Ξ May 15th, 2008 | → 1 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, International Terroirs, Interviews, Wine News, Winemakers, Wineries |
The Castell del Mirall vineyards are located in the Penedès Denominació d’Origen (DO) of Catalunya, not far from the capital of the magnificent, most European of cities, Barcelona. I am interested in this winery for a few reasons: they use Braille labels, something I was to learn from David Assens, Export Manager from Castell, when he wrote a comment on my post about the subject. And earlier this Spring I was to learn of a water crisis in Barcelona. The city has begun to import water, 5 million gallons from nearby Tarragona has just arrived, later this week more will be shipped from Marseille. A fuller account may be found from Sky News. Hence a question arises as to the impact of the drought on the wine industry in nearby Penedès DO. Lluís Ferré, 2nd generation winegrower at Castell del Mirall, kindly agreed to discuss these matters, and more. David Assens translated from English to Catalan and back again. My great thanks to him for his assistance.
Admin I was originally drawn to Castell Del Mirall because yours is one of the few wineries in the world who add Braille to your wine labels. What was your motivation?
Lluís Ferré Our motivation was to be able to propose our wines to broader audience and not to forget people with this disability.
Are your Braille labels in Catalan? Do you relabel for the export market?
LF We do relabel in English. The Braille code only indicates the name of the wine and the vintage.
What has been the Spanish wine industry’s reaction to your Braille initiative?
LF People thought it was a pretty good idea; some winemakers said they will follow.
Barcelona is currently in the grip of a very serious drought. What has been the impact of the drought throughout Catalunya, especially among the local wineries?
LF We may lose 20% in terms of yields, TBD.
If the drought continues for another few years how will Castell Del Mirall respond? And the other wineries in Catalunya?
LF I think people will increase ploughing and use more cover crops in the vineyards and control even more the canopy. Of course they could choose more drought resistant varietals (Spanish), and also plant at higher elevation.
Do you believe the drought is a consequence of Global Warming? If so what are the long term consequences for Catalunya wineries and vineyards? How is the wine industry in Catalunya preparing?
LF Yes it is. We may have a drastic increase of sugar and higher pH in the future, which could lead to less ageing potential for the wines. Once again, more and more vineyards are now planted at 1500-2000 ft.
Here in Cailfornia Napa winegrowers have awakened to climate change. Do you have any advice for them?
LF Try to not force the nature: I mean they should plant varietals and rootstocks that really fit their terroir and climate.
Tell us, if you will, about the terroir of your vineyards. Where are they located? At what elevations?
LF Our vineyards are located in the Penedès region very close to Barcelona.
In Castellet i la Gornal (Baix Penedes) at 400ft, is located the “ Corral d’en Refeques” vineyard. It is the largest in size, with a total of 25.66 Hectares (55 acres), dedicated to the following grape varieties:
Cabernet Sauvignon: 19.17 Ha
Chardonnay: 4.57 Ha
Tempranillo: 2.64 Ha
Xarel.lo: 4.58 Ha
Syrah: 1.98 Ha
Merlot: 2.72 Ha
The “La Granada” vineyard, close to our village where the winery is spreads on 2.61 Ha property, at 500 ft, that includes:
Chenin Blanc: 2.08 ha
Garnatxa Negra: 0.53 ha
In the village of Guardiola de font-Rubi at 1200ft ( Alt Penedès) is located the “Cal Escudé” vineyard on 17.08 Ha (37 acres), planted to the following grape varieties:
Macabeo: 3,85 Ha
Merlot. 3.36 Ha
Syrah :3.68 Ha
Sauvignon Blanc: 1,62 Ha
Muscat d’Alexandria: 1,90 Ha
Parellada: 2,67 Ha
Our soils are composed of clays, limestone and granite. The average yield for dry wines is 3 tons/acre and 6 for Sparkling.
Castell Del Mirall produces quite a few wines! Could you tell us something of the grape varieties you grow?
LF As you can see, we grow Spanish, Catalonian and French varieties. We use the three Spanish and Catalonian varietals which are Xarel·lo, Macabeu and Parellada for our Cava Sparkling wines which are bottle fermented, (like in Champagne).
Beside this you see we mainly use Cabernet, Tempranillo, Merlot for our barrel aged wines and young wines.The Syrah usually goes into our entry level red and rosé. The Chenin Blanc goes into a white blend, and the Chardonnay is single varietal: and barrel fermented.
What is your case production? And how much is consumed in Spain? And in the balance of Europe? Great Britain?
LF We make 20.000 cases per year, 16.000 are sold in Catalonia (Northern Spain). The 4000 cases remaining are sold in the UK (200 cases), Japan, Germany, Holland, Sweden and the state of Florida in the US.
Who buys your wines? What are your target markets?
LF Our customers are generally in search of premium wines. As a result our wines are sold mainly in wine shop and restaurants and not in supermarkets.
We would love to conquer the US on a larger extend.
What ‘green’, environmentally sensitive practices does Castell Del Mirall have in place, or will begin in the future?
LF Basically, we never used herbicides in the vineyards and we spray very little. We are thinking of recuperating rain water and treat it for use in the cellar in the future.
Why can’t I find your wines in the United States?
LF Our importer in Florida is very small. Also, the sub prime crisis and the exchange rate €/$ slows down our expansion in the US for the moment.
What did you think of the film Mondovino?
LF In some ways, it is a caricature. But it is also true that influential wine critics (like Bob) can standardize the taste of fine wine.
What websites would you recommend for the American interested in Spanish wines?
LF We like this one: www.winesfromspain.com/
Thank you for your time, Lluís.