The story is so familiar it really could write itself. A bucolic setting, a familial cast of characters, decades of struggle and innovation that looks as much forward as it does backward. In Spain this is the story of many properties now under the leadership of a younger generation, youthful wine growers who have returned to their roots after taking inspiration from further afield. Ask Josep and Joan d’Anguera who they see as benchmark estates, they are as likely to site Roagna or Gramenon as any compatriot. Turning this insight inward, they’ve asked themselves not, how can we copy these wines? But instead, how can I make my land and my vines speak as expressly?
The first step towards the reinvention of Celler Joan d’Anguera was the transition to biodynamic farming with certification by Demeter in 2008. Returning to the land in such an intimate manner taught them to appreciate their oldest vines – their indigenous inheritance. As each site responded to the practices of biodynamics, they discovered that what was once though of as rustic was merely abused, misunderstood or disregarded. Having reduced yields by close to 50%, they began to discover that each site had its own character – something that is now captured in each cuvée that they make.
Having sorted their vineyards, Josep and Joan turned to their cellar practices. With healthier fruit, lower yields and better balance in ripening they were able to transition to whole cluster fermentation by indigenous yeasts. Concrete is now the preferred fermentation vessel and the fruit is crushed by foot. Macerations are long but very gentle with the goal to coax out the character of each parcel rather than extract it forcefully. Aging in now done in neutral, well-seasoned French oak barrels, demi-muids and foudres so as to not impart any flavor of wood in their wines.
Located between the coastal range and the Ebro valley, Celler Joan d’Anguera represents a more Mediterranean expression of the D.O. of Montsant but within that context, these are remarkable elegant expressions of Garnatxa and Carinyena. Their production of Syrah has decreased and they’ve retained the best vines that their father planted in cooler, north-facing sites. Much their remaining Syrah goes into their entry level cuvée and they’ve reduced the percentage in the Planella to 15% choosing to make Carinyena the core of this cuvée. Garntaxa is now the focus of two cuvées – their “village” wine Altaroses, and the single vineyard L’Argatà. At the top of their range are an old-vine Carinyena, L’Hostal and a new old-vine Garntaxa cuvée, Viña de la Gloria.
The affable iconoclast Alfredo Maestro started making wine in the late 1990’s when he planted his first vineyard, Almate, near his hometown in the Ribera del Duero. From the beginning,...