Josephine felt that it was "elusive". Kristin's favorite. Received 12 points. Hartwells' bottle. About $63.
Third Place: Familia Nin-Ortiz Planetes de Nin Les Planetes Vi de la Vila Porrera 2008 (Priorat). Composed of 70% Garnacha and 30% Carignan, this offered a complex perfume of grapefruit, fresh tarragon, dust, squid ink, ripe cherries, baby powder, oak moss, smoke, and vanilla extract. Josephine fount "orris root". Brighter than the others, with flavors of cedar, bubble gum, freesia, and green pepper. Hartwell felt that "if this wine were a singer, it would be an alto", and liked the finish that "seems to exist longer". David said that it was "very medicinal", but Kristin found "shortbread on the finish". Received 11 points. Josephine's bottle. About $47.
Mas Doix Salanques 2007 (Priorat). Anise and newer dust on the nose, along with something medicinal and something green (vegetables/moss). Kristin thought that is was "a little more contemplative", with Josephine finding "old fashioned lipstick". Evolved to show pine resin, brown sugar, pink peppercorn, and bell pepper scents. Unfiltered, with a smooth, creamy texture. Black cherries, candied pineapple, cantaloupe, citron, metal, cough syrup, and licorice flavors. Josephine noted that it was "warm in my mouth", and David felt that it "has a masculine intensity". Received 4 points. David's bottle. About $30.
Segura Viudas Aria Estate Cava Brut Non-Vintage. Hartwell noted that it was "particularly bubbly", with a lively, bright character. White grapefruit, flowers, and minerals on the nose, but lacked complexity in the mouth. Hartwell's observation that it was "more about the texture than the flavor" was spot on. Not a winter bubbly, this would be better in the height of the summer. About $15.