BIODIVERSITY Uncategorised @en



When we talk about agricultural systems, first we talk about modified systems in which we simplify nature to achieve our goal: a particular crop. In a ripe, balanced ecosystem, we find different species (trees, bushes, plants) which complement and enrich each other. They work together to ensure the balance: leaves fall, they decompose, and they turn into organic matter. Each one of the elements that make up this ecosystem has a necessary role for its good development. When we want to produce a particular crop like, in our case, vines, we strip an ecosystem of a big part of its components to focus on the plant which interests us, the vine.

Therefore, it is an unbalanced system which needs to be managed as well as possible in order to get our most precious asset: a good wine harvest.
There are many ways to redirect this imbalance. One way would be to use systemic treatments, such as fertilisers, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides… Another way would be the possibility to treat the crops organically, although it comes from the same philosophy: treat the imbalance with a product, which is now organic, that corrects it.

However, there is a third option: chose to correct the imbalance by trying to produce health. It is when we talk about regenerating soils, vegetation covers, biodiversity, etc. The purpose is to provide the plants with all the necessary tools to be nourished healthily so that the fruit that we get and the products that we make are healthy too.

As Eugenio Gras (a pioneer in the field of permaculture in Mexico) said: We do not perform miracles. We understand what happens. We observe our crop, we read its performance, and we decide what we can do to redirect it. The idea is always the same: work with preventive treatments, and specially act on the soil, which will be responsible for providing the plant with quality nutrients, water and minerals. For example, there is the fact of using horsetail to prevent fungus from going up reaching the plant and make them stay on the ground.

We make our system stronger so that there are as few symptoms and illnesses as possible… like with the human body, Sara Pérez says. Having a healthy plant has nothing to do with the medicines that it takes, but with how it is nourished, with who/what it is with, with how it grows (it has to do with the soil and the environment).

Restore the biological balance is something basic, and it allows us to not talk about plagues, diseases and bad management indicators of the crop and/or the plant. A bigger or smaller attack from pathogens (insects, fungus, diseases…) always depends on the nutritional state of the plants (Francis Chaboussou – Trophobiosis Theory)
This approach produces a series of actions to keep an appropriate level of the emotional, physical, psychological and nutritional health of the plant. Obviously, there are things that we cannot control, but we can make our plants stronger so that they can fight against some external agents which may attack them.

To sum up, plants, like human beings, when their nourishment, education, cultural diversity and relationships are better, they are more likely to have a richer and healthier life.


Uncategorised @en



We bring together Elisabet Anguera (Agricultural of Corbera d’Ebre), Joan Asens (Orto Vins) and Jordi Vidal (La Conreria d’Escaladei) alumni of the first promotions of the School of Viticulture and Enology of Falset. Memories, anecdotes… Below we leave a video-summary of the meeting that took place at the same school on March 2.

Elisabet, Joan, Jordi. Thank you so much for your time.

Rancis Uncategorised @en VINS OXIDATIUS



Today, we went to visit René Barbier, from Clos Mogador. The father. The founder. He has been now in Priorat for many days, but he still says he does not make part of the history of Priorat. We do not agree with him, because he is a big part of it, a part of its most recent history, but a part of its history after all.
He talked with us about rancio wines… We asked him if he wanted to collaborate with our blog, and he gladly agreed to do it: “I’ll do anything for Sara,” he told us.

And the first thing he did was to introduce us to the society Arrels del Priorat, a project which started approximately during the ‘90s to recover and promote rancio wines from Priorat (he put them on sale in internationally known places, like Harrods in London, or Galeries Lafayette in Paris). A project that he is currently managing with Jaume Balaguer (winery Balaguer i Cabré) in a small winery in Gratallops, and which has made him learn first-hand about the history of rancio wines from our region, from each town and from each house… “The history of a time that has to come back,” as he says. Arrels has allowed him to talk with the farmers who still have an old barrel at home, and who have let the old times behind, even though they still remember them.

However, he recognised that it has been a project which has required them a big investment without any kind of repayment. A bottomless pit.

