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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
7 Aug 2015

From €10.50, CA$20.89, 17.50 Swiss francs, 2,246 yen, $18.99, £14.95 

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We know that Montsant produces great-value alternatives to Priorat, the often-overpriced appellation next door – see Ferran's Montsant – half-price Priorat? And this seems to be as true of the full-bodied dry whites grown in these hills above Tarragona as of the characterful reds. 

Acústic (good name in many a language and for online searches) is the creation of Albert Jané Ubeda. They produce very small quantities of wine from vines up to 70 years old planted in the harsh climate and unyielding sand and stony soils of these hills. (Members can get some idea of the terrain from our map of Priorat, which shows Acústic's location towards the bottom. They also own a bodega in Priorat, Ritme, but soils and prices are very different.)

I met Albert courtesy of UK importers Lea & Sandeman and was impressed by his sincerity. I would hope that, although these are his words, he would not use the term 'mission statement' to describe them: 'my philosophy is to create wines that express and revindicate the quality and singularity of the traditional viticulture against the globalisation of the international varieties and modern winemaking style'. His traditional vinification equipment includes a small wooden press and he bottles without fining or filtration. He is seen below balancing a bottle on a vine.

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I very much liked his glorious old-vine red Garnacha Acústic, Auditori Vinyes Velles Màgiques de Garnatxa 2009 Montsant and thought it benefited from being free of any Carignan element in the blend. It would compare well with many a fine 2009 Châteauneuf – but it is £40.95 per single bottle from Lea & Sandeman.

The bargain among the four Acústic wines I tasted recently was Acústic Blanc 2012 Montsant, from what tastes like a particularly successful vintage for this unusual and exciting white. It's a blend of 60% Garnacha Blanca, 25% Macabeu, 10% Garnacha Gris and 5% Pansal, the local name for Xarello. The vines are 30 to 70 years old at a range of different elevations and expositions. A quarter of the wine was barrel fermented, all of it was aged on lees.

As outlined recently in Lledoner Roig – a Costa Brava speciality, I seem to be tasting more and more exciting examples of white wines with Grenache Gris/Garnatxa Gris/Lledoner Roig in them. Some whites made in this part of the world can be just too heavy but this full-bodied (14%) yet extremely vigorous dry white has amazing lift and perfume of the sort I associate with particularly fine Grenache Gris. It reminded me of fermented lemon cough sweets – without the sugar. I appreciated the lightly bitter note on the finish – not unpleasant bitterness but the sort of kick you'd find in a Campari or a fine tonic water such as Fever Tree. The wine tastes as though it should have quite a long life and Albert assured me that the 2008 is still drinking very well.

According to Wine-searcher, this wine - £14.95 per single bottle and £13.50 as part of a mixed case from Lea & Sandeman and about the same price from the Oxford Wine Company - is available not only in Spain, the US and the UK but also Germany, Canada, Japan, Switzerland and Ireland.

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