Viticulture

Viticulture

The end of the vineyard cycle is near. We already have well-populated berries and we are waiting for not last minute surprises. We have a look back on this intense year’s harvest.

We are facing this harvest with a desire to review the last few months. We worked hard and received the support of such spectacular visits as Jancis Robinson in September. There are eight generations of winemakers who endorse us, but there is always time for innovation. We now feel that we are facing a stage of maturity and consolidation. Our project based on respect for the land and the sustainable management of resources is more than twenty years old and that’s quite impressive even for us.

Our comprehensive management of the vineyards tries to take care of the biodiversity of the area. Encouraging the preservation and improvement of biodiversity is right now the cornerstone of our project. After the fire in Mas Marès, in February, we had a test (which we had never wanted) of the good work done in Cap de Creus. This Mediterranean mosaic project, an agricultural management system that combines different types of agricultural areas (pastures, vineyards and high protection areas) has been shown to be the best fire prevention.

Awards and pending work

After all, we try to make our wines as an expression of small pieces of Empordà landscape. This is the territory we consciously care for. We couldn’t do it any other way. The reward for this work over the years has been recognized recently by the awards received. In first place, Pla de Tudela – Anna Espelt (Best Picapoll Blanc segons La Guia de Vins de Catalunya 2022). Then it was the turn of Les Elies (Gold Medal Grenaches du Monde 2022). Finally, the silver medals of the WWA Decanter 2022 for Coma Bruna (100% Carignan) and Lledoner Roig (100% Grey Grenache).

Finally, the visit this spring of Dylan Grigg, an expert in viticulture, has helped us to make a panoramic reflection of everything we have advanced. We have done a lot of work on local varieties, on resilience, on bearded vines, on potted vines. It has also helped us to make a stop and see everything we have left to do. Little by little we are making our way!

Coma Bruna (91 points) and Lledoner Roig (92 points) received the Decanter Silver Medal, one of the most important recognitions in Europe. These are two Decanter Silver medals in addition to the Bronze Medals for Terres Negres (89 points) and Quinze Roures (88 points).

Espelt wines awarded the Decanter Silver Medal

We are very pleased with this new recognition we receive from one of the most prestigious competitions in Europe: Decanter World Wine Awards. On this occasion, the Decanter Silver Medal goes for two wines that are an homage to the most essential Empordà terroir, Coma Bruna, 100% Carignan, and Lledoner Roig, 100% Gray Grenache.

These are two wines that were the beginning of a long reflection for the recovery of local varieties, such as Carignan (red, white) and also Gray Greanche (also called lledoner roig). Both are also wines that come from our oldest vineyards, from Rabós, and that express in a particular way a terroir of shales, from vineyards in vas, very adapted to our microclimate.

In this edition of Decanter World Wine Awards we also received the Bronze Medal for Terres Negres and Quinze Roures. These two Espelt flagship wines represent our desire to make Empordà wines, ecological, that express the territory. Since the 2020 vintage, they have both been ecologically certified, a further step in our commitment with our landcape and its ecosystem. You can find them in our store!

We are very pleased to announce that we offer a winetour forward to hearing from you in the last days of spring in the vineyard. We open visits to the vineyards of Vilajuïga with tasting. It will be on June 4th and 18th.

Wientour in Vilajuïga

These days in June, with endless hours of sunshine, mean that we are slowly entering summer. The field feels it, too, and little by little, the vegetation is turning yellow, while the vines go from having nothing, to having primroses, flowers, and perhaps frost.

These are key moments for the vineyard, the evolution of the plant these days, the weather, will largely determine the production. That is why we open visits in an exceptional way. We will be very excited that you come to know this unique moment in our vineyards of Vilajuïga. It will be on Saturday, June 4th and 18th, in the morning, so that the sun does not burn us too much. You need to wear comfortable shoes in order to share with us all the secrets that hide the vineyards.

You will have the opportunity to know with the explanations of Anna Espelt, director of the winery, how we work in ecological vineyards. We consider that the integral management of the territory, respecting the biodiversity and regenerating the soils are essential, if we want to make wine for many years. The visit will be accompanied by a tasting of Espelt wines.

Practical information:

Integral land management requires a lot of observation, understanding the land in its circumstances. In recent years we have seen that the viticulture that the land deserves is sustainable, integrated and regenerative. A way of doing things that confirms that only if we work the land with love and respect can we continue to reap the benefits.

viticulture land deserves

The last fire in February, which burned several hectares of pastures and bushes in Cap de Creus, confirmed something that we had been intuiting for some time, but which we had not yet been able to verify. Comprehensive land management is the only way we have for human action to benefit biodiversity.

In Catalonia, the forest mass continues to grow, due to the abandonment of pastures and farmland. We have large forests and at the same time this is not always synonymous with great diversity and yes, with a higher risk of fires. It is one of the first things we learned when we started planting vines in Cap de Creus and we planned to distribute them with the technicians of the Cap de Creus Natural Park. Management was needed to promote the biodiversity of the area and protect especially the habitat of protected species areas.

