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Catalan grape variety Sumoll gains traction in the UK

Published:  03 October, 2017

They’re making noise in New York and now wines made from the recovered Catalan grape variety Sumoll, known as the Pinot Noir of the Mediterranean, are starting to make a splash in Britain.

Fresh, medium-bodied Sumoll single variety wines, which show energy and vitality rather than power, are among the latest artisan terroir wines of Spain gripping the attention of the UK trade, including Lea & Sandeman and Layton’s the trade arm of Jerobaums.

A tasting of Heretat Mont Rubi Sumoll wines, at Barrafina tapas bar in London yesterday, hosted by Spanish expert, Sarah Jane Evans MW, revealed the capabilities of the variety, which is now used to make outstanding sparkling, rosé and red wines.

“These wines are different, incredibly food friendly and of very high quality - they are the very essence of new wave Spain,” said Peter Mitchell MW, wine director of Layton’s which now distributes Heretat Mont Rubi’s Sumoll wines.

“Sumoll has a tannic structure similar to Nebbiolo and its like Pinot Noir, not in taste, but because it difficult to vinify,” said Mitchell MW.

Heretat Mont Rubi’s very bright red Gaintus Radical (£16.95) and the Gaintus One Night’s Rosé were now “selling well”, said Mitchell, who also sells the high-end red Gaintus Vertical Sumoll (£34.95).

The Sumoll wines were among the new wave Spanish wines which Layton’s was planning to promote to a wider audience in Britain through distribution to independent wine merchants, he added.

Producer Heretat Mont Rubi in the Penedes, is one of pioneers of producing single variety Sumoll wines, which are now made by more than twenty producers in Catalonia and used in blends by larger producers including Torres.

It is now increasingly using eggs rather than oak to make its Sumoll wines.

Sumoll, which is know as Vijariego Negro in the Canary Islands, has become the star of recovered varieties in Catalonia, where 22 producers showcased their Sumoll wines earlier this year at the Microvi tasting in the Penedes.

Sumoll became nearly extinct after the 1950s, when many of the vines were pulled up in favour of other, non-native red grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay and indigenous white grape varieties such as Parellada, Macabeo, and Xareŀlo, used in the production of Cava.

Heretat Mont Rubi in 2001 recovered Sumoll, after the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, revealed that the grape variety could thrive in the dry, hot climates of the Mediterranean.

Sumoll was finally recognised as an official grape variety in 2009, and is now grown in four of Catalonia’s appellations including the Denomination of Origin’s of Catalunya, Pla de Bages, Tarragona and Penedes.

There is now about 200ha of Sumoll grown in Catalonia.

“Sumoll wines appeal due to their freshness and low alcohol,” said Sarah Jane Evans MW, adding Metropolitan markets were looking for something different that Sumoll has got.