The Penedès wine region around Barcelona in the North East of Spain is better known for Cava but it also produces some other great wines; the reds, though often overlooked in favour of Rioja and Priorat reds, can make for good value alternatives. I could not believe my luck on finding this wine from 1999 at this price and drinking beautifully now.
Can Rafols dels Caus was a country estate taken over from his grandfather by Carlos Esteva in 1979. He decided to regenerate the vineyards and produce wine from grapes exclusively from the estate, using as little intervention as possible to "create fine wines which are natural, elegant and with a marked personality". The style tends towards wines which have been aged for a long time in the bottle so that complex aromas and flavours develop.
The wine is lovely and fresh on the nose with a range of different aromas but bramble fruits dominate. As a Bordeaux blend of 40% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, this does have a ring of Right Bank Bordeaux about it but it also has a Mediterranean herbaceousness. The tannins are so soft they are hardly noticeable, just enough to give the wine some body. It really is rather elegant. I tasted this wine blind twice and on both occasions was amazed by the bramble fruit aromas and the length of the wine, two features which show that this wine will keep for a few years yet.
Recommended to drink with game, duck, goose, steak, beef casseroles and other red meats, also with turkey, chicken, tomato-based dishes, mushrooms, roast vegetables and with paella and other Spanish dishes
Subtle and serious with plenty of minerality and aromas of Mediterranean herbs. There are some lovely tertiary flavours of dried fruit and leather, in addition to very well integrated oak.