We’ve known Anna Espelt since 2005 when we first started working with her family’s estate, Espelt viticultors, in DO Empordà. […]Keep Reading
We’ve known Anna Espelt since 2005 when we first started working with her family’s estate, Espelt viticultors, in DO Empordà. Having studied habitat restoration and organic farming, Anna has always sought to bring her values in line with the farming practices at her family’s large estate of 200 hectares. While managing her family’s operations, she has also been pursuing something more personal – a project focused on 25 hectares of vineyards collectively called Mas Marés located within the Cap de Creus Nature Reserve of Spain. While hiking around this area, she not only recognized the potential to revitalize some ailing vineyard sites, but she discovered evidence of human interaction with this ancient landscape dating back to the early bronze age. At once, Anna knew this place was special, not only for the wine that it could produce but for the very fact that humans had been interacting with this place for millennia.
When asked to describe her work in Cap Creus, Anna states that it is a land of granite, wind, blue skies, and the smell of wild herbs and sea spray. While it may seem odd that she doesn’t mention vineyards in this description, it is largely because vines have been an integral part of this landscape shaped in equal parts by nature and human hands. In the US, our National Parks strive to minimize the impact of civilization, whereas, in this part of Catalunya, there is no escaping it. What might seem like a relic of a glacier is, in fact, a standing stone erected by human hands over 4000 years ago for some long-forgotten purpose. With Anna’s dedication to organic and regenerative farming, these vineyards can once again be brought into balance with the surrounding flora and fauna. Through her work, Anna is paying tribute to the thousands of years of interaction between her ancestors and the land they’ve inhabited.
For such an intimate project, Anna works with Picapolla, Lledoner Blanc, Lledoner Roig, and Lledoner Negre. These are the local names for Clairette, Garnacha Blanca, Garnacha Roja (Gris), and Garnacha Negra. Anna chose these varieties because they seem best adapted to the sandy, granitic soils, show resilience to the nearly constant wind, and perfectly express the minerality and salinity of Cap de Creus. The vineyards are intermixed with oak trees, pastures, and fields of wild herbs, and the farming is certified organic. She tills her soils only when it benefits the natural cover crops and utilizes organic inputs only when it benefits the entire ecosystem. Pruning is undertaken to keep the health of the vines in balance with that of the surrounding plants resulting in lower yields but more resilient vines. Everything is harvested by hand, with the first selection in the vineyard and the second at the cellar.
In the cellar, Anna partially destemmed both the red and white varieties. The Picapolla, Lledoner Blanca, and Roig are cooled overnight before pressing whole-cluster and destemmed fruit together into stainless steel tanks. The Lledoner Negre is placed directly into open-topped oak vats. All fermentations are spontaneous, and in the case of the Lledoner Negre, the maceration is short and gentle with pump-overs to keep the cap wet. Anna prefers concrete eggs for aging her Picapolla and well-seasoned 500L and 20HL oak barrels for her Lledoner.Close