Penedès surely is most recognized as the birthplace of Cava, but this Spanish region on the Mediterranean is now the next exciting stop on a tour that's re-shaped my thinking on Spanish whites. Celler Pardas has been on a journey since 1996 to show the serious side of still wine from Penedés. Their Blau Cru, comprised of Malvasia de Sitges, captures Catalonia with a dry Riesling-like precision that absolutely floored me. At $29 per bottle, Blau Cru makes the continuing case for Spain's wine renaissance towards diamond-cut focused whites.
Malvasia grows in many regions throughout Europe, each with a slightly different genetic makeup. Wherever it may be vinified the resulting wines commonly stand out for rich, oily texture and vivid floral qualities. In the upper Penedès, the limestone, 300 meter elevation, and influences from the Bitlles River bring a more straight-line focus to Malvasia that actually conjures Germany's Mosel in its precision.
Malvasia has a textural weight that sits on another spectrum from Riesling, but at its root the Blau Cru from Celler Pardas is defined by the same elements. There's a seamless texture and crystalline quality to the yellow stone fruits that screams of mineral spring purity. It's a wine I kept coming back to again and again during a recent tasting, mesmerized each sip with this unusual juxtaposition. One between the oily, broad texture and the incisive, energetic cut that took my mind to the most pristine qualities I find in favorite dry Rieslings.
Ramon Parera (an oenologist) and Jordi Arnan (an agronomist) founded this estate in 1996, sure of themselves that there was another side of Penedès to passionately get behind. While sparkling wine of Cava may be the largest export, it's the organic farming focus of this duo that's leading the charge in the artisanal movement from this northern pocket of Catalonia. For anyone who loves the mineral-driven side to whites, but also the richer orchard fruits commonly found elsewhere, this is the wine that shows these two worlds can brilliantly collide into one.
2016 Pardas Blau Cru Penedès Malvasia de Sitges
$29 per bottle.