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Parés Baltà
by
Kathy and Terry Sullivan

Parés BaltàSummary: Enjoy a visit to Parés Baltà, in the town of Pacs del Penedès, where you will encounter a friendly staff who is knowledgeable about the wines, organic and biodynamic vineyards. One tour option is a visit to the vineyards and an old Iberian kiln.

The winery for Parés Baltà, with its organic and biodynamic vineyards, is located in Pacs del Penedès. We found our way along an extended road/driveway lined with olive trees to the winery. The area at the entrance of the winery is 120 years old. However, renovations inside make the entrance appear modern. Visitors can expect a tour of the facility and can also go on an extended tour of the vineyards.

This large winery produces both cavas and still wines. Today Joan and Josep Cusiné lead the winery with the input from their father Joan Cusiné Cusiné. Joan and Josep concentrate on marketing the wines. Their wives, M. Elena Jiménez and Marta Casas are the winemakers.

Parés BaltàAt one end of the tasting room, opposite the long tasting counter, we saw an elegant display of the various bottles of cavas and wines. On the top shelf is a private collection of porrons. These glass porrons have a central opening for adding wine. On one end is a long spout. These were often used in vineyards for the hot and thirsty workers. A small corner of the room displays wines and organic olive oil.

Winery Tour

Our guided tour went to the far right of the tasting room past a set of glass doors leading to the barrel room. Oak barrels, mostly French, but with some Hungarian, are used for the production of red wines. Over the oak barrels the ceiling has thick aged beams with honey color tones. Also in the barrel room, notice a brownish-red earthenware vessel. This vessel is similar to an amphora; however, it is used to ferment and age wines rather than transport them. Parés Baltà is experimenting with clay jar winemaking.

In the vineyards we saw red clay, the natural ingredients for amphora and qvevri. The winery hopes to use some red clay from their vineyards to make red clay jars and then ferment and age wine in these earthen vessels. We spoke about our experience making a qvevri wine in the country Georgia and burying a qvevri and making wine in it at home.

Parés BaltàNext, we proceeded down a set of narrow stairs to the old cellars where cavas are undergoing aging and riddling. One set of riddling racks holds old bottles thickly covered with dust. The cellar was built before the masia, or large manor house, was constructed. In the cellar a gyropalette is used for riddling most of the bottles. Although the cellars offer a unique experience for wine enthusiasts, it is a ride in an all terrain vehicle through the biodynamic vineyards that presented some stunning and historical views for us.

Vineyard Tour

Parés BaltàParés Baltà’s first vineyards were planted in 1790. The vineyards are treated with the traditional biodynamic practices including the use of organic tea sprays and following the biodynamic calendar. The winery has biodynamic certification from Demeter. The vineyards consist of 170 hectares (420 acres) and include indigenous and international grape varieties. Indigenous grapes include Macabeo, Xarel.lo, and Parellada. International grapes include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, White Garnacha, Gewürztraminer, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Pinot Noir.

The vineyards are in five separate areas and range in elevation from 170 meters to 750 meters. In addition to the vineyards located in the Penedés, there are also vineyards planted in Priorat and Ribera del Duero. On our vineyard tour, we made several stops at vineyards closeby the winery and further away in the mountainous areas. One vineyard of Chardonnay was nestled in a valley surrounded by tree covered slopes. The berries on the Chardonnay were at the buckshot stage during our early June visit. The vines were planted in very rocky soil.

Parés BaltàOur guides wanted us to see the remains of a kiln from the ancient days of Iberia. On the way to the dig, we observed a barraca or stone hut that was rather well preserved. A little further there was a small excavation. You have to use imagination and observation to see the kiln. There were some distinct areas that looked like they would hold the neck of an amphora as it was fired. We also observed holes in the ground that would allow air flow and smoke to be released from the fire below.

Parés BaltàWhile on the vineyard tour, we stopped for a view of a bucolic valley. At some point, we spotted the renowned Bonelli’s eagle. Local myths say that when anyone sees this elegant eagle, they will experience 10 years of good luck.

Cavas

The Selectio Brut was a blend of Xarel.lo, Chardonnay, Macabeo and Parellada. The cava was aged for 30 months and disgorged in May 2015. The gold colored cava had a lively bead of bubbles forming a mousse on the surface. The aroma was floral with apple and pear. The taste was predominantly apple and pear. Hints of citrus were on the finish.

The 2011 Brut Nature Reserva was a blend of Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Parellada aged for 24 months. This light yellow cava had a slow bead of bubbles. Mineral was dominant on the aroma, while the taste had green apple and mineral with an agressive mouthfeel. There was apple on the finish.

The 2010 Bianca Cusiné Brut Nature Gran Reserva was a blend of Xarel.lo, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir aged for 30 months. The yellow colored cava showcased active beads of bubbles forming a mousse on the surface. The aroma offered peach blossom and mineral, while the taste had notes of green apple, peach and mineral with a lively mouthfeel. Fruit yielding to mineral was on the finish.

Wine Tourism

Wine tourists can visit Parés Baltà any day of the week keeping in mind that the winery is closed on bank holidays. The winery offers several types of tours including tours of the vineyards called the Terroir Tours. Tours are available in several languages including: Catalan, Spanish, English and German. Book a reservation in advance of your visit.

Parés Baltà

Parés Baltà
Masia Can Balta S/N
Pacs del Penedès
(Barcelona), Spain

 

Article written June 2015


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