When he told us about rancio wines, he explained to us that “they are the tip of the iceberg of a forgotten world which I think will come back”. Arrels gave him the opportunity to select some rancio wines (12 in total from 12 different towns) and, with a representative drawing of each house done by Isabel, promote them. He wanted to place them in the best places in the world… but he was unsuccessful. Rancio wines are a product which needs to be put into a context, and which also has to be explained in order to understand it and fully appreciate it. The name is the first difficulty. Here, we are very clear about what we are talking about. However, internationally, wines like sherry or Vin Jaune are known… but not rancio wine. “It is an issue we all should think about,” he said.

He told us that rancio wine, apart from being a very local production, is also explained like a way of using the product, which in this case is the wine, as a whole. “There is a lot of imagination, and it is a heritage that farmers have managed to keep and transmit until now”. We set the history of these wines back in the agricultural lands from 1800 backwards, because forwards, in more recent times, the issue gets complicated. But before, rancio wines had a great logic. “All the work was done with animals, and the harvest was extended for more than 3 months…” “…we started next to the river, (…) from white wines. And it is not nonsense (…) it is very fresh. From the river we went up, that is to say, that a bit higher there were consumer wines, and they were fresh, a quality product. They always tasted good, because if they didn’t, they were vinegar, and if they were not vinegar, they were rancio wines (…) And November/December came, their drying/raisining process began, and sweet wines were made…”
They used the harvest in every possible way, and the sale was also adapted. We remembered the wineries in the cities, and he specifically remembered that, when he was young, there were wineries with their own rancio wine, their own barrels, their own fresh wines, sweet wines… “It was what corresponded to the grape harvest” “After a whole life in Priorat, you realise that things were not so badly done after all…” he added, amused.

Then, he compared wines with cheese, any kind of cheese that existed before, which was also a consumer product…. but it was slowly simplified, the different kinds of cheese were unified, and finally there were only 4 of them remaining. Now, we diversify again… and we cannot blame globalisation but economy for it. He talked about “economic engineering”. Looking for profitability, some of the richness of diversity has been lost. “It is like wanting to produce one wine only in the entire region of Priorat, in the cooperatives (…) I will be in trouble again (he laughs), but in fact, what they should have done is to produce the wines for the farmers and be an intermediary in order to promote this general globalisation, like with cheese (…)”.

However, he remembered that, at that time, people went to find the grapes with animals. The garnachas arrived at the cellar at 17 ºC, and the wine “needed time to yield”. “They were not scared like us”. They put the wine inside the barrel of rancio wine because it was not clear for them. There, inside the barrel, the amount of volatile compounds was reduced… the acids changed… the taste changed. It was turned into a rancio wine. What they needed to take into account was that they needed 3 litters of wine to produce 1 litter of rancio wine, because they worked with local chestnut wood. (Chestnut wood and rancio wine, an essential combination, he indicated). The work of the cooper was essential, because the barrels were in the attic, and with the dry weather that we have here, it meant having more wine and taking great care of the barrels. “If you were a cooper, you had to be everything”.

However, they obtained a unique product, a product which has already influenced the local cuisine. A symbol of our gastronomic identity. A very important product for local cuisine, either as a basis or as an accompaniment to a desert… like, for example, the nuts desert known as les postres de músic.

Nevertheless, now that we have worked with this product, we realised that it pairs perfectly well with anchovies and artichokes (which are always so difficult).

And rancio wines were transmitted from parents to their children (it was that family recipe inherited over time). That wisdom that we appreciate so much in cultures different from ours, but that we also have.

Therefore, wen René convincingly told us that this history that we talk about has to come back, it is because, behind rancio wines, there is everything a territory wants: personality, tradition…

Profitability maybe is not as profitable when we lose this tradition and personality. “It is not globalisation that spoils things, but our way to understand it (…) You would need to flatten Priorat in order to be as profitable as other regions (…)”.

He thanks the project Arrels del Priorat for the fact of understanding the product, although he recognises that, over time, the essence has been lost. “Since modernisation, we haven’t worked the periods of the vineyard (…). In fact, we have fed this product with large amounts of wine (…)”. Now, lighter and more still rancio wines are being produced… But it is, anyway, a meeting point… We have lost the ability to adapt that our ancestors had, the ability to adapt to different weather conditions and periods of the vineyard. We have lost varieties which adapted to different territories… “Over time, we have become better oenologists, but worse vine growers. In fact, not worse, but we have tried to simplify, and when you want to simplify, you finally lose your identity”.

