A Day in Priorat with Valentí Llagostera
The Priorat is a unique area of Catalonia with a very unique characteristics that makes it perfect for viticulture.
There is evidence of wine production in this area in the century 12 and it was preserved until century 19 when a plague ended with all the vineyards in the region. It was not until early 50 when some known and expert Spaniards winemakers decided to replant the region knowing its potential.
In 1954 the Priorat was officially founded, and now has a Denomination of origin of Quality. It is recognized by the experts like one of the best wines because of the unique characteristics of the region.
To know more about the traditions at the Priorat and have a feeling of what Priorat means to wine makers we decided to interview Valenti Llagostera.
His family is from the Priorat, and due to their relationship with the region and their love for wine, they decided to get into the winemaking business in the late 80s with Mas Doix Winery.
Mas Doix has escalated the love for wine to a new whole level of wine tourism, mixing a great variety of activities with the passion for the Priorat and winemaking in this region. Luckily, I live Spain had the pleasure to witness closely.
Valentí, how is your relationship with a good wine?
R/: The wine has been part of my life since the beginning. There was always wine from the Priorat at my home because my family is from here.
I remember as a curious and not recommended anecdote the classic snacks in the Priorat because it was always bread, a little bit of wine and sugar. Curios tradition, but at that time it was very usual in the area of the Priorat to have that snacks as children every day at 5pm. Of course, today we don’t offer that kind of snacks to our children anymore.
I talk about this anecdote to show the wine has been very present in my daily life since early years, and it has been part of my relationships with my family and friends. As I lived in the city, the wine from the Priorat was the element that tied me to a place, was what gave me an origin, I still remember my summers here as a children.
This was very important when we decided to produce wine because it was a way of rooting ourselves to the place we felt ours. We liked the idea of getting something from the earth and being able to share it on a table, which was always our goal. We believe that the place of a bottle of wine is a table, while people on the table are sharing and enjoying.
A good wine will tag along to the conversation, and the friendship helping to make the dinner, lunch or reunion flow. It will help us to enjoy the time we are sharing with the people on the table.
Finding people who enjoys our wine make me feel part of their lives, and that is what makes sense to us. It gives a sense of humanity to our business and is what we enjoy the most.
What does Mas Doix to make a visit to its vineyard a unique and outstanding experience?
R/: A visit to Mas Doix means to share with the family who makes this wine, share the passion we have for the place where the vineyard is, and for the wine that produces this vineyard.
It is also an opportunity to see how we take care of the vineyard that produces our wine, that is what we take care the most. I also believe that a visit to Mas Doix gives us the opportunity to show the traveler what we do putting our hearts and souls into it.
How do you feel about people from around the world interested in Maix Doix wine making?
R/: Oh, that is a big satisfaction for us. Every week after the holy week here in Spain we get visits from U.S.A, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and other countries. We receive emails from people telling us they heard or tasted our wine and would like to come to the see the vineyard. That is the kind of people that visit Mas Doix.
The nicest part about those visits is that every day we are meeting people with whom we already share something. The wine world can be complex and being able to talk with people who share the love, and passion for wine make easier to grow as a business and humans.
It is important the order of the wines when you are wine tasting? Does Mas Doix take care of that order?
R/: If is about Mas Doix wine, yes, definitely it is important.
They can be drunk in any order, but if you drink them in the right order you can appreciate that the wines goes flourishing or growing. Each wine responds to specific characteristics, not only for the grape, but also for the age of the wine, and if you taste it in order you can sense how each wine goes incorporating flavors that the previous one did not have.
If you do the wine tasting at Mais Doix alternating the wines is going to be difficult to appreciate those differences, which is why we have established a specific order for our wine tasting.
We like our clients to sense those new additions to each wine, and enjoy the best experience during their day tour to Priorat.
What differences exist between the Priorat wines from other denomination of origin?
R/: There are many differences. Each Denomination of Origin (D.O), responds to a very specific characteristic like are: the type of soil, grapes variety and climatological.
We can find many Denomination of Origin that share some of those characteristics, especially because they have more common soils. But for example, the type of soil found in the Priorat is very rare. We can find only 5 spots on earth that have that soil.
If you add to this the climatological, and geographic characteristic you will understand how unique Mas Doix wine is.
There is also the consistency we have had in the rankings since we began. Our wine is sold bottle by bottle we do not seek for fame.
We want it to be on the table of our customers, because we do not make wine to be tasted, we make wine to be drunk and enjoyed.
We like to see our bottles empty because the best bottle is the one is empty. It means our customers enjoyed our wine and had a pleasant time on the table.
It is Mas Doix Known in other Countries?
R/: Oh yes! Our most important market right now is the U.S.A. I would say that America has something like Europe does not have and is that America is open to new things.
I would even say that American market is the most open market right now. The wines from the Priorat had a very important welcome there, they were identified as a very unique and specific wines. Thanks to it, we have our wine selling in 20 states in U.S.A.
What is the best food to pair with a Priorat wine?
R/: It depends on the kind wine, if is white or red, and the taste of each person, but basically here are two ways of pairing food and wine.
You can contrast the food with, or you can complement the food with the wine. When it comes to a Mais Doix wine I like to pair it with truffle because they are both strong and complement each other and the aromas add a plus to it.
What would Valentí Llagostera take as a souvenir in a first trip to Catalonia?
R/: I would bring with me some product from a soil I stepped on. Something that reminds me about the place I went. for example, a bottle of wine from the Priorat if I visit the Priorat region during a day tour.
Ideally some product I had the pleasure to meet its maker or producer, that way it will reminds me of my travel experience with an added value.
What is your favorite Catalonian spot?
R/: I would say it depends on what I am going to do and with who because Catalonia has different places depending on the occasion. It has beautiful places to travel alone. It has beautiful places to visit with your partner, and it has beautiful places to travel with your friends.
If I have to choose one, Barcelona is a unique place because it has many qualities together it has wine, culture, architecture, and beach. Everything not further than hour and a half drive.
I would say almost none other city in Europe has that characteristics.