Situated high in the Priorat Hills in the southern part of the DO Montsant, the area of Capçanes is home to the historic Celler Capçanes.
As much as any winery in the DO Montsant, Celler Capçanes embodies the diversity and potential of the region.
From distinctive soil-designate Grenache wines to organic red blends to a range of kosher wines, Cellar Capçanes winemakers Anna Rovira and Jürgen Wagner are part of a group of young and talented winemakers writing the next chapter of the Montsant wine narrative.
Like much of the surrounding region, Capçanes has a deep viticulture history dating back to the 13th century. After Phylloxera ravaged vineyards in the early 19th century, five families formed a winery co-operative in the 1930s to save viticulture in the region and their way of life.
“We are actually the old cooperative of the village of Capçanes founded in 1933 but completely transformed over the last 20 years,” explained Wagner.
For over fifty years, wine produced at the co-op was sold as bulk juice. A fortuitous request from the local Jewish community served as a catalyst to shift their focus to producing distinctive wines of place two decades ago.
In 1995, the Jewish community of Barcelona approached the team about producing kosher wine under the rigorous Lo Mevushal production method. Today, the Cellar Capcanes kosher wines (four reds and one rose) are widely considered some of the finest in the wine world.
“I have learned to listen to the vineyards and grapes,” said Rovira of her winemaking philosophy. “The wine is made itself, I just have to drive it and be able to express their best in each bottle.”
The centerpiece of Celler Capçanes’ expression of local terroir is four soil-designate Grenache wines called ‘La nit de les Garnatxes.’ Each of the four 100% Grenache wines are vinified the same way but grown in different soils: sand, clay, limestone, and slate.
“For many years we showed these experimental terroir wines exclusively during our yearly Garnacha Party, called ‘La nit de les Garnatxas,’ held in May,” noted Wagner in an email. “But, two years ago we decided to share this terroir experience with consumers by offering the wines for sale.”
The grenache grown in sand is full of red fruit with mineral notes while the clay ‘expression’ offered more textured dark fruits and softer mouthfeel. The Grenache grown in limestone was chalky with flavors of savory herbs; the wine made from Grenache grown in slate soils is more tannic with pepper notes. The chalky/flinty, fuller-bodied Grenache grown in limestone was my favorite.
To help tell the story of the four soil types, each bottle of ‘La nit de les Garnatxas‘ is wrapped in comics drawn by the Celler Capçanes.
A fascinating study of soil expression!
For a taste of Capçanes terroir, U.S. consumers can find Celler Capçanes wines in larger markets. Eric Solomon imports the Mas Donis line, Royal Wine Corp imports Cellar Capcanes’ kosher wines, and EuropvinUSA handles the La Nit de les Garnatxa terroir wines.
[Part four of this series featuring Josep Grau will be posted next week. The series will conclude with ‘A Case of Montsant Wines to Seek Out.’]