Rancio wine does not only have the achievement of the product itself, but also the achievement of continuing tradition. For this reason, for the project Arrels del Priorat, René chose a partner from Priorat, because “I am not the tradition of Priorat. I might be a wine tradition, but not from Priorat, although my grandfather and my great-grandfather produced a rancio wine from Priorat, but only as merchants”. The big difference is doing it as a vine grower, and knowing that rancio wine corresponds to a period of the vineyard, to a moment in time and to a space, making it an exceptional product which influences the cuisine, the people, the traditions…

He compared it with biodynamics. He did not say ecology, “because ecology will be obligatory, but we will get slowly to biodynamics,” he said, convinced. The consumer increasingly demands the traceability of the products. Mas Martinet, as well as Clos Mogador, could sell what they produce to a German engineer, and if we bought it from them, we would be convinced that the product is good, and that it is worth the price they ask for it.

Finally, he proposed to take an approach with respect to Priorat. Because, although it is true that, before, rancio wines were produced everywhere,““as a wine, rancio wine from Priorat has a very big personality”.

Thank you very much, René, for your willing to share.

THE ORIGINS Uncategorised @en



In 1983, the president of the Catalonia Wine Institute (INCAVI), Jaume Ciurana, achieved the signature of an agreement with the school Sant Pau to provide an official wine analysis service, which was accountable to the Oenological Station (l’Estació Enològica) of Reus, and a technical consultancy service for the cooperatives in Terra Alta, Ribera d’Ebre and Priorat. Therefore, the Catalonia Wine Institute (INCAVI), besides making the extension of a new speciality possible, which was the advanced/second-degree vocational/professional training (Certificate of Higher Education) in vine growing and oenology, it gave financial support, contributing with a part of our salaries for my dedication as a technical adviser of the three previously mentioned regions, and for our analysis service.

My job as the cooperatives adviser was to give talks to guide them in making higher quality wines and lead them towards commercialisation. These actions gave results during the three or four years that I worked doing them.
Between 1983 and 1985, I surveyed the problems and opinions from the boards of the cooperatives of the three regions. There were two second-degree cooperatives, the Priorat and the Baix Priorat cooperatives.
The Baix Priorat cooperative (the DO Montsant did not exist at that time) was centralised in the Falset cooperative, and they had a big problem. They had sold a lorry of bottled wine 2 or 3 years before, and there was no way of collecting the money. In every meeting they had, the issue of the debt came up, and all of them were very worried. Finally, I proposed them to give me the responsibility of collecting the money. After many journeys to Barcelona, 56 phone calls (I wrote it down), and a “threat” of publishing it with names in the press if they did not pay, finally the cooperative recovered the entire debt.

On another occasion, the president of the Tarragona Regional Council gave a speech in Torroja del Priorat, where he emphasised that the Regional Council had money for carrying out projects if a really interesting one was submitted. That promise publicly made by the president of the Regional Council had validity, and I thought that it was worth keeping that “super promise” for a good occasion. That good occasion came soon…
Around that time, the Wine Fair of Priorat was held (it was a fair which was organised every year in a different town), and that year the fair was in Porrera. Among other events, there was a meeting with all the cooperatives. It was held in the church, and there was the president of the Catalonia Wine Institute (INCAVI), Jaume Ciurana, the director of the Oenological Station (l’Estació Enològica) of Reus, Mr. Vidal i Barraquer, all the presidents of the different cooperatives in Priorat with their respective boards, and many citizens from Priorat. In his speech, Jaume Ciurana quoted the promise made by the president of the Tarragona Regional Council a few days before in Torroja about the “energy fee”, which was money that came from the Ascó nuclear power for the towns/villages near the power plant.
When the speeches were done, we had another meeting with Jaume Ciurana, all the cooperatives representatives and me. Jaume repeated the issue of the money to carry out a positive project for Priorat. Many things were proposed, but any viable one. When the meeting ended, we were alone, the two of us, and I told Jaume:
– Look, Jaume, during the meeting I had the impression that you had tied all the presidents’ hands behind their back, like if you had pulled out a wad of banknotes, and putting the banknotes in front of them, you were telling them: “Take them, take them!” And, of course, they could not take them because their hands were tied.
– Why are you telling me this? – Jaume said.
– Because they don’t give the money now. They must do a project on which they all agree, and this is something they will never do by themselves.
– Do it yourself, you have my permission. For me, the objective is clear. In Priorat, there has been a second-degree cooperative for a long time, and each town/village has an old cooperative without modern resources. This is the project, but do we need to modernise the nine existing cooperatives? Do we need to create one? Or two? This is your work now. You can start now if you want. – He answered.
As the meetings held in the cooperatives were a nightmare, because everyone wanted to be right, and they did not focus on the objective of the meeting, it dragged on and finally we did not decide anything, which scared me a lot. I thought about it for a while, and I concluded that all decisions had to be taken in three meetings, and that every meeting could not last more than two hours.

