A life in the urban center of Catalonia behind a pharmacist’s desk seems a far way off from the ten hectares of biodynamic+organic vineyards in the mountainous Alt. Pénedes of northeastern Spain – but this is Amós Bañeres’s story. In 2014 he converted his life into the one led by the vinyeron. Els Vinyerons is a joint venture between Amós and Alex Ruíz whose own family is a traditional winemaking family in what is largely Cava country. The original motivation behind this project was to create affordable and classically more “approachable” natural wines of the northeast: wild-fermented, unfined, unfiltered, non-SO2-ed bottles that speak to what is so unique about this terroir with its, among other things, sandy loam, limestone, and calcareous soils strewn with fossilized oysters. Part of the way in which they facilitate this “approachability” on the palate – i.e. how their wines are reminiscent of some “classic” familiarity – is by saving vintages and blending the younger vintage with its one-year-aged-in-old-French-Oak counterpart, imparting a bit of structure and richness to what is otherwise young and perhaps overeager. Their bottlings are named after insects found at the different vineyard sites – Pregadeu, their Grower Cava, means Praying Mantis.
Tasting: This is what we’ve been calling “Grower Cava” from Els Vinyerons of northeast Spain’s Alt. Penedes region. There aren’t a lot of serious winemakers making traditional cava, which is a shame because this bottle in particular shows just how gorgeous the underrated style of sparkling wine can be when given some thought and consideration. The bubble is tight and crisp, and that extra lees contact provides a creamy richness that is lost in a lot of conventional cava. On the palate, bright lemon custard, brioche, and fresh squeezed grapefruit. Serve cold.
Vinification: 100% Xarel-lo hand-harvested from 13-83 year-old vines grown in fossilized limestone soils in DO Alt. Penedes. The grapes are directly-pressed and spontaneous fermentation with ambient yeasts (no temp. control) takes place in stainless steel tanks but is bottled uncompleted, typical of the ancestral method. Disgorged September 2019 and bottled unfined, unfiltered, with no additional SO2.