In the Priorat village of Porrera the restaurant La Cooperativa is one of the best choices, with what I may call fusion Mediterranean food, and offers a good example in wine service.
When opening the wine list, the first page holds only two phrases, which say more or less:
• “Our prices are those of our shop plus 2 € per person for service”
• “Remember that the wine and bottle are yours, as you have paid for them, and you are welcome to take away any remaining wine”
As bottle price in the shop is already competitive, this is a restaurant that really is not bleeding their guests by means of wine. Does the rest meet expectations, or is it just a low cost option?
Their wine list is, not surprisingly, centered on Porrera and Priorat wines, with a wide range of producers, big and small. The owner, Litus, is knowledgeable and gives sound advice. Glassware is adequate, as is wine temperature. They willingly decant your wine (once they actually suggested decanting only part of a bottle, as we were going to a tasting in the afternoon, to be able to take away the rest of the wine in the bottle). Also some special wines are on offer for dessert by the glass.
In the medium price restaurant range, La Cooperativa is very close to my expectations in terms of wine service; a list of wines by the glass would be the icing of the cake.
Another interesting restaurant is El Racó, in the village of Sant Climent de Llobregat, close to Barcelona. This used to be a popular eating house and is now evolving into a blend of traditional cuisine and more sophisticated food, devised by the son of the owners.
This is not a wine producing area (rather, cherries are the specialty) and the wine list shows a nice balance, with plenty of interesting Catalan wines and a good selection of wines from other regions. Riedel glassware, properly cleaned with reverse osmosis water. Big and tidy cellar that ensures correct wine temperature. A choice of sweet wines by the glass, including Sauternes for foie. And all this at fair prices. Clearly in the good direction.
Within the city of Barcelona, there are still some masias, or farm buildings, although most of them are dedicated to other businesses (such as the famous one that hosts the FC Barcelona young football players). Some are now restaurants, and one of the nicest is Can Travi Nou.
Unfortunately, the premises and food are let down by wine service. Wine list is attractive, with a good balance among wine zones and producers, and prices are competitive, but glasses are small and of inferior quality, and the last red I asked was so warm that I had to request an ice bucket to cool it down. I know that in some places the excuse can be that they only keep at controlled temperature the more expensive bottles (a poor excuse, especially if they charge 300 % the less expensive bottles), but this one was in the higher price range.
I hope that the management realizes the potential improvements to their service and eventually bring it into line with their otherwise pleasant offering.
I will open a short parenthesis; I’m off to Burgundy, Alsace and Switzerland. By mid-August I’ll be back.