1st meeting. Point: Decide how many wineries needed to be built: one, two, or remodel the existing winery in each one of the nine towns/villages.
Answer from the presidents: The decision taken unanimously was to build only one winery for the entire region of Priorat.
Now the presidents had to present it in the meetings held in each town/village and bring a summary of the agreement for the next meeting.

2nd meeting. 1st point: Submit, in writing, the answer of each cooperative, if they agreed or not to build only one winery for the entire region of Priorat, and also to share the transport of the grapes equally between all the members.
The answer was affirmative. Therefore, the first point was approved.
2nd point: Decide in which town/village the communal winery should be located.
This was a bit thorny issue, there were many comments around each town/village. Everyone wanted to prove that his/her town/village was the most appropriate for the winery. I expected the presidents meeting, where this point had to be decided, to be a chaos, and I thought we would finish with an endless discussion. For this reason, I calculated in advance the cost of transport, in 9 different situations, pretending that the winery was located in each town/village, from the distances between the towns/villages and the kilos of production of each one. The table showed that transport would be cheaper if the winery were built in Gratallops. The meeting lasted an hour and a half, and everyone agreed, it was obvious!
Result of the presidents meeting: Gratallops, location of the Regional Winery.
Result of the cooperatives meetings: Gratallops, location of the Regional Winery. Proposal accepted!

3rd meeting. Point: The Gratallops Cooperative must give its current winery to build the new Regional Winery.
Answer from the Gratallops Cooperative: The cooperative accepts it, and it gives its building to build the new winery.

From that moment, I started to write the project, and I asked architect Hermengild Pujades, related to Bellmunt del Priorat, to draw a sketch of the new winery building in order to attach it to my project and submit it to the Catalonia Wine Institute (INCAVI) so that the Institute could carry it out.
I am convinced that this winery has been the cornerstone to improve the quality of the wines from the Regional Cooperative of the DO Priorat, and together with the wines that the producers of the “Closos” started, it was the beginning of a change towards a worldwide recognition of Priorat as a specific area of quality wines.
Again, we must thank Jaume Ciurana for his interest in improving the region of Priorat.

