After working for some time at several Catalan vineyards while teaching enology at the local university, the time had come for Oriol to set up his own project: rejuvenating the ancient coastal vineyards of Alella so that he could start to produce an excellent range of natural wines heavily influenced by the Mediterranean Sea and mountains in an attempt to express the natural beauty of the area. His first commercial vintage was 2011.
His non-interventional ideals do not stop in the field. Fermentation is also performed naturally, with wild yeast taking on the function, and he does not interfere with the must. He only uses steel vats, amphora and neutral French oak barrels, and limits the addition of sulphur to small amounts during the bottling process, if necessary. Furthermore, the wines are left unfiltered and unfined, without the use of cold stabilisation.
The majority of wines are made using grapes that are fermented together by the vineyard. One of his wines, La Prats, is rosé in colour due to the more than 30 grape varieties – red and white – used for the cuvée. It is this sheer diversity of grapes used in each cuvée that determine the colour of the wine, of which he produces red, white and rosé.
Judging by the critical success of Oriol Artigas’s wine production in Cataluña, one might be forgiven for assuming that wine had always been his passion. But like many other organic wine producers, the call to the vineyard was one heard later in life, after starting out wanting to be a chemist. It was only after he worked on a harvest in Penedes that winemaking won its place as the main focus in Oriol’s life, prompting him to study winemaking and eventually move his experimentation out of the lab and into the field.
His over-arching philosophy is to “cultivate the vineyards in the most natural and least interventionist way possible, to allow the grapes to express in the most intense way the landscape from which they come.”Follow Oriol Artigas
Oriol’s 7.5 hectares of vines in Vilassar de Dalt, his hometown, are left to grow as naturally as possible. He uses the lunar calendar to plan production, pruning his vines only very minimally and allowing nature to curate the soil between the plants. As such, wild vegetation has sprung up around his vines, allowing them to grow freely in a natural environment.
Alella has been used since the Roman era for wine production, but the demand for seaside property shrank the size of the growing area down to 220 hectares, making it one of the smallest DOs in the Spanish state. But what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in quality.
Oriol’s ancient vineyards of native vines are largely based on granite rock, known locally as Sauló, at between 100 and 350 metres elevation. This results in wines often rich in minerality, conjuring aromas that will take you all the way to the Mediterranean.
To taste Oriol’s excellent selection of wines is to take a trip not only to some of the most exciting examples of the terroir of Catalonia but also back in time, through the traditional methods of wine production used, and enjoyed, for thousands of years.Oriol Artigas Location