Sara & René’s project began thanks to a small inheritance that René received from his grandfather. René really wanted to create a project from the vineyard, without any family pressure, he wanted something of his own. René had been working in Clos Mogador, next to his father, in the winery, since 1992, but he hadn’t got involved in the vineyard part at all. It was a part of the process that he wanted to learn about and work on.
We started to look at vineyards and, finally, we bought a vineyard in the valley of Pesseroles. A neglected vineyard, with 4 badly made terraces, and the upper part, with white grape vines in production. The terraces were transformed into a slope: “I think it must have been the first time in history that this happened” he tells us amused. The idea was to work with old vines, but that vineyard had been neglected for 10 or 15 years, so they had to recover it. It was a huge amount of work in hours, dedication, and patience. They needed to prune, prune… take the last green leaf and prune.
“Because, obviously, when a vine isn’t pruned, it produces wood, and it only produces a new shoot at the end of the growing process… so you start cutting, it produces new shoots, then you cut again below…” he tells us. This way, it took them 4/5 years to rejuvenate the plant. They rejuvenated it enough so that it was productive. It wasn’t very productive, but after all, it was productive.
Sara tells us that plants don’t need to produce too much fruit. In nature, in the forest, where there isn’t any human intervention, a plant only produces a seed to survive and, to avoid having to compete there against the seed, it has two options: the seed can be carried far away from the plant by the wind, or the seed can be covered as a fruit, so that an animal can eat and put it back on the ground some metres or kilometres away from the plant with its excrements. “We love this, but one seed isn’t enough, we need a kg of seeds. Therefore, we need to rejuvenate it (…) It’s like tricking the plant, seducing it so that it produces a lot of fruit”
Obviously, during the first years, they only used the grapes of some of the vines in production, from the upper part that they rented when they bought the plot. Then, as the recovered old vines started to produce grapes, they could increase the number of bottles produced. Now, they are in full production, but it has taken 20 years. The big surprise is that 80/90 % of the vines have survived. It is a very high rate, as they are old vines which were neglected for a very long time.
In the same plot, and always in production, there is the white grape vine. It is a 50/60-year-old vine, one of the oldest white grape vines of the plot. Bellvisos Blanc is the discovery of the white Trepat, a variety which genetically doesn’t have anything to do with the red Trepat, and of which there are just a few hectares between Montsant and Priorat.
In 2002, they planted new Garnatxa, Monestrell, and a few Syrah vines, and in 2008, they started to make the Partida Pedrer wine. At the beginning, it seemed a second wine from young vines. It was difficult to define. After some years of testing, in 2014, after having made the Dido, La Solució Rosa, and after a conversation with Josep Roca during which he asked why we didn’t make rosés in Priorat, René decided to change the situation, and he tried to make a rosé. In 2014 and 2015, both rosés and red wines were made. “In 2016, the red wine I made was very bad, and the rosé was very good! And since 2017, do you know what… let’s only make rosés. But in 2018, I carried out another test with carbonic maceration” he tells us. That was a turning point for both, the red wine, which was lighter and with less colour, and the rosé, which used the most concentrated part of the vine. And they have kept this until now.
Sara and René’s project is a project that they have always felt like an opportunity to investigate: “It’s our R+D” says René. A project in which they have felt free because it is their own project, and they aren’t accountable to anyone.
One of the fundamental pillars on which the project was based since the very beginning, is the fact that they wanted to get very old wines. During the first 10 years, they spent all their profits from a winery consultancy in Ribeira Sacra directly in S&R. And the day they stopped consulting that winery was the day when they started selling the wine. 5/10 years of ageing, small bottles (now it is 7 years) and 15/20 years, the magnum wines. A very important part of their production is bottled in this format.
And another pillar was that they wanted to sell the wines through a different distribution channel, and it is one of the remaining issues on which they are still working. Now, there are twenty high level restaurants with an exclusive use of the project, and the intention is to supply the remaining bottles directly to the final consumer. They are expensive wines, so it is a way to supply the wines at a more affordable price.
Maybe in a near future it will be possible to visit the vineyards and the winery in situ. It is a possibility that they are working on, and it will enable them to show you the beauty of these special vineyards.