WOTY 2019: Llopart Original 1887
Being January 1st 2020, it’s time for the Wine of the Year 2019. Of course, during 2019 there were some outstanding candidates. Each one brought great pleasure and taught something new. But the moment I tasted this Espumosos (sparkling wine) at Llopart in Catalonia, I was convinced it would be WOTY 2019.
However, a visit to Llopart with its warmth of hospitality and sunshine adds excitement. Also, it was with family members Jesi Llopart and Pere Llopart I Vilarós – that’s him in the picture above. Consequently, I needed to ensure that my enthusiasm wasn’t running amok.
So, back in the wind and wuthering of an English winter, another bottle of this wine not only confirmed my previous impressions but lifted my spirits too.
The recent feature about the organic Llopart winery is here. Llopart has rightly received plenty of praise and awards for their wines. The Wine Alchemy WOTY 2019 award isn’t up there with those. However, perhaps it’s the most heartfelt. If your experience of Cava has been disappointing, this stellar wine brings a welcome correction.
Original 1887 Brut Nature Gran Reserva, 11.5%
Original 1887 was first made to celebrate Llopart’s 125th Anniversary of sparkling winegrowing. It’s perhaps the greatest expression of Cava / Corpinnat I’ve encountered and certainly one of the world’s great sparkling wines. As this is Catalonia, the wine is made from a blend of three local grapes; 25% Xarel-lo, 25% Macabeo (Viura) and 50% Parellada. No Chardonnay is used in this cuvée.
In the blend, Xarel-lo brings body, structure and ageing potential. Macabeo adds nuanced aromatics and volume, while the unusually high Parellada content ensures elegance, freshness and delicacy. Llopart is particularly fortunate in having such high altitude vineyards. In particular, this enables Parellada to give of its best, and their biotype of this variety is called Montónega.
An expression of Terroir
Indeed, each of the three grape varieties was selected from single plots of old vines, ensuring only the very best grapes were chosen. The Xarel-lo is from the Pere de Can Ros planted in 1954, the Macabeo from l’Isidoro, (1955) and the Parellada from L’Alzina vineyard, (1960). These are all from an area called Les Flandes, a natural amphitheatre of north-facing vineyards. This place was once a sea inlet, so the rocks are limestone, with marine fossils and coral reefs.
This wine matured for ten years in bottle, with the lees riddled by hand. The style is Brut Nature, so there was no balancing sugar at disgorgement. Even the label replicates the design of the original. In those days, string secured the cork, but instead, there is a modern wire closure.
A deep golden colour, this is a bone dry sparkling wine with a whole raft of complex tertiary aromas and flavours. Toasted almonds and walnuts, chestnuts, a lick of honey, hints of dried orange and candied apple. Lazy beaded bubble stream with tiny bubbles. Creamy buttered toast. New impressions and nuances appear with every sip. Combines power with a filigree delicacy. A special wine to linger over and marvel at.
Being Brut Nature, this wine is versatile; drink it on its own as your mood dictates; it’s equally at home with rowdy celebration or quiet contemplation. Food-wise, try it with simple classics. A plate of Spanish charcuterie and cheeses is a feast. Another is Pa amb tomàquet, toasted bread rubbed with tomato and olive oil. Richer dishes are great too. Try Paella, or the variation from Barçelona called Fideua, which uses noodles instead of rice.
L’Heretat Can Llopart de Subirats
Carretera de Sant Sadurni an Ordal, Km.4
And if like Cava, try this one too.
And finally, a Happy New Year to you all! In Spanish, that’s Feliz Año Nuevo. In Catalan, Feliç Any Nou!