Josep Lluís Pérez
Mas Martinet

THE ORIGINS Uncategorised @en



And today, on 8th March, our humble tribute to the working woman. We chose a conversation between two women: Sara Pérez, our Sara, and an incredible woman, Maria Carme Simó, from Bellmunt. She is, first of all, a farmer, but she was also president of the CIT (Tourist Initiative Centre), mayor of Bellmunt del Priorat, and president of the Gratallops Cooperative. Determined, with a strong character and full of humility.
The scene: her house, her dining room. The background: the vineyard, the plot. She admits that she likes it, and although now she gets very tired, she still goes there to do the pruning, green pruning, the first fertilisation, the first and the only one (the vine well sprayed, from top to bottom), and then the grapes harvesting.
76 years old, and you can notice her strength and simplicity. She shows tenderness and a great enthusiasm. When we talk about her career, she seems surprised, like she did not choose it, but she did choose it, “because they could have left, but they stayed”. Yes, they were some of those who stayed to work the land, like their grandparents and great-grandparents. Without any female role model, she lost her mother when she was 8 years old. She went on with her life, and she finished working in the fields, like “her father, her uncles and aunts, everyone… the entire family”. And when Sara asks her if she was the only woman, she answers yes, of course. All of them were men, but she was comfortable, so she stayed there, with them, at the top of the hierarchical structures.
The farmer Maria Carme has vines, olive trees, hazel trees, and a couple of almond trees. The task she prefers is pruning, and she does not know why. “I like pruning, even though the vines are old and ugly. (…) Some of them are very ugly. Others are not ugly, they are beautiful and big, like this”. She asks Sara: “You are a technician, (…) Why? Because they had to plant them in a single line…” She tells us that his godfather planted them, and he planted them when he had some money, because they did not go to the bank to find money. But the father did not plant any vine. This means that her vines must be more than 100 years old, but they have never been analysed to be sure of it, logically… She has a vineyard, all the grapes of which are Garnacha, and a very fertile land with a lot of grass in spring: “Every season, there is a different kind of grass. Now, it is blue, now there are small yellow flowers, white flowers, some buds, and finally more yellow and white flowers (…) And I don’t see the vines!”
Sara asks her if there is generational replacement, and she says: “I have my neighbour, a young boy who studied in Falset and Tarragona”. However, she also talks to us about his nephew, who has planted vines, and about other less young people like the boy next to her, who are still young after all. These people have been buying and working estates. In Bellmunt, at least, not so many estates have disappeared.
To talk about the determined Maria Carme, we go back to the old Priorat, where all the farmers were members of the cooperative and “cooperatives were having a difficult time, they didn’t sell the wine (…) and farmers went their own way”, says Maria Carme. A chief executive from Madrid “in times of Franco” thought that Priorat deserved to be considered, and the CIT (Tourist Initiative Centre) was created, a kind of tourism office dedicated to make Priorat known everywhere. It was invited to trade shows around Spain, and Carme was elected president soon after its foundation. She was the president for 25 years. Sara asks her what they promoted, and she, amused, answers “smoke”. Because in Priorat there were not restaurants or accommodation yet. In fact, if the area was known, it was as a wine region, not as a touristic destination. Therefore, “It was something rather advanced for that time, something that maybe didn’t work that much, but…” mentions Sara.
Democracy came, municipal elections for the different councils were held, and Maria Carme was elected mayor of Bellmunt in the first elections. In fact, when Sara asks her “How did you come up with the idea of becoming mayor?” she answers, as expected: “The idea of being mayor didn’t come to my mind”. It came to her by chance, and she could have said no, but she didn’t, and she dared to be mayor in a moment when there were only 7 female mayors in Catalonia.
A bit later, she was elected president of the Gratallops Cooperative. Again, they proposed it to her, it was not her idea. She also accepted this time; she did not think about saying no. She accepted, and she was president in a very difficult moment for cooperatives. We must remind that “farmers went their own way”. In fact, Maria Carme was on the board of the Bellmunt Cooperative, but they decided to distance themselves and leave the regional cooperative, and it was then that she went to the Gratallops Cooperative. The Bellmunt Cooperative did not prosper; as a matter of fact, it disappeared. An intuition? She does not know, but there must be something.
This career gave her recognition for her work and for the fact of being a woman, and as such, she was invited to many events. She talks about gigs that she has always tried to avoid, because “What can I say? What can people say about me?” She has always found excuses to not to go to any event: “A lot of work and many problems”. Sara talks about her being an example, and she admits that maybe she is one, but she adds that “I didn’t ask for it”. She does not remember everything she brought to the cooperative and its way of working. She is aware that she changed things, there was a before and an after. She gives Jaume Ciurana, who was the president of the Catalonia Wine Institute (INCAVI) at that time, credit for the changes. He was a person who loved Priorat and wine, oenologist and from the region, and he wanted to change things: “To sell the wine, things must be done well, and we must take care of the grapes from the moment we plant them until the wine is sold”. They went to the different cooperatives repeating the same speech, and “people listened to them and they thought it was music to their ears”. We need to think that there was no bottling at that time, Escaladei was the only winery that bottled. It was the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s. She tells us that “they came with your father, René Barbier and all those, because yes, people paid well for the grapes, and many people left the cooperative because they didn’t collect money in the cooperative”. The wine had to be sold, but as Maria Carme’s father said: “People have to sell, but they also have to collect money”.
She did many things as president. First of all, she was advised by the Cooperatives Federation (Federació de Cooperatives), which means that she accepted that she did not know everything. Then, and maybe it is the most important thing, she hired a manager. “Because there must be a manager. A farmer doesn’t need to know or spend the whole day there, because he/she has work to do in the plot, so he/she can’t spend the whole day there, in an office”. Little by little, the cooperative progressed, and “now we collect money every month”. She says it as if it was something important because, in fact, it is.
Maria Carme: “Had it not been for us, this group of people. Neither René Barbier, nor Àlvaro Palacios or Carlos Pastrana would have found anything if the cooperative didn’t exist. Faced with the evidence, farmers had to do things well. People from other places had to come here to make them understand, because the locals didn’t believe them”.
Sara: “This has happened in many places, but it also has something to do with tiredness, with seeing things from the inside, when you have struggled, when you have worked, and you don’t progress. You don’t see it, they tell you, and you don’t see it, you don’t do it. Then, someone does it, and you say: ‘Ah, maybe’. But… right? We need to learn. It is what you say… we don’t know about it…”
Maria Carme: “Then, some visionaries that must have believed us or I don’t know what”.
Sara: “You saw it before, but you had an intuition, because you struggled before anything was evident”.