MIDMACC: viticulture, erosion and climate change

For our part, biodiversity could play in our favor, we sensed, now we know. The coexistence of different species, some introduced by the human hand, such as cows or the little kestrel, others that have been there for a long time naturally, helps the virtuous circle to continue to function. Everything contributes to the richness of the soils and their preservation. Moreover, we continue working with scientific and research studies such as the MIDMACC study by the UAB CREAF research group, which has analyzed the different factors that affect the vulnerability of mid-mountain soils, with special attention to climate change and its effects. This week we participated in a conference organized by this research group to explain our experience after the fire of February and the provisional results confirms again our choices.

In short, the viticulture that the land deserves must be borne in mind that it is part of a much broader system that must be respected. Dry stone walls built over a century ago and rebuilt now are also part of the cycle. Also the vineyards, another part of all this space managed in an integrated, holistic way. No element is left over, they all play in favor of the territory.

Vivid is here with two activities: Nature in the Espelt vineyards and Wines and Landscapes in Cap de Creus. These are the activities we have prepared for the wine tourism festival in the Empordà during the month of April. Wine is made on land. Come and taste Espelt wines while discovering the nature around us.

Espelt Viticultors presents two activities at the Vívid, the wine tourism festival in the Empordà that takes place during the month of April.

The first activity is a walk through the vineyards of Mas Marés to learn about the management of the territory through agricultural systems of high natural value, a mosaic that protects and ensures the biodiversity of the area. We will get to know the area of Mas Marés and Pla de Gates, recently affected by a forest fire that was stopped thanks to the integrated management we do of these lands. We will also discover the fauna and flora that coexist harmoniously and that make us aware of the need to take care of the territory, the most precious legacy we have.

The second activity is with the collaboration of the IAEDEN (Alt-Empordà Institution for the Defense and Study of Nature). We invite you to make an itinerary on foot through the vineyards of Vilajuïga to discover all the natural treasures which are hidden in the framework of the Vivid Festival. With the ornithologist David Ibáñez, and in the midst of the bird migration season, we will have the opportunity to observe birds returning from the warm lands after winter. We will also identify aromatic plants that coexist among the strains, and if we are lucky otters!

During the two walks with Anna Espelt, director of Espelt Viticultors, we will taste wines that come from the vineyards that we will be visiting, and that Anna and her team work so hard to have all this natural richness. At the end of Natura’s itinerary in the vineyards, we can also pair them with a table of local cheeses from the Abricoc store.

Practical information activities:

Wines and landscapes of Cap de Creus

Nature in the Espelt vineyards

Des que el 2004 vam començar a plantar vinya a Mas Marès, al Cap de Creus, sabíem que volíem respectar al màxim l’ecosistema existent i fins i tot aportar-li més riquesa. Us expliquem què és el mosaic i com el treballem a Mas Marès fins crear el que s’anomena tècnicament un sistema agrari d’alt valor natural.

Ja fa quasi vint anys que vam comprar les vinyes de Mas Marès. De seguida ens vam posar en contacte amb el Parc Natural del Cap de Creus per treballar conjuntament en la gestió d’aquell tros de territori. Les vinyes estarien inserides en un espai natural que estimem, calia fer-ho bé. A més, conscients que la mà dels ésser humans hi ha estat present des de fa milers d’anys (dòlmens i menhirs ho certifiquen) calia una gestió integrada de totes les terres.

Mas Marès i tot el Cap de Creus és un paisatge que meravella a tothom que ens ve a conèixer. Darrere de la bellesa hi ha sí o sí una gestió, imprescindible. El 2004 amb l’ajuda de Xavi Vilavella, tècnic del Parc Natural en aquell moment, i de l’Anna Sanitjas, enginyera forestal que va fer el projecte tècnic de gestió i millora forestal, vam idear la distribució del mosaic a Mas Marès. El pla de gestió de les terres tenien i tenen en compte uns objectius compartits:

  • prevenció d’incendis forestals
  • augment progressiu de la biodiversitat
  • protecció de les espècies en perill d’extinció
  • eliminació de plantes invasores

Els elements del mosaic de Mas Marès

El mosaic o sistema agrari d’alt valor natural fa el territori més resilient al canvi climàtic, als incendis, i li aporta més capacitat per nínxols ecològics, per tant més biodiversitat. Les quatre unitats del mosaic de Mas Marès, al Cap de Creus, estan distribuïts estratègicament en quatre unitats que es retroalimenten creant un cercle virtuós, un ecosistema equilibrat:

  • pastures: s’han mantingut les velles, amb les vaques, i se n’han anat creant de noves, desbrossant. Són a la part Nord i per tant la zona més exposada a perills com el foc
  • vinyes i oliveres: amb coberta vegetal verda a la tardor, hivern i primavera. A l’estiu es treballen les zones que limitem amb el matollar, per a fer de tallafocs.
  • suredes: regenerar aquests espais és clau, són ecosistema madur, evolucionat en aquesta zona, perquè sempre n’hi ha hagut. Hem mantingut les que hi havia, hem netejat el sotabosc mantenint els plançons
  • zones sense intervenció: a l’extrem sud, és on hi ha els ecosistemes més establerts. Els deixem que evolucionin de forma natural cap a ecosistemes més madurs a nivell de diversitat. Interessa protegir-los al màxim.

