Massimo Marchiori looks more like a fisherman than a farmer. He’s sporting a blue down vest, tattered jeans, and worn work boots. His bald head is concealed under a navy blue beanie, and a rugged salt and pepper beard frames his ready smile. Bits of tobacco cling to the chest of his fleece jacket as he rolls a cigarette and tells me about his tractor.
In the valley below us, Bonastre is a storybook. A patchwork of vineyards quilt the countryside of the lower Penedès. The vine’s buds are about to spring forth, their latency practically vibrating in the late winter air. A rain storm gathers indigo on the horizon, setting spring’s early white blooms in sharp relief. We descend into the cellar where we spend our whole visit drinking in the dim light.
Massimo fills our glasses with a succession of wines so rapidly that only his tongue outpaces us. We begin with a soft, supple white blend, his Vinello Blanco. We move onto something with hints of dried apricots before he digs into his personal stash of Muscat (pure jasmine in a glass–not for sale) and blows me away with the best wine I’ve had in a long, long time. The Subirat Parent (Malvasía) is a bright, floral bomb, and the Vinyater pure green apple with a buttery, malolactic tongue. This year’s Cartoixa Vermell is pure white pepper, but that’s because it’s been so hot. In cooler years, it tastes more of rose petals, he tells me. And those are just the whites.
The best wine I’ve had in a long, long time
He hops up onto the 300-liter barrels, lithe like a monkey, pipette in hand, dipping and shooting wine into my raised glass. As we drink, stories pour out of him. Massimo is a man with opinions. Our conversation winds gratuitously through a dizzying range of topics: from why he’s making wine in Catalunya (“I don’t like anything about Italian winemaking.”); to how many wines he makes (“Too many!”); to how to keep the grapes cool (“It’s all about leaf management.”); to technology (“I hate the phone and the computer.”); to the purity of truly natural wine (“It’s medicine!”) All the while, his animated hands put on their own one-act play.
Like most winemakers I’ve met, Massimo is intuitive and passionate. He is fiercely authentic in his winemaking, which shows in his dedication to recuperating native grapes, but also in his desire to do right by the land and to produce the purest natural wines possible. He wants the land to tell its own story through his wines.
His passion translates into non-stop experimentation. He’s producing over ten wines at the moment, and the cellar is bursting at the seams. He wants to expand, but more space means money and time. He and his wife, Antonella Gerosa, have plans in mind: to build a warehouse, maybe some bedrooms for guests, a space to entertain. For now, Massimo pops another bottle, tops us up, and raises a glass to the future.
What to try: The Blanc de Sumoll (€14,50) offers a fresh, crisp, mineral expression with hints of salinity. The Garrut (€16) is an inky bomb of crushed blackberries and herbs with twenty months aging in oak.