98 days of maceration on the skins are to blame. On top of that, both fermentation and maceration are carried out in clay amphorae of maestro Juan Padilla. And if that wasn’t enough, we will add two months of ageing in French oak barrels.
But well, as much as I like these data, that I do, and as good as the wine was, and it was, this article would not have come to life if it were not for the man behind the wine. As my loyal reader, you already know that what most excites me about a wine is the people behind it. For me, this binomial must always go hand by hand. Good wine and good people means better end result. If either leg fails, I fall from the chair to the ground.
My friend Yolanda told me a long time ago that there was this orange wine that I had to try. It was duly noted on my to-do list but so many moons span around and I still didn’t find the time for tasting it or making a visit to the winery until recently. Once the planets aligned, off we went.
Agustí is a nice guy. The more articles I write, the younger the people I get to know (I seriously need to think if there is a connection here or not). I met him at a wine fair and though very brief, the conversation was very pleasant. We finally got together more calmly on a Saturday morning and it was much better.
Agustí Torelló belongs to the cavista family of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Penedès. For a few years now he has established on his own creating the brand Agustí Torelló Roca, or AT Roca as it appears on the labels of his wines. He still keeps his facilities separated. Some he has rented, some others belong to his family, but as things continue developing according to the plan, it is his intention to unify everything. Agustí is also at the helm of another more personal project called Anima Mundi.
The day was sunny though slightly windy, one of those autumn mornings in which under the sun you still can be talking about vineyards, soils, viticulture for hours, especially if you have in your hands a glass of a sparkling wine made by Agustí. From our private watchtower, we had in front some of the vineyards that Agustí works in Sant Sebastià dels Gorgs, in the region of Alt Penedès. One of them is a Macabeo vineyard planted in 1969 called Vinya Sobre Casa. The land, of extremely calcareous soil, conveys into their wines a very strong personality It is from this vineyard one of his most special wines comes from: Pells. Moreover, the vineyard has a north exposition so the acidity joins the chalky character to create great wines.
Agustí follows the family philosophy of working organically and he is also adopting several steps of biodynamic viticulture. He knows the lands of their vines as the back of his hands, how they influence the grapes they produce and the wines that are subsequently produced. When he is talking, you feel the passion he shares for the location of its vineyards, by the influence of the wind streams coming from the Mediterranean Sea. He talks about Geologywith the same passion as well, about the horseshoe shape this area has, the protection of the surrounding hills originated millions of years ago that over the centuries have created a soil rich in marine nutrients.
Later we went into the cellar, where we continued talking and tasting the base wines of his sparkling wines. Agustí is in love with these calcareous notes in his wines and we tasted different plots that showed an increasing level of calcareous intensity. The truth is that the chalkier the plot, the more personality the wine has. All of them go through oak, some 225-liter barrels, others 500- or 600-liter ones. And there, sat in a corner, were the two amphorae I mentioned at the beginning. In them inhabited the Macabeo that later will be Pells. In the picture you can see that many grapes are still intact though they have been living inside the amphora a couple of months. Tasting this wine right there was delightful. It still has nearly two months of maceration ahead and another two months in barrel, but the wine was delicious and I only felt envious of what must have been the childhood of Obelix.
After so many questions, lots of answers and especially a lot of conversation, we went to the part of the cellar where he keeps many, many sparkling wine bottles of a good handful of vintages. At the far end of it there was a small room where we started tasting more things. The two sparkling wines made under the label of AT Roca are Pedregar and Esparter. The first is a rosé with 85% of Garnacha Tinta and 15% of Macabeo with 7 months in barrel and 30 months of ageing in Rima. The second, oh the second one, is wonderful. For those of you who don’t like sparkling wines before, you need to tast this one. Then you will love them. Singlevarietal of Macabeo with 7 months in barrel and 40 months in Rima. I liked the first one too but Esparter seemed wonderful to me. Both wines are made with grapes coming from organic viticulture.
After this explosive start, we turned to Anima Mundi. A few lines above I commented that it is a more personal project of Agustí. It is a return to the old ways; the style wine was once made. Here he has produced two sparkling wines, Camí dels Xops and Noguer Baix. The first one is Macabeo and Xarel·lo with fermentation carried for both in old French oak barrels and steel tanks. Noguer Baix is Macabeo singlevarietal and ferments in 600-liter clay amphorae. Both are practically bottled at the end of fermentation and both are made under organic and biodynamic methods. I’m sure you know which one I liked most, right?
Finally, two more wines. Anima Mundi Xarel·lo, in contact with the skins for 24 hours before pressing. The fermentation takes place both in old 500-liter French oak barrels and amphora. It subsequently has a 6-month period on its own yeasts. Anima Mundi Pells is the wine whose description began this article. A luxury of orange wine in the Penedès that gives you pleasure to taste, drink and enjoy. And share with friends. I have already commented the philosophy that these wines have. They are completely natural. Agustí works them with autochthonous yeasts and without adding absolutely anything that might affect the soul of the wines. And as he likes to highlight, the grapes with which they are made come from vineyards whose soils are extremely calcareous.
Having the opportunity to visit and meet Agustí is a true pleasure. Not only because he is able to explain his knowledge and give you a master class without you noticing it, but also because he transmits all his passion that has been in his family for so long. And his wines are made with that same passion and with lots of love. There will be those who do not like cava or sparkling Penedés wines, but first you have to try what Agustí makes and then make up your mind and decide. I like his sparkling wines very much, both in the region’s more traditional style and those made according to more ancestral styles. And his still wines are delightful. Pells is simply wonderful.
Soon we will talk to Agustí Torelló Roca about everything he likes when it comes to making wine.