L'Avi Arrufi Blanco
L'Avi Arrufi Blanco is an estate-bottled wine made by Celler Vinos Piñol with grapes grown in the region of Terra Alta, located south of Barcelona. It is made with 100% Garnacha Blanca, also called white Grenache. Today, Terra Alta's beautiful panoramic landscape is home to 35% of the world's Garnacha Blanca vineyards and 70-75% of those in Spain. Portal Blanco contains a small percentage of other grapes, but its essential identity is derived from Garnacha Blanca. The Piñol family has been tending these vines for four generations. Today, only 300 cases are made of one of the family's most special wines. It's made from vines that are over eighty years old. L'Avi Arrufi means, "Granfather Arrufi," the man who founded Celler Piñol in 1945. The story of Cellar Vinos Piñol mirrors the ascendance of Spanish wines in world markets over the past ten years, a story of how a reverence for old, treasured vineyards and the best family traditions have been combined with new winemaking methods to make the finest wines possible. Similar to Yecla and Vinos de Madrid, Terra Alta is one of Spain's up-and-coming wine regions with an identity built on exciting projects and progressive innovation. Juanjo G. Piñol and Toni Coca are the winemakers. Juanjo's mother Josefina remains in charge of the family cellar.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This 100% Garnacha Blanca wine is made from vines over eighty years old. Just 300 cases are made of this limited production wine. Made with estate grapes, from head pruned, dry farmed (no irrigation) vines. Garnacha Blanca is a versatile grape full of bright mineral flavors that enhance a wide spectrum of medium- to rich-flavored foods. This wine is perfect for all seasons.
RATING HISTORY: 2014 91VM; 2013 92WA & VN; 2012 92WA; 2011 92WA, 2010 92RP & IWC; 2009 91IWC; 2008 90RP
GRAPE: 100% Garnacha Blanca. Vines planted in 1920. Tended in limestone and clay soil at 475 m (1,558 ft) elevation
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: This white has aromas of wet stones and a terrific earthy minerality. The wine shows a creamy texture in the mouth, with bright acidity that underpins the wine's structure, finesse, great complexity and great length on the palate.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: Once the grapes are harvested, the best berries from the choice bunches are selected to make this unique wine. The wine is aged for seven months in French oak barrels.
PRODUCTION: 300 cases (6 pack)
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located a few miles southwest of Priorat, within the Terra Alta DO (Zone 5) in Catalunya's Tarragona province in northeastern Spain. In this remote region, the winemaking tradition dates back to the Romans, around the 2nd or 3rd Century. The winery and vineyards are in the town of Batea, situated at 356 meters (1,168 ft.) elevation. The soils are composed of 95% limestone and 5% clay. Yields are low (24.5 hectoliters per hectare, or 3,500 kilograms per hectare), which enhances the concentration and complexity in the grapes. For climate, the average temperature from April-October is 67.3F. The hot day and warm-to-moderate night temperatures make Terra Alta a drier and warmer region than Montsant or Priorat. These conditions produce bright purplish-garnet hued wines with greater weight and ripeness than wines from other areas within Zone 5. The low average yearly rainfall of 16.3 inches is less than neighboring regions.
TASTING NOTES: Vibrant, mineral-driven citrus and orchard fruit aromas are complemented by honeysuckle, ginger and a touch of quinine. On the palate, bitter pear skin and Meyer lemon flavors show very good depth and vivacity, along with a firming jolt of smoky minerality. The finish unwinds slowly, showing excellent concentration, persistence and lingering floral character. T
All photos: Friederike Paetzold