2015 Cellers Can Blau 'Mas de Can Blau'


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The Spanish wines of Catalonian Montsant suffer from an inferiority crisis thanks to their neighbors up the hill in Priorat.  Priorat occupies the high ground- both literally and figuratively- thanks to its unique high-altitude setting and preponderance of totally unique llicorella slate soils.  Over the past 25 years, they’ve traded on those distinctions and created for themselves a wonderful market for their deep, complex and age-worthy reds.  But Montsant is just right down the hill and, though its vineyards aren’t as dramatically steep and purely slate-y as its neighbors, there’s enough llicorella to go around and, unlike Priorat, a plethora of other diverse soil types mixed in to boot.  But, for lovers of deep, rich and exciting Spanish wines, Montsant’s diminished prestige is our gain.  The best Montsants, like Celler Can Blau’s Mas for example, cost only a fraction of what the cult-y wines up the hill are fetching and, when you try them, you’ll join me in hoping no one ever discovers just how good the best Montsants can be!  Celler Can Blau dates from the early 1980s and is the project of the well-known Gil family and Spanish wine impresario Jorge Ordonez.  While their inexpensive Can Blau is one of Spain’s most amazing values, the best and oldest vines- and there are a lot of very old vines here- are saved for the Mas, the winery’s most exalted achievement and one of the true benchmarks from Montsant.  Made with the same grapes as you’ll find in Priorat, Mas is a blend of old vine Carinena (35%), Syrah (35%) and Garnacha (30%).  The former grape variety, known elsewhere as Carignane, is an important part of the wine, providing a sort of base layer of smoky, aromatic complexity and a mineral component that seems vacuumed up directly from these austere soils right into the wine. Syrah adds the wine’s kick, dark color, peppery, fruity intensity and lilting florality.  It is, after all, Syrah!  Then comes the life of the party- the fresh, fruity Grenache that not only adds weight but also its own floral and mulberry-like aromatics.  Think of the Garnacha as a layer of luscious jam spread on top of a complete, complex wine!  Together it’s an incredible symphony of flavor, texture and fun!  A dep cherry red, the nose is all concentrated cherry confit and plums backed by violet pastille, pomegranate, dark chocolate, black tar, Earl Grey tea, vanilla extract and a hint of earthy bramble.  On the palate it’s full- really full- and effusive, with a finish that goes on and on despite some considerable round and juicy tannins that promise a long, long life ahead.  This is quite a wine- great fun to sip on its own but really best with richer meatier fare with enough flavor to hold its own against what’s really a zaftig, fun-to-drink wine. In Priorat, this would be $100.  So there!  Roast beef on the menu this holiday season?  Just sayin’
Vinous Media: Lurid magenta color. A hugely perfumed bouquet evokes spice-accented red/blue fruit, incense and floral pastille scents, along with hints of vanilla and woodsmoke that build in the background. Alluringly sweet and penetrating on the palate, which offers juicy boysenberry, Chambord, cola and spice cake flavors that are supported by a core of smoky minerality. Finishes extremely long, with impressive fruit intensity, a sexy floral nuance and sharp delineation. 94 points