During our visit to Celler Sangenís i Vaqué in January 2015, Maria hosted solo but brought out all the stops for an exceptional tasting. Of the ten poured, four were a vertical of the Clos Monlleó from 2013, 2011, 2005 and 1999.
Monlleó is the surname of Maria’s paternal grandmother and the combination of two generations of surnames – Mon meaning the world and Lleó, lion. Both are shown on the wine’s label and they’re also pictured on the Celler’s weather vane located at the main vineyard.
The 2013 was literally taken out of the tank and a deep, tannic purple that won’t even be on the market for another 6-7 years. The 2011 was equally tannic, violet tinted infant that can be easily kept another 20 years prior to enjoying. With the 2005, we were getting closer with a deep ruby-garnet wine full of cigar, tar and leather alongside deep plums and berries. These three versions are aged 18 months in new oak prior to bottling.
It was the 1999 Monlleó that caught my attention and that I brought back to Canada. Made with the same combination of 50% Garnaxa and 50% Carinenya grapes from 80 year old vines, this version was aged 12 months in new oak (their recipe changed as of 2004). A medium plus shade of garnet with glass-staining tears, the nose and palate show deep red berry, dried apricot and prune with garrigue – turn up the tarragon. Nebbiolo-like, it shines with licorice, soy sauce, tar, black olives, a smooth salinity and crushed slate.
The relaxed and ripe tannins offer a long, well-balanced, married finish. We decanted the wine over two hours and found it delicious and still fresh at sweet 16. Not hot at all. Gorgeous. Drinking now or may be kept for an additional 5-7 years.