Last Saturday we embarked on a two day wine tour to the lovely region of Emporda (D.O. Emporda is actually the wine region/appellation) by the Costa Brava just over an hour north of Barcelona.
Wine was introduced in Catalonia back in the 6th century B.C. through the most important greek colony in the area – Empuries. This settlement with time became eventually the place that gave the name to the whole region of Emporda.
Today l’Emporda is divided in two parts; Baix (low) and Alt (high). On this trip we focused on the “low” – south area closer to Barcelona and the vineyards around there.
We left on Saturday shortly after midday. It took us about an hour and a half from the city centre of Barcelona to get to our first winery – Clos d’Agon where we were greeted by the lovely Viviana. The tour started with a brief explanation of the project and the estate which is located in the Gavarres National Park and occupies a little over 40ha (17 used for vines). The owners are from France which is reflected in the type of grapes that they grow (Merlot, Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon among others). During the visit to the winery and cellars we learned that one of the oenologists is the famous Peter Sisseck who is responsible for the “cult” wine Dominio de Pingus. After the visit it was time for a nice and relaxed tasting on the terrace of the winery overlooking the vineyards. We got to taste their Amic series wines (one got the gold medal from Viniari d’or as best Catalan rose in 2016) and Clos d’Agon line which has great red from different vintages.
That night we stayed at a charming boutique hotel close to the beach with a great restaurant run by Michelin Star chefs who appreciate and make use of the local products. The location of the hotel also allowed us to do some hiking the next morning in the woods by the beautiful coastline.
After a late breakfast we had scheduled to visit the incredible Celler Bell Lloc. This small estate is owned by swiss philanthropists Kurt and Carmen who have definitely created a special place with a beautiful philosophy.
Bell Lloc (which means beautiful place in catalan) is part of the Brugarol group that besides the winery manages a couple of houses and apartments to rent within the property, a restaurant and special events like intimate weddings.
The cellar is built underneath the vineyards and it’s a masterpiece of design developed by the architectural firm RCR Aranda Pigem Vilalta Arquitectos. A perfectly integrated and functional place built from steel out of old commercial vessels.
However not only the design of the cellars cause an immediate impression but also the fact that this estate elaborates almost every product served in their restaurant themselves! Besides the organic wines, Bell Lloc does delicious varieties of olive oils, marmalade from the fruits and vegetables they grow, cheeses from their goats or cold cuts from their Iberian pigs.
The wines we tasted with our meal after the visit were very good, specially the 2010 red Crianza. What we all found fascinating were the labels on the bottles – there were none! The owner – Kurt – wants people to judge his wine by the taste and not the label, therefore the bottles are clean and all the information can be found attached to the neck on a very cool piece of steel taken from parts of the materials used to built the cellar.
Before heading back to Barcelona, we still paid a quick visit to a very small local producer (farmer) within the town of Calonge. We know Joan (the owner) for many years now as we like his brave red wine which he sells to the local community and neighbours. However we’ll tell you more about this in our next blog about Emporda. We are certainly coming back to this great wine region.