News & Events

Harvesting in the Priorat 2009: Wine Tourists, Wine Festivals and Grape Picking

Vintage evolution Harvesting in the Priorat 2009: Wine Tourists, Wine Festivals and Grape Picking

Recently, a friend of ours Raymond Magourty, was given the opportunity to work the harvest for a Mas Doix, a prestigious wine producer in the town of Poboleda who's recent Parker Points have elevated it in popularity, is located in the Priorat. With his background in wine, and desire to learn more about about the Priorat, the winery took him on as an apprentice during the harvest. Hence over the next few months, Raymond will be chiming every now and then with his day to day experiences working a Cataluna harvest!

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Harvesting in the Priorat 2009: Philosophies Surrounding Grape Picking and Barrel Topping

Vintage evolution

Today we crushed the young vine Garnacha Negra 'Grenache' (approx 10 years) that we picked yesterday. We then transferred the 'must' into tank where it will 'settle' overnight. All grapes from all vineyard parcels at Mas Doix are hand harvested by a small experienced picking crew using secateurs and gathered in plastic stackable 20 litre containers – the size specified by the D.O. of which more another day.

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Harvesting in the Priorat 2009: The Theory Behind "Unnatural Selection"

Vintage evolution

It's no secret that the harvest this year in D.O.C. Priorat is one of the most challenging encountered in recent memory.It's quite common for there to be a day or two of significant rainfall here during July and/or August but this year, as with 2006 & 2007, that didn't happen; there were weeks with high humidity but no rain.

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Harvesting in the Priorat 2009: Differentiating Grape Varieties

Vintage evolution

The day's fly by during a hectic harvest. We start at 7:30 each morning and on my short semi-awakened stroll to the bodega I'm passed by tractors and jeeps with trailers all carrying D.O.Ca. Priorat regulation boxes filled with ripe grapes. Everybody is bringing in fruit now, we've reached the period where the vines are dormant and grapes are not developing any further. There are even a few gents about with hounds and guns as the hunting season has opened for Jabali (Wild boar) and certain game birds. When not overcast the sunrise over the hills with the mountains of Montsant in the frame is spectacular. The weather has been kind apart from a storm last week which left much of the town without phones or internet for the guts of a week, and the picking schedule that we've laid out on a large whiteboard in the office is proceeding close to plan.

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Harvesting in the Priorat: Fermentation I – Maceration Techniques

Vintage evolution Harvesting in the Priorat: Fermentation I – Maceration Techniques

In the EU wine is an alcoholic beverage obtained by fermenting the juice from freshly harvested grapes – the fermentation being undertaken in the region of origin in accordance with tradition and accepted practices. The grapes themselves must contain sugar, which will be converted into alcohol during fermentation. During the growing cycle the vine undergoes the naturally occurring process of photosynthesis, under the auspices of sunlight, to create sugar from water and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) absorbed from the atmosphere. In short the roots absorb water and the leaves absorb CO2 when the right balance of sunshine and warmth is present.

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Harvesting in the Priorat: Fermentation II, Pigeage, 'Lees', and Monitoring Fermentations

Vintage evolution Harvesting in the Priorat: Fermentation II, Pigeage, 'Lees', and Monitoring Fermentations

The harvest at Mas Doix ended today; no more grapes to receive. We're all too tired to celebrate but there is a collective sigh of relief and the palpable anticipation of a return to relatively normal working days. Much of the team finish today; the daily winery tasks will henceforth be carried out by Diane, the enologist, & my good self. We manage fermentations in tank or vat and press those tanks that have finished their time on skins. I'm utterly exhausted and my hands resemble those of a coal-miner who forgot his gloves coming off a long shift – seven weeks of daily exposure to grape juice, wine and machinery have left them worn and heavily stained, especially around the fingernails. This is not unusual and most bodega employees during harvest carry similar battle-scars; some scrubbing with citric and a spell of office-work will sort it all out.

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