The village of Porrera is located in the southwestern corner of the Priorat and is the largest of the zone’s […]Keep Reading
The village of Porrera is located in the southwestern corner of the Priorat and is the largest of the zone’s 12 villages. Written records of a town (Valporrieram) in this location date to the beginning of the 12th century, and the succeeding years encompass a long tradition of anti-clerical and anti-authoritarian local spirit – so much so that the town has been destroyed three times by invading forces. Despite these setbacks, Porrera continued to thrive, especially with the Priorat’s rebirth as a major wine-producing area. Despite being on the DOQ’s southern border, Porrera is considered a more temperate area due to its location in the valley formed by the river Cortiella which forms a break in the surrounding mountains and the preponderance of north-facing vineyards sites.
Joan Sangenís is descended from eight generations of unruly locals who farmed various crops in Porrera. His family first started making wine in 1814, and until 1996, they sold their wines in bulk to the village residents and the local cooperative. Joan’s parents Jaume and Mercé, who both still tend to the family’s vines, purchased Mas d’En Compte in 1988, greatly expanding their vineyard land. Along with this purchase came an ancient, ruined house in the village they renovated, intending to bottle their own wines. With much of their newly purchased vines being poorly maintained, they began to resuscitate them, replanting and awaiting the return of their son, Joan, who was finishing his studies in enology. Upon his return to Porrera in 1996, Celler Cal Pla was born.
The Sangenís family farms 20 hectares of vines located around Porrera. Their oldest vines of Garnatxa Negra and Carinyena are located in the famed Mas d’En Caçador vineyard, arguably the village’s Grand Cru. The remaining vines vary in age from 15 to 80 years old. Farming is done organically, which may sound easy in such a warm and dry climate until you see the steepness of some of their sites – here, any kind of farming is arduous. In addition to Garnatxa Negra and Carinyena, the estate grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnatxa Blanca, Xarel.lo, Picapoll Blanca, Macabeu, and Moscatel.
After harvesting the grapes by hand into small crates, they are brought to the cellar, where they are sorted. The white wines see a short pre-fermentation maceration on the skins before pressing and fermentation in stainless steel tanks, followed by aging in new French oak barrels. The red wines, also fermented in tank, see a long maceration lasting over 30 days. Once the primary fermentation is complete, the wines are aged in concrete or French and Hungarian oak barrels and foudres. Their untidy cellar looks like a museum to winemaking of the past and reflects the authenticity and charm of the Sangenís family and their wines.