* Imperative form of to be present
THIS TEXT WON THE AWARD for BEST TEXT ON CATALAN WINE in THE 6th EDITION OF The BlocDOCat OF the CATALUNYA DO
Wine is made for everything. It's drunk for everything. France is the realm of fine wine, Italy brings together the largest variety of grapes in the world. In Germany you will find perfect "technically" wines and in Hungary a famous wine played by "noble rot".
-And the Catalan wine?
-Catalan wine is sweet!
The wine from this area of Western Mediterranean which we call Països Catalans is a wine that drinks from the sweet old traditions. These from Rosselló to the Marina Alta, in the Arch of a sea exposed to the sun, the marinated and the Tramuntana. Vinifications of a cultural tradition that brings us together: Banyuls Wines, Grenache Empordà, Malvasia de Sitges, Moscatells, Vim-Blanc de Tarragona, Fondillón d'alacant,… Wines of deep roots that sink into the sediment of centuries. Two thousand seven hundred years of men and women who have worked the land, collected the fruit and liquefied his sweat to transform it into elixir of gods.
The Greeks are deliant by the sweet wines, the Dyacithon (Δψαγιτθοπ), since it was the way to make some wines with much sugar lengthen its conservation. Hesiod in his work "works and Days" tells his brother Perses: "When Orion and Siri reach the center of the sky, and Aurora the pink fingers look at Artur –! Oh Persian!-cut all the berries and bring them home. Expose them to the sun for ten days and ten nights, and five leave them in the shade, more at sixth, take it out and pour it into a pitchshot, it is the gift of Dionysius that both delights…
As it is currently done with the moscatels or some grenaches, the Greeks left the grapes in the same plant due to overripening or exposing them to the sun once harvested. The natural sugars are concentrated in both cases in such a way that the yeasts cannot completely eliminate them. So the saturation of sugars avoided the chance.
To this same wine the Romans called it passum and they said it was best produced in the Narbonnensis, the province of Gaul: Provence and Roussillon today. Columella-that was from Cadiz, as the Chirigota-in his book Nothing Rustic writes a whole manual to get this treasured sweet wine: leaving the grapes dry for six days and six nights before squeethe it ¹.
So much was the folly of the Greeks for the sweet wines that even added honey during the fermentation process, as was the case of the οινομελι (Oinomeli). This practice passed to the Romans and the wine with honey, the Mulsum, became one of the most popular wines of ancient Rome.
Marcial writes in the century I D. C, that the best mulsum wine was made with falerno wine mixed with honey from Attica. Its price was high, worthy of the glass of Ganímedes.
Attica nectareum turbatis Mella Falernum. Misceri decet hoc in Ganymede merum-honeys that twisted the nectarine Falerno//Such wine must be mixed by Ganímedes-(Marcial XIII 108)
Another sweet wine, formerly widely known in our house and currently quite disused, is a boiled wine or Vim-Blanc as it is known in the Tarragona province. This method was widespread throughout our geography until the late NINETEENTH century. Today, in many wineries in the country houses of Bages, Emporda, Vallès or Penedès you can see the structures of work that held a boiler of copper, where the process of "boil" the wine was made. This consisted of heating the must to lose some water, thereby concentrating more sugars, tannins and other solid elements. The result was a "syrup" that the Arabs baptized as Arrop, which is indeed the real origin of the word. This syrup is often left to ferment very slowly and then add it to other wines and strengthen them or make wines from the Solera. Wine syrup was also used to compensate for the defects of aroma, stability and taste of poor and low quality wines. More or less as it is done today with chemists.
The Romans in the boiled wines called them Vinnun coctum. The most famous were defructum (reduced to a third of its volume) and Sapa (reduced to two thirds). These boiled wines will be added to the wines that will travel to the boundaries of the Empire – the limes-to ensure their conservation before serving them in the commanders of the Roman legions. The soldiers, as usual had not had access, they were given stung, a mixture of water and wine chopped sweetened.
In the tenth century of our era, the knowledge of the Greco-Latin alchemy that had preserved the Muslims through their treaties came to the hands of doctors and Christian scholars. Salernitana Medical School was founded in the Benedictine monastery of Montecasino. There, thanks to the conjunction of Hebrew, Muslim and classical alchemy, the creation of safe and effective stills for the distillation of alcoholic beverages is achieved. The spirit of wine was born in this way.
