Hung Juries, New Friends, and a Rare Spanish White

Scala Dei Les Brugueres bottle
2011 Scala Dei Les Brugueres Grenache Blanc

I’ve been absent from my blog for several weeks now. It’s
been murder … and I mean that literally. After postponing my call to jury duty
earlier last year, I chose the week before Thanksgiving to report in, thinking
no judge would hold a trial during the holiday season. At worst, I’d do my one
day of waiting to be called to the bench, I wouldn’t be selected, and I’d be
done for a year. Was I ever wrong.  Since
that week and up until New Year’s Eve, I was embroiled in a sordid murder trial
that consumed all of my time and all of my thoughts. It was enough to drive me
to drink!

Speaking of which, I recently rang in a slightly belated new
year with a dear friend and a bottle of wine that I’ve been holding onto since
last summer. It turned out to be one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had of
the vino variety in quite some time.
The wine is Les
Brugueres Vi Blanc
2011, a Grenache Blanc (White Grenache) from the Scala Dei estate. This wine hails from
the Priorat region of Spain, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite wine
regions in the world. Spain continues to amaze me, producing many excellent
wines of extreme value in today’s market.
Priorat, located in the Cataluña
region of northeastern Spain, has been producing wine since the 12th
century when the Carthusian monks established a priory there – hence the name
of the area. Old wine regions like Priorat (pronounced Priorato in Spanish) typically
have low yields from the very old vines, but what is produced is often
spectacular. The area also has a unique “terroir” of black slate and quartz
soil, known as llicorella, which contributes to the distinctive quality
of the wine.
Beginning in the 1990s, a new wave of wine makers began
improving the production of the vineyards in Priorat, introducing more modern
wine production techniques, including aging in new French oak barrels. Wine
production increased substantially since the 1990s, however only about 4% of it
is white.
So I was extremely intrigued by the Les Brugueres White Grenache
as it is kind of rare. It has a creamy mouth feel that gives it a depth and
character beyond most whites, thanks to the French oak. But it also has a
lightness and fruitiness that makes it a great as an aperitif or with food. I enjoyed
this as the former, savoring every drop while watching a movie. It was divine.
At about $29 a bottle (available at,
it’s not an everyday wine, but it’s worth buying for a special occasion.
I found a less expensive California Grenache Blanc blend
that offered similar qualities at the Los Angeles Wine Co. ( The Tensley (
2012 Blanc, $22, is a mix of 65% Grenache Blanc and 35% Roussanne. While not
quite as elegant as the Les Brugueres, it offered a similar luxurious mouth
feel, some nice minerality, and fresh notes of green
apple and tropical fruits. It paired beautifully with a roast pork loin.
Grenache Blanc is more popular in France than in Spain,
particularly the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south, where it is often
blended with other whites. It is also a component in the white wine of the most
important estate of the southern Rhone region of France, Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Other tasty California Grenache Blancs I’ve tried this past
year include Tercero Wines (, $25 (the grapes
are sourced from the same vineyard as Tensley) and Two Shephards Vineyards (,
I’m looking forward to many more pleasant wine surprises in
the coming year as I continue my wine studies and explorations.

And, in case you were wondering, my jury was hung … very
disappointing to me, as the vote was 11-1 (I was one of the 11). However, I made
some new friends on that jury, and this week we all gathered and shared some wine and spirits. That is a very good start
to 2014!

Until next time, Cheers
and Happy New Year