It is curious that they were not aware of the struggle, of everything they defended and all the work they did to keep…. but it is true that, from the cooperative, a good job was done. From the cooperative, and also from Assumpció Peyra from Escaladei, Magdalena from Masia Barril (the winery did not bottle, but it was present in every trade show to defend wines from Priorat), August from Celler Cecilio, and many other people who believed in Priorat when it was nothing, among whom there was “that chief executive… What was his name? (…) If he saw it, he would be astonished, poor man. Because that man saw it too”.
We ask her if she would have done something in a different way: “No, I don’t think so. Maybe I don’t think too far ahead, and now, even less. Now I think of today, because every day brings me something different,” she says, very convinced.
Sara asks her if she drinks wine, and she tells us: “A little, on Sundays” with the family, with her sisters. She likes it, and she always has two bottles in the kitchen, but she only drinks wine on Sundays. She mainly gives wine, as Jaume Ciurana said and always remembers.
And as expected, Sara must ask about rancio wines: “And rancio wines? Have you ever made any rancio wine?” A barrel of rancio wine that her father started, a rancio wine from white wine (because rancio wines from red wine go bad). “And do you drink that rancio wine?” Sara asks her. “Yes, I like it, with something sweet. I like to drink it when I eat something sweet”. We try it, and we made a toast. Rancio wine with pastries, such a luxury!
Thank you, Maria Carme. It has been a pleasure talking with you and talking about everything you represent.






I come from the south, from a warm territory, a territory rich in history.

I was ten years old when I tried a ranci wine for the first time. I went with my father to a meeting with Assumpció Peyra from Escaladei. From the physical and emotional height of childhood, the wine cellar looked old, humid, dark and cold, and the lively discussions between Assumpció and my father were like aggressive elements. I was scared and too bored. After a while, which felt like an eternity, Assumpció invited us to visit la Sala dels Àngels (“the Angels Room”). It was an exciting space, even older than the rest of the wine cellar, and which emitted the emanations and scents from other generations: the room of rancio wines. She let me try a barrel of 1964, a sweet ranci wine. I fell in love with it, it took my fear away, it cheered me up, and it made me feel like home, protected.

I thought that, if one day I was going to be in the wine production business, I would make a wine like that one.

In the summer of 1995, already working in Mas Martinet and helping my father, I stayed for some months in the Peralada Castle preparing the new wine laboratory. During the long summer afternoons of July, I went for a walk around the vineyards of Pau, Garriguella and nearby just to not lose contact with a nature that, for me, was necessary and addictive. I went to visit a peasant farmer with whom I talked about life, about the profession and about memory, and the last day of my stay in Empordà, he came to say goodbye to me with a special bottle from his winery.

It was a sweet rancio wine. Once again, I felt protected, caressed by many generations. I felt like home.

I remembered the promise made in Escaladei in November of 1982. Then, that September of 1995, the Martinet Ranci Dolç was born, but I wasn’t aware of it yet.

Almost 20 years have gone by to show us, maybe our less representative wine as a wine company, but which carries the soul and the history of Priorat.

Rancio wines are wines made to receive, to thank, to share. We put them on the table for Festa Major, for harvests celebrations, for the birth of a child, and we can enjoy them because many generations have taken care of that first barrel.

Being successors of a long history which represents us makes us feel more rooted and able to thank and pay tribute to those generations that have made it possible for us to be here today.

Sara Pérez
Mas Martinet