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Cellers Sant Rafel Joana 2016
Blend: 83% Red Grenache, 17% Merlot
First of all, this is because the vineyards are found a few miles from the Mediterranean sea as the crow flies. It is the Catalan Coastal Mountain Range which separates them from it. The cooling influence of the sea comes every evening in the shape of the Garbinada which caresses the vines. This south-easterly wind comes packed with moisture and helps to balance out the water stress of our vines. This is much appreciated when rainfall is scarce. During the summer, however extreme the summer is, this "Garbinada" sea breeze cools the air at Mas d'en Rafel and allows the grapes to ripen slowly.
Secondly, their vineyards are a true display of all kinds of ancient dry stone walls or "marges" which in the past were used to mark out and hold up their manmade terraces on the mountain slopes, from the tree line, down to the ravine. For Sant Rafel, dry stone walls (a traditional technique which enabled the construction of handmade terraces and small buildings using only local stone without any kind of mortar) is an extremely valuable agricultural and historical resource, which little by little they have been restoring in their vineyards. They are a living example of how the natural landscape of this area has always been closely linked with human activity.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.