A blog devoted to exploring wines made from unusual grape varieties and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world. All wines are purchased by me from shops in the Boston metro area or directly from wineries that I have visited. If a reviewed bottle is a free sample, that fact is acknowledged prior to the bottle's review. I do not receive any compensation from any of the wineries, wine shops or companies that I mention on the blog.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Parellada - Catalunya, Spain

I've been sitting here trying to figure out what there is to say about the Parellada grape for several hours, and I'm just not having any luck.  It's one of those grapes where we know just a little bit about it, and that seems to have completely satisfied everybody's curiosity. I was actually really excited when I got the chance to buy a wine made from 100% Parellada grapes because I'd never seen one before (and I haven't seen once since) and I expected that there would be some kind of foothold I could get, some kind of an opening for a story once I sat down to do my research, but it looks like I was wrong.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Parellada may be the most boring grape in the world to try to research and if you've come here to read something interesting and exciting about it, I'm afraid I'm about to disappoint you.

A few weeks back I wrote about the Xarel-lo grape, which is one of the three major white grapes used in the production of Cava.  Xarel-lo is kind of the middle child of the Cava family, playing second fiddle to Macabeo but still overshadowing its partner Parellada.  To use an Alvin and the Chipmunks metaphor, it is the Theodore to Macabeo's Alvin and Parellada's Simon.  Parellada covers about half as much ground as Xarel-lo in the Penedès region of Spain (where most Cava is made) which puts its planting figures in this area at a still-respectable 25,000 acres (though it still has a long way to go to catch Airén at 750,000 acres).  While Macabeo and Xarel-lo have started to show up more and more in varietal table wines, Parellada is still used almost exclusively as a blending grape not only in the production of Cava, but also in a handful of other wines throughout Spain.  It does best in cooler regions with poor soils but has a tendency to over-crop and make bland wines in richer, more fertile areas.  The grapes themselves are large and loosely bunched in the clusters which makes it less susceptible to fungal diseases like botrytis.

And that's pretty much it.  Those are all of the interesting things I can think to say about Parellada.

The wine that I was able to try was the 2008 Torres "Mas Rabell" from the Catalunya region of Spain.  I picked it up for about $7 from my friends at Bin Ends.  In the glass the wine was a light greenish lemon color.  The nose was moderately intense with aromas of green apple, pear and lime citrus with a hint of something slightly herbal or vegetal.  On the palate the wine was light bodied with fairly high acidity, which makes sense since Parellada does have slightly higher natural acidity than the other two Cava grapes.  There were zippy flavors of lemon citrus and green apple fruit with a kind of bitter, pithy finish.  The vegetal note I picked up on the nose carried through on the palate and reminded me of braised celery or fennel bulb.  That vegetal edge kept me from really loving this wine, but I found it plenty enjoyable for the money.  It's a light, crisp, summertime kind of wine that would be excellent with something like raw oysters.  Even though the story behind the grape wasn't that fascinating at least the wine itself was good.

1 comment:

The Wine Mule said...

For what it's worth, parellada may be a blender, but its purpose is to improve the blend, thanks--as you point out--to higher acid than xarel-lo and macabeo. Parellada's biggest flaw, as far as I can tell, is that it is less interesting that chardonnay, which is why more top Cava houses are incorporating the latter into their blends. Which is sort of too bad, I'd hate to see Cava become just another Champagne knockoff.