Les zones es distribueixen en funció de la vulnerabilitat de l’ecosistema que volem protegir. En el cas del mosaic de Mas Marès, la zona Nord és clarament la zona més exposada a incendis i per tant a pèrdues. Per tenir un mosaic equilibrat és imprescindible la cura de totes les unitats que requereixen intervenció. Si ho voleu escoltar en paraules de l’Anna Espelt us recomanem aquest episodi de Bar de Vins.

Since we can remember, we have seen cows in Albera and Cap de Creus. Changes in the contemporary world have made transhumance more complicated. The beasts, however, still need to change their minds when winter comes.

For years, we have had an agreement for these cows from Ripollès to graze in our vineyards in Cap de Creus. They win with good pastures: Xavi, the shepherd, tells us that if it rains there will be good grass (hopefully it will be so and it will rain soon!).

The whole environment of Mas Marés also gains with an enriched ecosystem. Thanks to its presence, we help the mosaic, this Mediterranean landscape that is a reflection of the variety of ecosystems and biodiversity. With the cows, one more element is added so that the different ecosystems that coexist in this space create synergies between them. Cows are important because they make for more open space, which is great for other animals to come, such as the little kestrel, which we’ve already told you about. They also reduce flammable biomass and therefore reduce the risk of fire, bringing more organic matter to the soil, thus closing a virtuous circle. If you go up to the Pic de l’Àliga or Pla de Gates you can find the cows grazing quietly again and sunbathing and wind, and hopefully it will rain soon. Tell us if you were able to greet them, did you see them?

Dry stone is part of our landscape, one of the reasons we rebuild dry stone walls. Dry Stone Week takes place from 19th to 28th November. More than 100 activities organized throughout the territory of the Catalan Countries to raise awareness of this cultural heritage.

pedra seca

This week will take place the 2nd edition of Dry Stone Week. More than 100 activities that vindicate, update and put these spaces of popular architecture and biodiversity at the center. The conference, organized by various organizations throughout the territory, is a good starting point if you want to know more about these rural buildings.

Dry stone is an ancient technique of separating fields, but also of gaining cultivation space on uneven ground. In addition, over the years we have seen that the vineyards that had dry stone walls nearby were more resilient and with more biodiversity, as the holes between stones are natural dens for all kinds of insectivorous species and small reptiles, amphibians, birds. In Mas Marés we have rebuilt more than 3,000 m of dry stone walls because they are part of our landscape and our heritage, but above all because they are a refuge for a rich and powerful ecosystem.

Let’s participate in the Seca de la Pedra Seca, there are more than 40 scheduled events, more than 20 trainings and more than 30 disclosure acts about the Catalan Countries. You can also come to meet us and learn first hand why we rebuild the walls of dry stone.

You have the calendar of activities and the location map on the Dry Stone Week website. Don’t miss it!

La Vella is our white Carignan of old vineyards, planted in 1919. This wine is the culmination of a process of observation, research and study on the local varieties of the Empordà.

Some time ago, with Dylan Grigg we were sorting out all the vineyards we had, analyzing them, rediscovering forgotten varieties and deciding that we could never leave them nameless again. From this exhaustive study came the library of varieties, and hence our idea of making wines that would recover them, like this white Carignan.

La Vella is a tribute to the winegrowers who have worked hard to preserve these vines for a long time, despite the low yield, although the trend for many years was to uproot and put varieties that gave more grapes. Winegrowers such as Àngel Poch, who with perseverance and love for the land have made it possible for La Vella to become a reality today.

Thank you all for working the land with love for so many years!

You can now order La Vella in our shop online.

Àngel Poch La Vella white Carignan
Àngel Poch, owner and viticulturist of the white Carignan vineyards, La Vella.

We started a yeast in the vineyard by the sea, in Mas Marés. This fermented juice is what we will put in the vat where the grapes from this vineyard will go. The idea is to reproduce the yeasts already present in the skin of the grapes so that it is the main one in the wine.

If we want to make a wine in which both the grapes and the yeast are only from a certain vineyard, the only way is to cultivate them in the vineyard. If we do not do so, it is possible that the yeasts that appear are not only those of the grapes, but also those present in the cellar. It’s kind of like a primary yeast for bread but of and for wine. This yeast will help to ensure that there is already an active yeast population that is imposed during fermentation. Growing this crop makes it easier for the fermentation to go well. This is a very effective technique in small volumes of wine which we have already applied on other occasions.

We peel the grapes. We choose the ones that are whole and beautiful and have no cracks or are becoming raisins. We crush them until no spheres are left and all the juice comes out. We put them with all the juice they have taken out in a jar that we leave badly closed. That’s the way to let come out the carbonic when the fermentation begins.

We would like to be able to do it in Pardells, in Rabós, too;) We will tell you.

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