Trepat is an indigenous grape to the Catalonia region of Spain that has been mainly used in cava wine production. In total there are about 3,700 acres planted with the overwhelming majority residing in Conca de Barberá, which borders the Costers del Segre. The grape makes light-bodied, light-colored wines, a good part of the reason why it has been favored in cava and rosé production.
Celler Carles Andreu, a relatively large producer, was the first to attempt making red wine from the grape, just 10 years ago. With zesty acidity, trepat creates reds with spice, floral overtones, red fruits and sprightly mineral tones. Of course, as is the case with any grape, if the winemaker over-manipulates it, the end result can be a complete bastardization of the grape and terroir’s inherent character.
Lucky for Bay Area residents, there are a couple of producers imported locally, Succes Vinicola and Mas Foraster, who have done an excellent job preserving the integrity of their respective wines. Both practice organic viticulture, ferment with native yeast and keep sulfur dioxide additions to a minimum to protect the inherent character of the grape and allow the terroir to shine through. At the moment, these three wines can be found in the area and are well worth the time it will take you to park, ride or do whatever it takes to track down and purchase a bottle:
Succes Vinicola “La Cuca de Llum,” 2013 (Conca de Barberá, Spain): Mariona Vendrell and Albert Canela met at Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona, Spain where both were studying enology. Cuca de Llum comes from 35-year-old organically farmed vines. Fermented in stainless steel tanks, this is vibrant, tart and delightful with freshly cut violets, white pepper and perfectly ripe cherries. Suggested retail: $17
Josep Foraster Trepat, 2012 (Conca de Barberá): Mas Foraster began making its own wine in 1998, but the family has been growing grapes in the Conca de Barberá since the mid 19th century. Made from 50-plus-year-old vines, this trepat is fermented in stainless steel and aged in French oak barrels for five months. With plum and raspberry tea notes, a touch of spice and juicy red fruit on the palate, it is affable and refreshing. Suggested retail: $26
Succes Vinicola “El Mentider,” 2012 (Conca de Barberá,): In Catalan, “mentider” means liar, so it is only fitting that the man pictured on the label would have a long, Pinocchio-like nose. The intention is to dispel the myth that trepat is not capable of making highly aromatic wines that can stand on their own, and the proof is in the bottle. Composed of trepat from 80- to 114-year-old vines, it is fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in barrel for nine months. Intense but not heavy, with black pepper, blue and red fruits, and a firm mineral undercurrent, this is a playful yet multi-dimensional wine that shows trepat can also create complex wines. Suggested retail: $27
Some of these wines can be found through: Bi-Rite, Haight Street Market, Ruby Wines, and Winelandia.
Pamela S. Busch has been working in the wine industry since 1990 as a writer, educator and consultant and co-founded Hayes & Vine Wine Bar and Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen. In 2013, she launched TheVinguard.com, a blog covering a variety of wine-related topics.