Celler Cal Pla is based in the village of Porrera in the heart of the Priorat wine-growing region which itself is located in the south-west of Catalonia. Priorat is a designated as a Denomenacion de Origen Calificada (DOC), the highest category in Spanish wine law, and is one of only two regions granted this status, the other being Rioja. In Catalan it is known as Denominacio d’Origen Qualificada or DOQ, it is this that you will see on Priorat wine labels. Likewise Priorat is the Catalan spelling and Priorato is the Spanish spelling.
After previous generations of the Sangenis family had sold their grapes to the local cooperative, owner / oenologist Joan Sangenis decided, in 1995, to create Celler Cal Pla to vinify wines for himself. Joan Sangenis now owns some 80 hectares of south-facing vineyards, at altitudes of 300 to 400m, with an average age of 50 years or more which includes some small parcels of Carignan and Grenache which are over 100 years old. The oldest vineyards are located on very steep slopes which are known locally as “Costers.” There youngest vines around 15 to 20 years old.
The soils are typical of Priorat – the topsoil is composed of slate and quartz and often appears to be very dark grey or black in colour. The subsoil is a reddish slate and quartz with very high mineral content – this is known as “Llicorella”. The combination of low-yielding old vines, a modern stainless steel winery and healthy maintenance of vineyards (no pesticides or chemicals) allows Joan Sangenis to produce some of the very best Priorat wines. Sangenis believes that a lot of the preparation for making quality wines is time spent in the vineyard and reckons he spends “10 months in the vineyards and 2 months in the winery”.
Celler Cal Pla Mas D’en Compte Branco is one of only three white wines produced in the Priorat wine-growing region – the other tow are RAR blanc (Vins Singulars Scala Dei) and Lo Coster Blanc (Sangenís i Vaqué). Indeed, white wine production consist of only about 2% of total wine production in the region.
Celler Cal Pla Mas D’en Compte Branco is a blend of 60% Garnacha Blanca with 20% Picapoll, 10% Pansá and 10% Macabeo. Each grape variety is vinified separately. The wine is barrel-fermented in large 3000 litre oak barrels for 15 days on the skins and then each variety is aged on its lees in 80% new French Allier oak and 20% American oak barrels for 6 months. The wine is then blended prior to bottling and release.
Celler Cal Pla Mas D’en Compte Branco is a very big and full white wine. It has a bright golden colour. The nose is very complex with aromas of apple, pineapple, apricot, floral notes combined with toasty, smoky oak notes from the new oak barrels. The palate is full, rich and textured with buttery, creamy notes, spice, peach, more tropical fruit and mineral toastiness. It is very well balanced with good acidity and a lingering finish. Think Spanish Burgundy!
The Mas D’en Compte Branco has been voted best white wine in Spain by the Spanish national newspaper El Pais as well as winning many other accolades.
Celler Cal Pla Tinto is a blend of 50% Garnacha, 45% Carinena and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon that is aged on its lees in 15% American and 85% French oak barrels (a mixture of 1 to 3 year old barrels). The grapes are sourced from vines with an average age of 10 to 20 years. Average production of 30,000 bottles per vintage.
Celler Cal Pla Tinto is a good, clear, ruby red colour. The nose is rich and spicy with dark fruit (plum, damson, blackberry) and spicy, white pepper notes. The palate is rich and medium bodied with more dark fruit and spicy, liquorice notes, leathery tannins and a good, dry, lingering finish.