A Town in an Organic Bottle

Celler Batea
Sense 2019
100% Garnatxa Negre
Batea, Terra Alta, Spain
Organic, vegan, unfined, unfiltered, and native yeasts
Winemaker: Judith Folch

A glass of deep cheerful ruby. First sniff and there’s cherries and plums. Next is cinnamon/cloves and as it warms some honeysuckles, magnolias but delicately hiding in the background, and vanilla. It’s dreamy! Oh here’s juicy cherries, plums, raspberries and blueberries just dancing on my tongue along with a hint of super dark chocolate. There’s also a bit of anise. Wrap me in velvet. As much as I’d like to say a Snuggie, this is more refined and deserves a royal robe, some slippers, and a roaring fireplace.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Doesn’t change except makes all deeper

I got quite a surprise when I started looking into Celler Batea. It wasn’t a family run winery, but a co-op and a town that has a long history. This tale goes back as far as the Phoenicians and their trade route, but truly was sparked later in the 1950s. Wine was becoming more and more important financially, so winemakers/farmers bonded together…101 of them! I can only imagine how at first it must of been like herding cats. Eventually they got Celler Batea, up and running while still tending their own vines, and by 1961 were rewarded with their first vintage. Now there are 208 in the bunch and 250 hectares, and all of them take great care to keep it organic. That must be such hard work but shows such a pride and love of Terra Alta and its produce. Celler Batea has continued to listen to voices of change and in 2019 had their first wines with no added sulfites, in their Sense Blanca and Garnatxa Negre. And as I can attest, the Negre rocked my world, but you don’t have to take my word, they ended up with two gold medals: Gilbert & Gaillard, 2019 and Catalan Wine and Cava Contest, Girovi 2020, and I won’t be surprised if there are more to come.

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Getting the Mix Right

Celler Frisach
L’Abrunet de Frisach Negre 2019
Garnatxa Negra 60%, Carinyena 40%
Terra Alta D.O.
Corbera d’Ebre, Catalonia, Spain
Organic and Biodynamic
Winemaker brothers: Francesc and Joan Ferre

Light cherry garnet color. After uncorking there’s cherries, plums, tiny flowers, and some dark natural earthy funk but not as much in previous ones I have had. There’s also almond and something toasty like biscotti. As for taste, there’s light cherry dancing with a little sprig of hay. Raspberry comes next, a pinch of pine, smooth cherry jolly rancher, and juicy plums with a mix of dried ones too. Moving on to the tingle on the tongue, almond, white pepper, and at the end there’s chocolate but so lovely and light. Quite a mouthful, but it all works together so well.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Tart!

This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered L’Abrunet de Frisach Negre, but it was quite a while ago with a different label and a much stronger natural funk that hung around. I was so happy when I opened the  2019, and it is a bottle of perfection. They got the mix just right. This is one of those wines where you’re kicking yourself for not having a second bottle. Not going to lie, I did not share this with anyone because no way this one is all mine.

Francesc and Joan transformed their 200 year old family farm/vineyard into Celler Frisach back in 2009, but evidently their family had been doing it in an organic manner all those past years. Coming from this farm experience they want their vineyards to stick to the same historic integrity and also look to the future of experimenting with the grape and furthering the eco-friendly and certified organic aspects of their farming. Their L’Abrunet de Frisach Negre, the Garnatxa Negra and the Carinyena grapes are now grown in the blended farming way of the past. They grow together yet in two different plots within their land, to get the best result for the grapes and then harmonize in this bottle. As many of the wine families I’ve written about, Francesc and Joan have that same dedication and respect to their heritage, land, vineyards and Terra Alta. As they say on their site, “We are roots, we are Corbera, we are wine”.

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