A Belfast family who makes an award winning Creu Celta red wine in the north east of Spain is celebrating the 20th year of production. Wine merchants Peter and Neal McAlindon who operate family-owned Direct Wine Shipments in Corporation Square produced their first Creu Celta vintage in 2003 in the Priorat region of Catalonia. Wine journalist Oz Clarke was so impressed that he included it in his ‘Top 250 wines’ imported into the U.K. He described it as a: “Great big beefy powerhouse red to warm an Ulsterman’s heart,” adding that: “It’s smashing. Well done lads. Slainte”
This high praise has fuelled the McAlindons to try and improve everything to do with their vineyard and their wines as the years have rolled on.
The vineyard features a mixture of old grapes (70 plus years) as well as maturing vines planted when they first started 20 years ago.
Creu Celta means Celtic Cross in Catalan and was inspired by the exceptional 15th Century High Cross found on Devenish Island in County Fermanagh. The region Priorat means ‘Priory’ as it was the Carthusian monks who established wines in the region in the 12th Century.
Creu Celta is produced from the indigenous Garnatxa (Grenache) & Samso (Carignan) grapes. It’s a bodied red with chocolate, cherry, plum, pine, spice and smoky nuances. A good match for steak, slow cooked meats and hard cheeses but “also wonderful with many vegan and vegetarian recipes such as nut roasts, mushroom dishes, veggie burgers, stews and curries,” says Peter.
Since 2003, a total of sixteen releases have come from the vineyard in Salanques, situated outside the village of Poboleda, and as well as the mighty Creu Celta another wine ‘Terra Sagrada’ has been produced recently.
Neal explains that “Terra Sagrada is the second release from our vineyards, the name means ‘sacred ground’ and it’s a full expression of the noble Syrah (Shiraz) grape variety. Traditionally found in the Rhone, this variety excels in the demanding slate-based soils of Priorat” This is another full-bodied red now gaining acclaim.
Over the 20 years Creu Celta has been exported to the USA and Poland and has found itself on some wonderful English & Irish Michelin restaurant wine lists. More awards and praise have continued and in 2020 a Gold Medal was awarded at the prestigious Sommelier Wine Awards in London.
“This has been the greatest award to date for Creu Celta. With each new vintage our wine is developing more complexity. As the vineyard gains maturity, the vines have a deeper root network & derive more flavour, intensity & minerality. The newer vintages of Creu Celta are a step up from the earlier releases and it has been a privilege to work with Sylvia Puig, one of Catalunya & Spain’s best winemakers.” Peter McAlindon
The brothers’ father, the late Kevin McAlindon was a well-known figure in Northern Ireland’s wine trade. He brought Spanish wines to the attention of the public here when they were not fashionable and was honoured by the Spanish government for his enthusiasm and education over many decades.
In 1996 he was inaugurated into the ‘Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino’ accompanying such figures as Miguel Torres, Jancis Robinson MW and Tim Atkin MW.
“Kevin’s ultimate dream was to produce a great wine from our own Catalan vineyard. He was able to see this begin and we have been able to continue achieving this goal over these two decades with these wonderful wines!” Neal McAlindon