Article Spirited Singapore

By June Lee

Sommelier Miquel Sabrià Bernaneu has launched the first batch of soulful Catalan wines under his label, M.S.B. Somms and Vineyards, with label artwork by a Singaporean artist.

Mention the wines of Catalunya, and you might think of the sparkling wines of Cava, or the powerful reds of Priorat. Yet Catalunya is home to no less than 12 official wine regions, known as denominaciones de origen (D.O.) of which one of them, Priorat, qualifies for the highest level of denominacion de origen qualificada (D.O.Q.)

It is the passion and enthusiasm for these wines that led Miquel Sabrià Bernaneu to wonder why Catalan wines have not been presented as a collection before. The hospitality veteran might be a familiar name to those who have dined at the now-defunct Catalunya and Olivia in Singapore, as he has worked for the last decade or more in Barcelona, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Singapore.

With the idea firmly in place by 2018 and headquartered in Barcelona, Miquel began identifying like-minded winemakers and estates to collaborate with for his label, which he named M.S.B. Somms and Vineyards – after his initials as well as the professionals on both sides of the grapes who share the same values of quality and sustainability. As such, he worked closely with each partner vineyard to respect the characteristics and elaboration of the native grapes, in general making less than 1,000 bottles of each label in the first collection.

With Singapore close to his heart as ever, it was a joy for Miquel to present the first release of his wines exclusively at 67 Pall Mall Singapore on 8 July. Comprising six of the 12 D.O.s in this first collection, the wines include one Rosé, two whites and three reds sold as a set. The second collection will comprise the remaining six D.O.s in a future set (for the record, that means D.O. Alella, D.O. Pla de Bages, D.O. Costers del Segre, D.O. Tarragona, D.O. Catalunya and D.O. Cava).

The delicate, even whimsical, labels were painted by Singaporean artist Mary Bernadette Lee, who took inspiration from her travels through Catalunya and imbued small personalised touches such as a figure of Miquel in his favourite wine, Pur 2018.

Here’s a look at the full collection.

M.S.B. Lila 2020, D.O. Empordà

The fresh salmon pink hue belies a richness of fruit from red Grenache and Macabeu, blended at final tasting before bottling. The winemaker is Josep Serra, from the northeastern region of Empordà, in the province of Girona. This D.O. may be well known historically for Rosé but produces more reds currently.

M.S.B. Blanca 2020, D.O. Terra Alta

Dry, fresh, mineral and aromatic with pear and melon notes, Blanca pays homage to the white Grenache grape, also known as Vernatxa, of which ⅓ of the world’s production can be found in Terra Alta. Elaborated by experienced winemaker Joan Angel Liberia, the wine sees just 4 months in used French oak, to allow the purity of the variety to shine.

M.S.B. Daurat 2019, D.O. Penedès

A true gastronome wine, Daurat means ‘golden’, a nod to the colour of this wine as it has the potential to age beautifully. Composed of fruit from old vines of Xarel-lo (95%) and 5% Malvasia de Sitges for aroma, the wine could only be from winemaker Ramon Parera, a champion of low intervention and autochthonous grapes in the town of Torrelavit. Look for crisp, complex notes of apricot, lime and honeysuckle, while a flinty salinity carries through to the finish. Drink this in a Burgundy glass.

M.S.B. Essència 2019, D.O. Conca de Barberà

As the label may indicate, this sensuous wine from the tricky Trepat grape is a charmer. The most light-bodied of the three reds, it exudes freshness with elegance; strawberries and cream with a touch of cinnamon. Winemaker Bernat Andreu makes this from handpicked old vine grapes.

M.S.B. Aura 2019, D.O. Montsant

Red Grenache is once again the championed grape here in the D.O. Montsant, located inside the prestigious Priorat county. This full-bodied wine was aged 85% in French oak barrels with 15% in concrete egg for eight months, imparting a trace of silkiness to its bold, powerful palate. Winemaker Joan Ignasi Domènech practices organic, manual viticulture which contributes to the precision of the quality.

M.S.B. Pur 2018, D.O. Priorat

Unabashedly Miquel’s favourite wine, the Pur comes from the town of Porrera under the purview of winemakers Josep Maria del Aguila and Mayte Pellicer. Carignan and red Grenache are allowed to display all their authenticity and rusticity even,to evoke the real soul of the hardscrabble Mediterranean landscape and its people. The medium-bodied structure reveals finely honed red and black fruit, backed by the slatey minerality from black licorella soils so unique to this region and a savoury sprinkle of herbal-mint notes.

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About the Author

June Lee drinks and eats for a living. For over 20 years, she couldn’t pick just one, so she specialises across food, wine, spirits and cocktail writing for editorial publications such as epicure magazine, Tatler Dining and Michelin Guide Asia.

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