Through the addition of alcohol to wine or the must produces what we call a silent wine. When the wine has not yet been fermented or has just begun to do so it is added vinic alcohol, cutting the fermentation, swapping it. This way we will have a sweet and natural flavor, as it preserves the flavour, the sugars and the aromas of the grape. The misteles, much of the Empordà grenaches and the wines of Banyuls are carpeted, that is, liquor wines.
One of the most important references of distillation and this type of wine, is found in the XIII century in De Vinis: Elixir of Wine and vineyard Mirabilus Especierum et artificiatum vinum. Apocryphal treaty attributed to Arnau de Vilanova, which was, among other positions, Doctor of Peter the Great, Ambassador and councillor of the Pope, professor in Montpellier-the best faculty of the Middle Ages-and a great connoisseur of the wine and the elixirs that derive from them; Vilanova left us a lot of treatments where the wine would cure malures, such as the wine was the widespread spread throughout the medieval period.
"Good cinnamon, an ounce; White ginger, mige ounce; of "Vermeyles", from Giroffle, from the vermouth, of each two drachmas of "Espigua" a dracme. From all this, we have gunpowder that bast to XXX liures wine, and we are able to go for a while as well as a mester n ' Lage cog The powder, and also a fourth of poked honey, the dissolved sugar miya o. L. little Wine; However more is kept honey, e more of time. "
Another type of old wine is a stale wine. If you leave a wine of over-ripened grenache, for example, alone and serene for 40 days and 40 nights, just as a universal deluge and take it to a boot, chestnut if it can be, after a year, you will have a stale wine. When more time passes the wine in the boot, the more delitous will be wine. But pay attention, every year the volume of wine will diminl by evaporation, the so-called "part of the Angels". So every year it will add a so much new wine to finish filling the boot. Traditionally, the "godmother" or "boot of the Corner" is named after the boot of the stale wine. It is in this boot where the wine will take "Solera".
So the Catalan wine is sweet. And it is necessary to claim its sweetness as an important part of our winemaking heritage. Not only for the varieties that are used, but also by the way they do it, like the ancient Greeks. So it means in the tradition of making wine in our house and so it can still bring in the future as a differential trait and an added value. No in No, today there are still wineries that make this elixir as a vindication of its past.
And in this way we also have to take chest and put our sweet wine at the same height as the still wines, sparkling or distillates. Why not let them be part of our everyday and get the patina of wine to accompany chestnuts, sweet potatoes and panellets?
This is the idea behind the initiative of barman José Luís Garcia Victorino, the sommelier Victoria Ibáñez and Jordi Alcover and Silvia Naranjo. With a great dose of inspiration have wanted to wet the sweet wines with other liquids and solids in a shaker, respecting the character of the wine.
If you dare to take a bag of ice and the liqueurs that you have at home to make a combination, you can enjoy a renewed version of the Cosmopólitan: Cosmoalella, with L'alella Marfil very sweet of Bodega Alella Vinícola, apple juice, blueberry juice, Cointreau and vodka , a delight to begin a Saturday night. Or Carmen, made with the Empordà Grenache 12 years of Perelada Castle, bourbon, Amaretto and a cinnamon branch; A surprising alliance of woods and aromas.
Make us confident: clover the bottle of sweet wine that you have half forgotten at the bottom of the cupboard, take the shaker, look for the song of Alaska y los Pegamoides and dissolve the femur….
Be sweet, my friend…
¹ Magón prescribes that the excellent wine of raisins is made in the following way that is as I have done also myself. It must take the early ripe grape, reject the grains dry or defective, nail in the soil, at a distance of four feet, some forks or stakes that bind to each other through rods, because they hold canes that will be placed on them. On top of them the grapes will be spread in the sun, and at night they will be covered so that they do not fall down the sprout. Once they have dried, they will be destemming and the grains in a tub will be thrown, and the exquisite must is thrown away, so that they are entirely covered. At six days, as soon as it is drunk until inflated, they will be put into a small così and will be crushed in the press, and the wine they have given will be collected. Then, the breeze is crushed, after having released very recent must of other grapes that you have sunny for three days, and the breeze will be ruled with the must, and finally it will be under the press and be thrown instantly this second wine in the VATS , which will be taparan to make it rough. Then, after twenty or thirty days, so have stopped boiling, will pass other other jars and immediately ensure the lids with plaster, and put them on a piece of leather ". (XII, 39, 1; Trad. O.S. Castro)