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Posts Tagged ‘mines’

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Wine is fascinating, well I think so, and I have often been asked why I bother to write about it as I am not ‘an expert’.

Well I do so for several reasons actually, apart from the obvious I find it rather educational. But reasons well:-

First): is to write about wine from a “duffers” view-point. As someone who knows nothing about it except they like to drink it. None of the snobbery that goes with some writers is here, I tell you exactly what the vinters tell me.

Secondly) I have found that each Celler is different in the way it produces wine. If you add to this it’s history and tradition then you have fond a Celler which brings an individual taste to the wines produced there.

Thirdly) The care, sheer joy of the Vinaters in what they are doing and a ‘want’ to share their wines and methods with the rest of us. To listen to these experts talk about how they produce their wine, including their family history is the most gratifying thing a writer could wish for. I have been made most welcome by everyone on my visits and been taught a lot about wine, this Celler was no exception.

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I have visited quite a few Cellers in the region around my home, but this particular Celler is rather intriguing.  It is tucked quietly away behind Falset which is the heart and control centre of the Montsant and Priorat DO regions. Unless you knew exactly where to look, you would never find this little mine of a vineyard. Here they grow grapes in several types of soil each field a different grape giving a different taste, and body to their wines.

I first met Toni on his stand at the Mora la’Nova Fira last October, a young man who has studied hard, loves his job and knows his wines. He is the latest vintner in a long family tradition which started with his great, great, great, great-grandfather a Doctor, in 1827. After the devastating vine blight of the 1920’s, his great, great-grandmother Maria Pau and her two daughters re-started growing vines. The wine produced then was mainly red and of one blend, however, today is a much different story.

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Toni has worked hard to reclaim more of the fields from the mountain, clearing and in some cases, replanting the terraces. These are south-west facing but each field has different soil. As we walked towards the top of the mountain we crossed a small rickety bridge which linked the lower and upper terraces when walking. Here I could see the different terane, in some  fields the soil was clay in others it was a cross between sand and grit whilst the last soil type had a definite mineral feel.  There are various mineral mines around the area which give vines grown in this type of soil a slightly peppery aftertaste but they also lean towards a more bodied red wine.

Walking on ever upwards towards the top of this little mountain, I could see the hard work Toni had put into this vineyard and I do mean hard.  Each terrace is wide enough for a man to walk comfortably between the rows but there is no room for a mechanical picker. Everything here is done by hand and some of the vines are years old grown in the old way, and Toni is very proud of the history that goes with each variety.

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The Celler itself is small with only two stainless steel vats the others in true tradition are concrete. Once the wine is made it is matured in French Oak barrels which add to the wines flavour.

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Well you cannot find a more diverse selection which comes from one Celler than here. There are 5 different reds and Rose.  Because of the ground they are grown in each wine has its own taste, and story to tell the drinker.  So I will start with the Rose:

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Besides making his own wine which is made totally by hand and produces around 50,000 bottles of excellent red wines, Toni has been in partnership with Pep and Patri since 2011. Since 2010 Pep and Patri have rented part of the celler for their wine making.  But the wine that they and Toni make together comes from the mineral grown vines, which gives this wine it’s peppery after taste resulting in a very smooth and very desirable and  to coin a phrase ‘lip smacking’ red.

 

These wines are really worth discovering they say more about the talent of this man and his colleagues than anything you could write. Toni tends his vines with the love and passion of a true Vinater, tradition is all, when try them you will begin to understand the hard work that goes into producing such nectar.

You can contact Toni on www.pascona.com  give them a call then you can say you have tasted some of the best Montsant wines going you will not be dissapointed.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

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Hidden away in the mountains behind us is the village of Bellmunt, it is here that the lead mines are to be found. But what brought us there was, as always, wine.  We were looking for a certain vineyard but as usual had lost our way and found ourselves in the mine’s car park.

As we sat deciding what to do next several big beefy bikers arrived took off their helmets and headed into the mines cultural centre. Well we thought, why not, so as we taking our cue we decided to be nosey and take a look. The car park is fairly large but there is another one just round the corner, where you come out of the mines but as we discovered later it is an up hill walk of about 10minutes.

However, what greets you and makes quite  an impression is the pit wheel. Now standing proud, erect, and silent, it  looks out over the mine and visitors alike, resting, reliving its memories, but still steeped in the history of both mine and village alike.

There were many lead mines in the area, which were the main source of employment up until the 20th century when they were closed.  As is the norm with Catalunia, they are very proud of their history and achievements since the Civil War that in 1999 they reopened the mine as a museum.  One of the out buildings has been transformed into the Welcome Hall. Here there are exhibits of the minerals with a ‘walk through history’ which includes pictures of village life and inscriptions.  After this but before you enter the mines you cross the courtyard to see a film depicting the mine in its true light,  part of the village, its life and local history.

Then you go down the mine to the first level around 35 mtrs below ground, but no lift takes you it’s a stairway through the rock.  Before you enter you are given a hard-hat and it is necessary. The mine has 18 levels (more than 450 metres deep) but only the first level is accessible. However, it does give a picture of what it was like to work down there making it a very spectacular place, if you don’t mind being underground. These mines are ancient there has been mining in the Bellmunt area since 9-10th century so history abounds here.

Having said this, apart from the actual entrance which is a flight of steps down 37mtrs, with a low roof – yes I was wearing a hard hat, yes it is compulsory and yes I did bang my head 3 times actually (my fault too busy looking) – it is well worth the visit.

 

The impression I had when we reached the level was of space. The ceilings are really high with old seams running off just like being a large rabbit down a warren.

Here and there you will find a tableau depicting workers in the mine one of which is quite surreal. We had turned a corner and there to the right of us was the track with this figure pushing a truck, and just for a moment I really thought he was alive even the man waiting at the lift gave me the same impression spooky.

However, writing about it cannot really do justice to the atmosphere or feeling you get when down there. It is peaceful, why I cannot explain, but I felt neither claustrophobic nor  concerned only very very interested in where I was and the tour guide was very informative.  The only thing I can say is this.  If you are ever lucky enough to be in this area this is a must do visit.  Soak up the atmosphere, see how they lived and worked, marvel at the ore tunnels high above, see exposed crystals but above all remember they did all this by hand.  Oh and say hello to the guy pushing the truck.

You can visit the mines : Saturdays from 11.00 , 12.30 and 16.00. Sundays 11.00, 12.30. If you are staying in Falset the tourist office can book your visit tel +34 977 831 701.  For those of you looking for nice holiday apartments overlooking the river then contact Dena @Ebroapartments

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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