Monday, May 6, 2013

Magical valley location for nearby winery


Continuing our grape theme we took our visitors to a local vineyard, Mas Estela. This was easier said than done, involving a winding drive through the narrow back streets of La Selva del Mar and then along an even narrower farm track to the vineyard. With steep drop-offs to one side and no where to pull over, we were glad not to encounter anyone coming the other way. But what an incredible location. Our first sight of the vines rising up the mountain and the old stone house took our breath away.

We were greeted by four Jack Russells spanning four generations, and Nuria the owner of the vineyard along with her husband. She explained that they had lived there for twenty-four years. Originally there were some old Grenache vines that they harvested before planting their own along with carignan, syrah and muscatel.

Habitation in the valley dates back to the 900s when it was owned by the Count of Empuries Gaufred. Nuria and her husband own fifty hectares of land. Sixteen acres are planted on fairly flat land and the newer grapes on the very steep hillsides. Fortunately, they were able to use existing stone terraces, which have probably been there for 300 years. They also have some olive trees to produce oil for their own use.

Nuria was very enthusiastic and passionate about Mas Estela's wine production utilizing biodynamic processes with no pesticides or fungicides. We saw the rectangular steel vats, the crusher, the bottling area and finally the oak barrels. Then we spotted two lovely donkeys grazing in the pasture.

Our Italian friend is always telling stories about how things were done in his home village but he had met his match in Nuria, who swapped story for story about similar events in Spain. One was how as children they would come home from school and get a piece of bread soaked in wine for their snack. We had lots of laughs in the almost three hours we were there. Dino was very happy to have found a soul mate.

We tasted the three reds Mas Estela produces and bought the second one. Then we had some of the Moscatell, which tasted like sherry. Lovely. It was interesting how this was produced from the original 24-year-old 'mother' wine. Each year the new wine is put in the 1700-litre barrels. 700 litres are transferred into the previous year's barrels with 700 litres being moved from each year's barrels ultimately aging the wine beautifully.

We had our pictures taken outside under the beautiful blue hanging wisteria as a reminder of the special day. By now Nuria's husband had returned from the port where he was exchanging some of his wine for some fresh fish. I think he was amazed that we were still there. What a hospitable and friendly couple who make wonderful wine in a perfect paradise.


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