The grape I chose for this week, Beier, is so obscure, it’s not even listed in my thousand plus page compendium of wine grape varieties. It was another of those bottles that magically found its way into my wine bag at the recommendation of the merchants at my local wine shop. From the tiny amounts of information I could glean about this grape, it is likely only grown in one vineyard, not just in the region of Catalunya, but in the entire world. The vineyard is located about 10 miles north of Barcelona in one of the smallest and oldest denominación de origens within Spain, Allela DO. The area has a granitic soil type that increases the minerality present in the wine. These vines are also very old, around 70 years, which also increases the minerality. As the vines age, the root system burrows deeper into the soil. The complexity of the soil composition at these depths is increased over more shallow soils. These differences are often noticeable in the wines produced from older vines. Beier is a red grape whose name in Catalonian translates to mean ‘house of the honeybee’. It has previously been interspersed in vineyards to increase pollination rates throughout the vineyard.
This week I drank a 2019 Oriol Artigas Beier. The pale ruby color of this wine was reminiscent of Gamay or Pinot Noir. The nose was a blend of potpourri, cinnamon stick, wet stone, and red fruits such as fresh pomegranate and currants. On the palate, my first observation was that this dry wine was somewhat similar to Beaujolais in its light body and light acid. It differed by having a bit more tannin that presented with a light grit. The alcohol content was low to medium. Ripe red apples were apparent from my first sip through the extended finish. In addition, ripe red cherries, cherry starburst, a hint of woody grape stems and cinnamon stick, wet slate, and dried rose petals were also evident. Pairing it with a light meat, like pork or chicken, with a fruit compote and roasted veggies would make a wonderful combination. This would include a traditional thanksgiving dinner!