Loxarel, natural wines in Penedès


Amazing. The truth is that little more can be said to express what I felt when visiting Loxarel, a winery located in the very heart of Penedès. They had a big advantage because I had previously enjoyed two of their wines that had enchanted me: A Pèl and A Pèl Ancestral. These are two wines whose label touch me deep inside. So before I even tasted the wines, they already had won my little heart. In spite of this, it was necessary to go to the winery and put on my serious face, so that they would have to make an effort during the visit. And saying they made an effort is a big understating, because if those two wines had already conquered me, Pep, Sergi and Josep Mitjans made their number one fan out of me.

Loxarel is a family winery. When you hear this ‘family winery’ thing, the first image coming to your mind is that of a small place, with a low production and a very limited number of bottles. This winery, being familiar as it is, does not respond to that premise. On the family side of Josep Mitjans’, they own 20 hectares of vineyards located in what we could call the low area of the Penedès, in Masia Can Mayol in Vilobí del Penedès, Barcelona. This farm belongs to the family of Josep for five generations. From the family side of Teresa Nin’s, Josep’s wife, they have added another 20 hectares of vineyards located somewhat further, and in an area reaching 800 meters above sea level. The union of the two families brings over 350,000 bottles per year split on around 25 labels. Something very interesting about this, though it is just a reflection of how viticulture works, is that from each area different wines come because each variety responds in different ways to different soils and climate conditions. The Syrah, for example, is much better in the upper part while the Xarel·lo offers better results in the lower side.

This article would be too long if we should talk about each of those 25 labels so we will review only a few wines and leave the rest for a later review. Though the visit was wonderful, we left on the table some wines I’m very curious about for another date, like their Merlot and some of the sparkling ones. Today we will talk about those wines that we as orange wines fans can enjoy with pleasure and satisfaction.

First of all, I must say that Loxarel practices organic and biodynamic viticulture. Their wines are not subjected to any clarification or filtration treatment nor are they added sulfur.

Loxarel makes a wonderful orange wine, the aforementioned A Pèl. Currently it is made with the Xarel·lo variety, though during my visit I had the opportunity to taste their excellent 2011, a phenomenal wine with a very peculiar orange pinkish color that had been elaborated with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We also tasted the 2016 and 2017 vintages, with a fermentation on the skins for 4 weeks in steel tanks. Afterwards, the wine rests in 720-liter clay amphorae for 3 months.

The clay amphorae are another of the peculiarities of this winery. They have several of them with a capacity of 720 and 1,000 liters manufactured in Extremadura. They also make OPS 2017, a Garnacha wine that we tasted directly from the amphora (ups, I think I should not have said this; Josep does not like it) that was very fresh and tremendously fruity, without the presence of earthy notes and really interesting. A wine that will surely be more enjoyable after bottling.

A Pèl Ancestral is a spectacular sparkling wine made with a single fermentation following the winemaking method that its name indicates (Pet Nat). The fermentation starts in 1,000-liter amphorae on the skins and finishes in the bottle. It’s the sparkling version of the A Pèl, and like this one, it’s incredible. It is marketed with cork and crown cap, following the most ancestral style.

XLV de Loxarel is a wine made with Xarel·lo Vermell, a recovered autochthonous variety of Penedès. The maceration of this wine is made with the whole berries for five months in amphora.

A Pèl Negre is another of their wines I had the pleasure of enjoying: A natural wine made with Garnacha and Merlot. Three months in 500-liter barrels and three months in 720-liter clay amphorae. The Garnacha vines are located over 500 meters of altitude while the Merlot vineyard is in Can Mayol, 250 above sea level.

In July 2014, 14 wineries integrated into the DO Cava decided to create a new classification, which they called Clàssic Penedès under which they elaborate cava following three main rules: Being 100% ecological, using traditional methods of cultivation and ecological techniques; that all the territory of the winery is inside the Penedès area; being 100% Reserve for what each wine should be aged for at least 15 months of aging at the cellar.

And speaking of cavas with longer aging times, the sparkling Loxarel star is called 109, not because of any numerology relationship, but because this cava has at least 109 months of ageing. It is a sparkling wine produced according to the Méthode Traditionnelle: 90% of Xarel·lo from the 2004 vintage (the last in the market) and tirage in February 2005. The wine is served with the original unlabeled bottle, cork stopper with staple and without degorging. Presence of the natural lees. A Brut Nature Gran Reserva, of which only 1,000 bottles have been produced in this 2004 vintage.

And the visit could go for much more, such as to have enjoyed the A Pèl Ancestral 2017 and Los Nous de +500 2010 in the middle of the vineyard, next to the exit of a refuge from the civil war in which the cavas are now housed, but that will be for another day.

Soon we will talk with Josep Mitjans about everything they do in the winery.