41/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Empordà – Mas Espelt – Espelt Viticultors de l’Empordà – Comabruna 2010
Once again in the Empordà, where magic happens every day! What a beautiful wine region this is, with vineyards stretching out into the Mediterranean sea. The views are incredible and the wines made here follow suit. This is a place for total relaxation and enjoyment.
Going over my notes I realize it is hard to do the place justice. I am merely a visitor, whereas the winemakers here, live here, breathe here and probably are going to die here. They have captured the very essence of the region, so I am today going to share their words. But please, what ever you do in life, make sure you see Empordà before you die!
The Empordà Region
“An amphiteathre overlooking the sea, encircled by mountains, which transforms with the seasons. In winter, the magical, silent surprise of the snow rarely reaches it. In spring, the greens are tender and gentle. In summer, the land is parched, the yellows are bright and dry. At the end of the summer, everything becomes infused with a sweet light, as if touched by peaches. In September, the vines of the Empordà region are and elegant, golden grey. Each harvest expresses the perfect cycle of the Earth.”
“Of all the wind that caress the bunches of grapes in this land, the most powerful is the Tramuntana that blows from the north. A land wind that is impetuous, inclement and tenacious and that can last up to a week, and which, when it arrives oppresses us and when it leaves liberates us. It is considered responsible for the strange force of the landscape of the Empordà region and for the impulsiveness of its people. Our wines, like us, are touched by this fury and this peace that the Tramuntana gives us.”
Sauló, Sandy Gravel
“The lands of Vilajuiga and the bare, mineral coasts of the Cap the Creus are covered with a fine layer of gravel, a sandy earth that has its origin in the meteorisation of the granite. The climate of the Empordà region is responsible for its tortouse geology, softened by this sandy substratum that allows the vines to take root and feeds them with minerals from the rocks in the subsoil to provide the flavor, color and aroma that characterize our wines.”
It is said that the Empordà is a land of lunatics, of crazy people. A land in which impulsiveness dominates in the character of its people. This characteristic has led us to plant vines in this land that is hard to cultivate, to look for the exact setting, close to the Cap de Creus, where the vines grow contemplating a landscape of great beauty. From this ecstasy, and this beauty a vine grows which necessarily transmits character, poetry and quality.”
The generosity of the sun has meant that the non-local varieties we have planted have adapted to our land. Cultivating 17 varieties of vine is like having 17 children each one is different. This diversity, rather than complicating our work, makes it more enriching. As oenologists, it s a journey that encourages us to seek the greatest expression of each grape, to make subtle combinations to obtain modern wines full of passion, souls and personality.”
“Love of the land is the origin of our job. From this love we have obtained the certainty that we can not go against nature. We must make the most we can of this dry land and then give it its own philosophy. We must know what to do before planting, how to use fertilizer, which pruning system to use, we must know the exact moment for harvesting. Because the wine is made on the vine. This is the greatest wisdom of the wine grower.”
“One meaning of genius is character, energy, another is ability to create or invent new or admirable things. Character and energy are used to make the most of the land and to create our wines, full of hues, of expression, able to transmit emotion, to reach the heart, to linger in one’s memory. Wines with genius that follows the star of geniuses such as Dali or the author, Josep Pla, with an unquestionable L’Empordà DO.”
“The gods that have always been worshiped here loved wine. The first Greek gods intervened so that the vines would take root. The Romans asked their gods for their best auguries for their harvest. The gods of the monks in Sant Pere de Rodes monastery gave them the wisdom to cultivate the vines. Over the centuries this divine plan that we still respect today was not able to be conquered by the Barbarians, the Arabs, or the Turkish pirates or even by the devastating phylloxera.”