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NEW TO ATLAS : 2017 Subtil, Serral del Roure, Recaredo - simply world-class

March 2022

2017 Subtil, Serral del Roure, Recaredo

Simply world-class

£155 per 6 bottle case in bond

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Having just returned from a brief tasting trip to Spain, I am now able to offer a new wine from a relatively new producer to Atlas. We have offered Recaredo’s impressive Reserve Particular a couple of times before and received some great feedback. Here, I am pleased to offer their outstanding 2017 Subtil at £155 per 6 bottle case in bond.
 
Where is it from you may ask? Well, it is from Corpinnat, which was previously a small zone within Cava, but as the production area for Cava is so vast and the name has become debased, a group of nine producers (of which Recaredo is one) left the Cava DO in 2019 and will now produce their wines with Corpinnat shown on the label. These nine producers want to focus on higher quality production, terroir-driven wines and indigenous varieties and thereby limiting use of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. When given an ultimatum by the authorities to stop promoting themselves as a subset, they broke away from the DO and continued to promote Corpinnat and were recognised legally by the EU. In time, it is likely that they will be brought back into the fold with a separate appellation. Leaving wranglings about designations and appellations aside, it is easy to understand why Recaredo took this step given the quality of the wines they produce is a world away from what you are likely to associate with Cava, and I mean a world away. As previously commented, if the following background does not add up to a quality-conscious producer, I am not sure what does.
 
Recaredo has been crafting wines at Sant Sadurní d’Anoia in Alt Penedès, some 50km due west of Barcelona, for near on a century, in fact ever since Josep Mata Capellades started winemaking in 1924. Today, his legacy is the Recaredo estate, named after his father, and today comprises a patchwork of some 65 hectares of hillside vineyards along the river Bitlles. This spectacular landscape, dominated by the Montserrat mountain, gives rise to naturally low-yielding, calcareous soils, well-suited to fruit for sparkling wine production. Recaredo is run biodynamically with production kept remarkably traditional, artisanal, and unhurried, so no pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilisers are used here; everything is natural, everything is done by hand. They were the first estate in Penedès to be certified biodynamic back in 2010, so while tradition is the watchword here, it is not without progression.
 
The reputation of this estate is inextricably linked to patience – each of their wines spends a minimum of two and half years ageing on its lees in bottle in their cellars, far and above the minimum stipulation for Cava or Champagne for that matter. Some of their wines spend a whopping 30 years in their cellars. Interestingly, this focus on extended ageing echoes the approach championed most successfully by the winemaker who I consider one of the most talented in Champagne, namely Francis Egly of Egly-Ouriet. That is not to hint at any imitation; Recaredo developed their style of long-aged wines as early as 1944, but belief in the benefit of ageing on the lees for extended periods is common to both producers.
 
Recaredo produce a varied and fascinating range of wines, but the grape variety that dominates in those that have grabbed my attention most is Xarel-lo (pronounced charel-low) which accounts for over half of their vineyard plantings. I have been fascinated by this variety for some time as it seems to perform a similar role to Pinot Noir in Champagne. This indigenous Mediterranean variety brings good acidity and structure to the blend and, in my experience, a mineral-infused orchard fruit with slightly smoky notes. Often it is blended with Macabeu, which can offer a more floral-natured fruit, with slightly more honeyed, juicy stone fruit characters, but that said, my preference is for those wines dominated by Xarel-lo or entirely devoted to the variety, such as the 2017 Subtil offered here, which comes from a single vineyard called Serral del Roure.
 
Please see my full note below.

2017 Subtil, Serral del Roure, Recaredo
£155 per 6 bottle case in bond

 
You may have guessed from the name, but subtlety in terms of refinement and elegance is the aim here. Subtil is 100% Xarel-lo and is made in limited quantities (just 5,102 bottles). It is aged for a minimum of 3 years on its lees in bottle and is a Brut Nature, meaning no dosage.


2017 was a dry, low-yielding vintage that has resulted in fine concentration. The aromas capture notes of orchard fruit, slightly oxidative in style, reminiscent of bruised apple and pear with hints of freshly baked patisserie. Fresh and pure, the palate is extremely elegant, nothing heady, but shows fine intensity. Those orchard fruit notes are echoed from the nose, but it is the mineral drive and focus that really lift this Xarel-lo on the palate; it has a certain steely, smoky, mineral acidity that is incredibly well-integrated yet provides length, power and leads to a mouthwatering finish. Complex and intense, there is nonetheless a lightness of touch that renders this Corpinnat hugely rewarding. It is hard to believe that this is just one up from their entry level wine. Without doubt, Recaredo and Xarel-lo combine to impressive effect. Outstanding. (SL) Drink 2022-2028. 


And just to stress one final thing, this estate and this wine are so far removed from anything you might associate with Cava – their move to establish the identity of Corpinnat is essential as these are undoubtedly world-class wines.

I am certain that the wines of Recaredo are worthy of far greater attention. Luis Gutiérrez at robertparker.com is regularly writing outstanding endorsements and awarding serious scores to their wines. He is yet to taste the latest releases, however, when he does I don’t think he’ll be disappointed as there is such complexity and finesse on show across their portfolio.

Please let us know of your interest.
 
All the best,
 
Simon

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