Last weekend, Sadé and I went wine tasting at a vineyard called Mas Comtal in Penedes. I have been to a couple of different wine tastings before. When I was in Spain about 9 years ago when I visited to a big corporate cava producer. It was fairly unimpressive. It felt like a commercial venture–wine Disneyland. And when I was in France in the summer of 2019, I went to a couple of small cognac producers with my parents and their friends Nicole Ewenczyk and Gilles Perrin. That was a lovely and special experience where we got to spend time with the people who actually made the booze.
Our visit to Mas Comtal was a similarly special experience. The vineyard/winery is a small family affair, about 100 acres, that produces small amounts of wine that are largely sold in Catalonia. It is a mid-range winery, meaning that it’s products are neither bottom shelf nor top shelf but generally in the range that we can afford. It is also basically all small batches–maybe 6,000 bottles per wine.
The winery itself was about 20 minutes by taxi outside of Vilafranca del Penedès. It is situated in a house, I guess the proper word would be villa, that dates back to Roman times. The winery owner gave us a tour herself and pointed out the Roman arch that holds up the center of the building. She also pointed out a 14th or 15th century wine press–made from stone–that they found under the floor of one of the rooms when they were doing remodeling.
The tasting took place at a table behind the house overlooking both the vineyard itself and the mountains, particularly Montserrat, that make that part of Penedes a valley. We were situated next to couple of large lavender bushes. While we drank wine one hummingbird hawk-moth after another visited the flowers and joined us in the tasting by sipping nectar. The proprietor also told us something about the history and agriculture of the region. We learned, for instance, that they rarely water either their grapes or their almonds because they believe that by judicious with water they can better concentrate flavor. We also learned that the climate crisis has caused them to move their harvest up by a couple of weeks.
Despite the rather dour reminder of the climate emergency, Mas Comtal was really a perfect spot and we greatly enjoyed ourselves–tasting four different wines and learning more about wine in general. We left with six bottles of wine, which I am hoping we’re able to pack successfully for our trip both back to Edinburgh and to the States.