Catalunya DO, Spain
55% Marselan, 35% Garnatxa (Grenache), 8% Samsó (Carignan), 2% Syrah; 13.5%
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 6 Oct
This unusual-looking Spanish wine seemed right up my alley. It looks like someone’s small project somewhere, not made in the ripe, jammy, “international style,” mostly from a grape I had never heard of. It was indeed an interesting wine, and good for the price, even if I wasn’t totally wild about it.
First, the story of the Marselan grape is amusing (via the Wikipedia link above). A cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, it was first bred in 1961 in a project to increase grape yields. However, Marselan could only produce small berries, so it was neglected until more recently when others realized its fruit’s larger skin-to-volume ratio might give it good winemaking potential.
On the first night, I drank the first half over about three hours. In that time, it showed earthy, tangy red cherry with complexities of darker red / black cherry / sometimes plum, with some sappy wood in the finish. It seemed to promise a nice wine once it aired, but it was always rather acid, even with food.
The second half, stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air, was much less acid, more forward and fruity, with a rather candied nature. I oscillated between thinking its candied character was a bit surprising in a Spanish wine and perhaps a bit much for my taste, thinking it was tasty but still hadn’t really come together and perhaps needed more age, and thinking it was pretty good with food. So, overall, an interesting wine I’m glad I tried, but not one I’ll likely get more of. Still, if I see another Marselan, I’d like to try it.
I just noticed EHL mentioned this wine in What’s New. We’re clearly drinking the same wine, but he liked it better:
Upon opening, the wine had a nice fragrant nose of vanilla, spice and dark fruit, and it had a bright, lively character I enjoyed. With a ruby-colored, medium-body, the wine was dry yet smooth and exhibited a velvety tannic finish. On the second day, the vanilla nose dissipated somewhat, with more fruit aroma, and the wine darkened, showing more complexity.
All in all…… a pretty nice, balanced bottle of Red wine from Spain…….for $3.99! Gotta get more.
And he provided a link to a page that had these notes, which I think are pretty accurate, although rather exaggerated: “Cherry brick red with a pale brick rim. Aromas of lingonberry, wild raspberries, maraschino cherries, black plums and leather. Soft tannins with flavors of wild forest berries, Italian cherries, black licorice and vanilla. Notes of black pepper and thyme. Robust and balanced with a long, complex finish. Generous.” -BTI, Oct. 2013