The Wine Merchant in Basel
Listening to jazz and drinking wine has been common to me. I still remember the day I listened to ‘Something Else’ as much as the day I was overwhelmed by the wines at Mas Comtal. Both dragged me in to an endless world where the more experienced you get the more eager you are to learn more and more.
I arrive at Basel euroairport on the 14th of September at 14.10 h. Friday afternoon. The weather is surprisingly good or may be only because I expect there’s always snow in Switzerland. I am happy to find my travel bag with an entire Malondro white bottle, which was not the case with the wine that travelled with DHL a week ago. The Exit of the airport has three choices: Switzerland, France or Austria. I’d rather visit Austria but I take the exit Switzerland.
I bet people here think clean garden-houses and little villas are nice to live but they seem some kind of boring to me. It takes two buses to drop me at
Spalentor. After check in, e-mail check and paying cheque there is no time left to visit the beautiful, so they say, old town near the river.
I arrive at Musik & Wein where I meet Martin Sutter and Yves Willimann, wine importers that just moved to their new address in the Eulerstrasse 73. A beautiful show room smartly connected by an elevator to the stock room where a select range of wines from all over the world are waiting to go off to delicacy restaurants in Basel.
Martin proposes to take us for a barbecue at his place to enjoy this unexpected sunshiny day where we will taste a selection of eighteen Catalan wines I send him.
The first thing I notice in his house is an old high tech vinyl player with a thick glass base and different weights to adjust the pressure of the needle on the disk. I turn myself and there is another one, even more barok in design. The host invites me to his private cellar where he shows me dusty bottles like Bourgogne, Bordeaux, Sauternes Rothshild, Lafitte, a major collection of fine wines that almost are older than me. He asks me which is the oldest wine I ever drunk? The Merlot 1994 from
Jean Leon and that’s already a few years ago. Let’s say 12 years. He asks me which wine region in France I like most. Bourgogne, definitely. So he grabs a Bourgogne ‘Clos Vougeot’ 1990 , a ‘Cordier Chateau Gruaud Larose’ 1986 and a ‘Conte di Luna’ 1989.
For after the taste …, he says.
Can Festís3Productes_all
We start off immediately with four different cavas. The Brut 1+1=3 and the Cava Can Festís Brut Nature are just the clean, pure quality of cava they are looking for, and they tasted a lot lately. Both bodega 1+1=3 and Jaume Giró I Giró are top quality bubble producers in the Penedès. Out of four whites the choice goes immediately to a macerated white wine (xarello – chardonnay) from Ramon Giró. This is a very good winemaker minds my host. From three quite exciting rosés none of them take interest. May be not the right day, or the lack of interest for rosé wines. Then seven reds. The Pardas cabernet franc 2005 from new wine maker Ramon Parera surprises for its design and elegant body. La Figuera 2004 from Costers del Segre shows nice potential. I recommend to send them a sample of the even better 2005 vintage as 2004 is sold out. The Malondro from D.O. Montsant and Maius from D.O.Q. Priorat are spotted instantly on their terroir and grenache and carignan varieties. Fruit driven wines that express their origin in style, with attractive labels and showing what Spain’s new wine making is all about.

Conte di LunaClos Vougeot
So far for the Spanish wines. Time for dinner and the oldest vintages of my life. Conte di Luna 1989, Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot, from the Italian part of Switzerland. I can’t believe what I smell: balsamic massage oil, herbs, strawberry, cinnamon, caramel, tobacco and lots of violet flowers and I could go on and on. This wine is amazing; I’m surprised and enchanted by gentle and elegant flavours. Clos Vougeot 1990 from Borgogne: aristocratic strong and harmonic, it’s getting too much for me. Chateau Gruaud Larose 1986 from Sauternes: beautiful alive colour with a young fresh aroma after all these years. I suppose that’s why France has such a big reputation. But then again ‘chapeau’ for the Conte di Luna.
Gruaud LaroseSweetWines
A taxi takes me from France back to Switzerland and drops me at Spalentor for a three hour nap until five o’ clock am. I look with wide-open eyes still sleeping how sober people behave early in the morning, ugh. I arrive wrecked at Barcelona Airport and head back for the Priorat after a cava breakfast with my dear friend Bernard in Castelldefels. Saturday 15th of September.