135/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Vallbona de les Monges – l’Olivera – Vallisbona 89
…., the beginning of love, is when you realize that there are wine makers out there trying to make a difference. How? Help the community, the less fortunate, and at the same time help me as a wine lover to experience some well made wines, while at the same time I am buying the bottle I know, that I too am making an effort to help out. This is certainly the beginning of a beautiful friendship and l’Olivera is going to be visited over and over again. Read the full story here! Catalan Wine 365 writes about wines from the amazing wine making regions of Catalonia, one wine a day for 365 days during 2014!
The history of Vallbona is defined by the presence of the oldest Cistercian convent in Catalonia. The Cistercian order was founded in Burgundy and is dedicated to combining spiritual activity according to the Rule of St Benedict with agricultural development and regional planning. Vallbona is a land of ridges and small valleys that reflect the erosive power of water, which left its mark and shaped the landscape. It is a place of deep soil, with hillsides supported by dry-rock retaining walls. These structures, along with numerous cabins, speak of the area’s more populous, productive past. The retaining walls are a key factor in keeping the soil fertile and using water efficiently; and the knowledge and hard work built up over generations permit us to enjoy an impressive landscape that is now seriously endangered.
The area has an inland Mediterranean continental climate, with nights cooled by the sea breeze, and with minimal rainfall (around 350 mm per year). The altitude (450-700 m) allows for a mild, long ripening period, which is a limitation for certain crops. The natural vegetation is Mediterranean and can be found along the old retaining walls, the ridges and in the abandoned fields.
L’Olivera was born in 1974 when a group of people decided to move to Vallbona de les Monges, in the south of the Lleida region of Catalonia, to work in two areas: providing support for the integration of people with psychiatric disabilities into society, especially those in disadvantaged social situations; and considering productive economic solutions based on local values. Since the beginning this has always been a cooperative formed by multidisciplinary people focusing on local social objectives and economic development.
Right from the start, social action has been at the core of the project. In addition to the production activities and activities for integration into employment, they also organize community activities with the people that they work with, who are mainly people with psychiatric disabilities, especially those in more disadvantaged situations. These people are just as much a part of the cooperative as anybody else and can become full members if they wish. Since 2000, an occupational therapy service has also been in place. This group of eight people organise activities for the development of personal and social skills and work therapy (gardening, environmental maintenance, etc.). There is also a residential home open all year round with accommodation for up to 16 people. Built in 2004, the home has seven members of staff.
Another step forward in the cooperative’s social action was creating the Olivera Foundation. The Foundation was the fruit of 31 years of action, the consolidation of the production project and the new social objectives that has been set over the years. At the Annual General Meeting held in April 2003 it was decided to create the Olivera Foundation alongside the cooperative as a means of ensuring the long-term continuation of the organisation’s work and fostering new initiatives for the social and occupational integration of people with disabilities or at risk of social exclusion in rural areas. So far the Foundation has participated in funding the completion of the residential home and the purchase of an adapted minibus.
The Foundation is also responsible for managing 0.7% of the cooperative’s turnover, which goes into social projects that L’Olivera has some kind of direct contact with in the third and fourth world. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, this part of the cooperative’s turnover will be spent on a new building for people with sensory disabilities at El Mina school in Noukchott (Mauritania). If you love wine, you probably love people, because without people, there would be no wine! In this case, you know you’re enjoying twofold! Make sure your next glass of wine contains one of l’Oliveras wonderful products!
Vallisbona 89, 100% Chardonnay
Vallisbona (Campomonalium de Vallisbona) is the name used on some old documents to refer to the village of Vallbona de les Monges. Vallisbona’89 is the embodiment of the experience since they began producing white wines in 1989. Each year they select the best vineyard parcels and selectively harvest the very best grapes. The wine is then carefully produced in the cellar, where the must is fermented in new French oak barrels and the wine is aged on the lees. The wines from the best barrels are blended and then bottled in a very limited number.
The wines has a subtle yellow color with green hues. A complex nose with notes of tropical fruit, citrus fruits and toast. A delicate palate that grows in intensity. The smoothness is balanced by the acidity and freshness of the raw material. A lengthy, lingering finish. Pairs well with shellfish and traditional Mediterranean dishes such as cannelloni.
244 to go!