Valldosera Vines: Exploring the Grapes of the Garraf

Cristina Slattery visited Finca Valldosera recently and shares her experience with California 2 Iberia. Her blog can be found at: www.cristinaslattery.com

Jordi Valls Codina, the enologist who works at 200-hectare Finca Valldosera, south of Barcelona, wants wine consumers to know that wine produced here is distinct. The cava and wine he helps to create is sold under the demonimation of origin of the “Penedes” region; however, he would like wine enthusiasts to see these wines, and those created by six other producers located in the coastal mountain range of the Garraf Massif, as products that are unique and different from other wines produced in the Penedes region due to the massif’s calcareous soil. He took me to see the view from the highest point of the estate when I visited recently and it was impressive. It was a clear day with only a few wisp cumulus clouds in the bright blue sky; we could see Montserrat’s jagged edges jutting up into the sky to the north and the outline of the Montseny mountains in the distance. To the south, the Prades mountain range was visible on the horizon. Looking down, we saw the valley of the Penedes region and its population centers such as Vilafranca, while looking in the opposite direction, we saw the glittering Mediterranean sea in the distance and its shoreline.

Views of the Penedes

After enjoying this spectacular view and breathing in the clean air, Jordi took me to see the vines that are planted on twenty-five hectares of this two-hundred hectare estate. (On the way down to see the first vineyard, we encountered a photographer who had tested the limits of his all-terrain vehicle to capture some of the incredible views we had just enjoyed.) Ten varieties of grapes are cultivated on this portion of land and the vineyards containing different grape varieties are separated by woodland so that the grapes are influenced by the natural ecosystem that surrounds them. Jordi explained that the estate contains its own micro-climates and that the soils of the upper part and the lower part of the estate are distinct. (The soil of the upper part of the estate is sandier while the lower part’s reddish soil contains more clay.) He showed me fossils of coral that were created millions of years ago when the Massif was covered by salt water. He pointed out the wild herbs that grow freely near the vines – he picked rosemary and thyme for me and asked me to smell them – and then explained that the scents of these plants would translate into aromatic flavors that would appear when the wines were ready for consumption.

Valldosera wine bottles with rosemary & thyme herbs

The seven bodegas of the Garraf sub-region of Penedes would like the wine from this particular corner of Catalunya to be given its own denomination. Finca Valldesora exports cava and red and white wine and those who work on this estate are proud of the high evaluation that American wine expert Robert Parker has given some of the cava produced here. As of now, the estate cannot market its product as a wine of the “Garraf,” but, Finca Valldesora has decided to use the Mediterranean fan palm, an endemic species of this region, on marketing materials and labels. They hope that those looking for a wine that is from this region will know this symbol and find the product that they are seeking. Finca Valldesora exports around the world, and the those who work on this estate hope that individuals in the market for the unique product produced in the mineral-rich soil of these hills will look for the Mediterranean fan and find the wine and cava they are looking for, with the unique flavors that can only have been created in the hills of this ancient massif.

Vines at Finca Valldosera

Additional information: www.fincavalldosera.com (Private tours of the estate and wine tastings are available.)

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