It’s the tail end of the harvest season, and the small laboratory at Parés Baltà is abuzz. The family is in there – the whole family – testing the season’s spoils. We crowd in at the window to watch them, a strange universe where humans observe humans at work. They hover over microscopes, dip pipettes, hold beakers up to the light.
Out in the vineyard, the vines are nearly stripped of their grapes. Some of the leaves have already begun their synthesis, turning deep red and brilliant yellow before the vines finally molt. Soon, the sheep will move in to ‘green clean’ the vines of extra leaves and prepare the soil with their natural fertilizer. All organic and biodynamic, the vineyard requires a lot of energy, human, ovine and moon alike.
Back in the barrel room, we’re taught to paddle the wines, dipping our oars into empty oak like lost Vikings, imagining the juicy macerations of peels on fruit. We’re happy to show we’re willing to work for our just rewards.
Parés Baltà is a family-run winery that crosses three generations, but the women are clearly in charge. Sisters-in-law Marta Casas and Maria Elena Jiménez are the enologists at the helm, and there’s little the dynamic duo can’t do. Together they’ve created a catalogue of 28 wines and collected a pile of medals to show for it. They name them after grandmothers, mothers, and daughters – Elena, Irene, Carol, Blanca, Rosa, Marta. Their belief in Mother Earth guides them.
“You could say our wines have a feminine touch,” our tour guide tells us. Well, imagine that.
What to try: The Blanca Cusiné 2010 (€17.50) will surprise you with a golden color that hints at its grace. It’s an incredibly high quality and well-priced brut cava made of a unique combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Xarel·lo and aged for 30 months. It serves up a tumbled bouquet of honey and hazelnuts, with hints of fresh prickly pear and preserved fruit that ends in a long, complex finish. Their Radix Rosé (€17) is another palate pleaser, an intensely deep-red Syrah rosé that explodes in full aromas of blackberries, cherries, plums, and strawberries. It has a balanced acidity and a soft finish that goes down easy.
Where to find it: Celler Can Dani (c/ Travessera de Gràcia, 119), Celler Florida (c/Floridablanca, 112), and Bodega Bonavista (c/Bonavista, 10)