The Phoenix Wines of Aibar
by Michael Douglas Bosc
These are some of the vineyards that nestle in the valley behind Darmos next to Celler Aibar 1895. As it’s name suggests, this family run winery has been producing wines since 1895, when like a phoenix, it raised itself out of the ashes of the wine industry following the devastating phylloxera epidemic which destroyed the vineyards. Gradually the grandparents of Jaume Pinyol began to restore the vines and passed down their knowledge using the technology of the day to produce some very good wines.
It was a cold wintery day with a watery sun shining. But the warm welcome we received from Jaume was worth the visit. Jaume was very pleased to tell me something of his family history and how his wines are made.
His grandparents worked very hard to rebuild the winery after the phylloxera epidemic, and were keen to use the modern equipment that came along. Unlike many of the Cellers we have visited there are no concrete vats here any more. They were replaced with stainless steel ones last century and Jaume has installed small modern vats which have airlocks in their lids, plus some larger ones with jackets that keep the temperature constant. Those of you who are home wine makers will recognise the method with the airlock.
From here the wine is placed in French Oak barrels and left to mature, where it stays for between 3 to 9 months or 3 years depending on the wine in question. The barrels on the bottom row have the 3 year wines. Today the Celler produces around 40,000 bottles of seven different wines, mostly young fruity reds plus some full bodied reds and their white wine is excellent.
So about these wines, I tasted 3 of the 7 so will start with:-
White being my wife's favourite wine I will let her describe it. This is a clean young white wine with a crystal clear moderately pale colour. Its aroma is very floral; I could sense roses, fruits and just a hint of violets. In the mouth it is very soft and fresh, but there is a good body to it which lets the taste linger long after you have tried it. This is a wine
well worth drinking if only for the sheer pleasure, and like the others it is designed to be consumed young. The Grapes used in this blending are Muscatel Alexandria and Macabeu in a 60%, 40% blend, and spends 3 months in the barrel.
This is a red wine also designed to be consumed young. It has a fruitiness but also a slight complexity. There is an intense red colour which is both clear and vibrant almost bordering on the purple. In its aroma you can detect the barrels where it has matured. This makes for a very rounded wine. The grapes used are Garnatxa Negra, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in a 40%, 20%, 20%, 20% blend, and spends 9 months in the barrel.
Now this wine is for savouring. It is full-bodied with a moderately intense cherry red hue which is both brilliant and deep. It reminded me of wild fruit whilst lurking in the background was a hint of cinnamon; it is warm, cozy and one of the nicest reds I have tried. It’s taste is soft, warm and a little complex, with a lasting after taste that makes it very moorish. The grapes used are Garnatxa Negra, Syrah and Merlot in a 60%, 20%, 20% blend. This wine can spend between 3 months to 3 years in the barrel.
I have covered the three wines that most impressed me but there are a lot more to this range that are worth drinking. However, this is not the only thing this Celler produces. There is some excellent Olive Oil produced here and the original building, which was in decline, has been lovingly rebuilt with the equipment on display plus a diagram of the working machinery. However that is for the next story of this Celler.
I would like to thank Jaume for his time and allowing us to look around his Celler. He is very proud of what he produces and rightly so, exporting his wines to the Nederlands, Estonia, Switzerland, Sweden and Girona. I am surprised that America has not taken these wines-they don’t know what they are missing. I do hope you will try them. You can contact Jaume on:- firstname.lastname@example.org .
(c) Michael Douglas Bosc