It seems that we have a cult winery on our hands but one that nobody knows about, well, at least […]Keep Reading
It seems that we have a cult winery on our hands but one that nobody knows about, well, at least no one outside of Spain that is. In 2001 Raül Bobet headed up into the Catalan Pyrenees in search for land that would be protected from the increasing temperatures common in the more established DOs in Catalunya. While exploring this alpine terrain of the Costers del Segre, he discovered traces of ancient winemaking in the form of stone lagars carved into the very bedrock a few kilometers outside the small town of Talarn. Taking this as a sign, he chose this spot to be the location of what would become Castell d’Encus.
At 1000 meters in altitude, farming at Castell d’Encus is an interesting proposition. Surrounded by mountains, the site is prone to snow, frost, and attacks by ravenous birds so extensive steps must be taken to protect the vines and fruit from the depredations of nature. As is the case with other regions where the vines struggle to thrive, the finished wines benefit from the struggle and extra care taken to bring in a successful crop. Despite the youthfulness of the vineyards, the finished wines are remarkably complex and nuanced, and show the potential of moving back to places long abandoned. Because the climate is so extreme Raül has selected more northerly varieties to cultivate: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Riesling and Albarino. Which indigenous varieties were planted up here so long ago, will never be known, so it seems that he’s doing just fine with these – as recently remarked by Luis Guiterrez, “These are some of the most exciting new wines throughout Spain.”
The farming at Castell d’Encus is intensive and laborious. Only organic products are used in the vineyard, canopy management is rigorously practiced to shelter the grapes from UV light, and netting is necessary to protect the grapes from hail – an ever present danger at this elevation. The soils are a mix of calcareous clays with varying amounts of limestone. Some areas are high in chalk and are very fine, almost sandy, while others are rockier. Each soil type was matched to the varietals best suited to it and the wines show a freshness and minerality typical of this mountainous terroir. Harvest is manual with indigenous fermentations in tank, oak vats or stone lagars. With each passing vintage, the stone lagars are increasingly used for the primary fermentations and some wines, like Quest, are now fermented entirely in stone. Pigeage is actually done by foot, not machine, and racking is done by gravity or in some more extreme cases, by bucket! Because Raül believes that sustainability is not only important for farming, he uses geothermal energy for electricity at the cellars and recycles the water used on the property.Close