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A stroll around Clos Mogador with Rene Barbier Jr

10/02/2017 Wineries

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Last Saturday, at 12pm, we met René Barbier Jr. in Clos Mogador (Gratallops). It was one of those visits that give you butterflies, since this winery and region have been flagships in the winemaking world since our beginnings.

René arrived with a big smile, greeted us and invited us to climb into his pickup truck to take us straight to the vineyard.

While we drove through the Gratallops vineyards, he explained his family’s history. It all started in 1979 when his father arrived in Priorat; in 1986, Clos Mogador was created, and in 1989, they joined forces with other winemakers to add value to the region. We all already know the story. They opted for native grape varieties, Garnacha and Cariñena, although they also planted more advanced varieties such as Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape that brings energy and ageing capacity to wine. They applied winemaking techniques from Bordeaux teachings, which consist of long macerations and ageing in 225 litre barrels to refine the wines. Over the years, the results have been changing the vision of Priorat’s terroir.

René Barbier Jr. started working with his father in 1999. Together, René and his brother have been progressively injecting their own vision of the vineyard into Clos Mogador, as well as incorporating new techniques into production. While he was explaining this to us, his motivation was perfectly obvious: vineyards among olive trees and almond trees, plant cover, more biodiversity and a conviction that polycrop farming will be the future.

We aimed for the slopes that are most exposed to the heat, where we would appreciate how the vegetation changes considerably. Here, he talked about Cariñera, an exciting variety. He explained to us how it has demonstrated great capacity for adapting to such an extreme environment with a high potential for ageing.
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We arrived at Manyetes, a vineyard planted across three different plots and cultivated with mainly Cariñera grapes, with a small quantity of Garnacha of different ages. It is a beautiful estate with half a dozen olive trees in the basin of a small stream.

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We followed a meandering path through the slate slopes where we could appreciate the extreme conditions in which the vineyards grow. We passed through another of his projects, La Vinya Del Vuit, which he started with 8 friends in 2001. It is made up of three hectares of Cariñena, from which they make around 2000 bottles per vintage.
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We arrived at Clos Mogador, an impressive 24 hectare slate ampitheatre where their father’s dreams started materialising. The two brothers are focusing on reviving the soil and creating plant cover. Their aim is to maintain the strength of the vineyard and supply moisture to the vines using the plant cover. This way, they can achieve a good balance between ripeness and alcohol content without it rising uncontrollably, which is quite a common problem in Priorat.

Returning to the winery, we went through the house situated in the lower area of the same Clos where the boys spent many years with their parents, playing, learning and working on the estate where they now create their wines.

Once in the winery, we started tasting the different Clos Mogador wines. Nelin 2016, still with a little sugar left to ferment, has quite a lot of energy. He loves white wines from Priorat, like the great white Burgundian wines from the South, or those from Ródano. It ferments in the barrel for eight months and is then decanted into a stainless steel tanks where it finishes refining.

Manyentes has an uncommon energy and a rural character to fall in love with. This Cariñena refines in used barrels and has great potential for a long life ahead of it.

The philosophy of Clos Mogador wine is to capture the estate and the vintage in a wine. A combined fermentation of varieties to which they try not to add yeast or sulphur during fermentation so that the vineyard can express itself freely. This wine unites all the varieties and ages planted in Clos to make this estate wine (‘vino de finca’). A concentrated 2016 vintage, in the classic Priorat style.

We move on to another room where he makes wines with his wife Sara Pérez, Partida Bellvisos. Fudres, demijohns, different sized barrels, a large quantity of tanks with which they experiment by tasting and refining the wines year after year. The wines are made without adding any oenological products. The rosé that they are making now will stay in our minds for years to come.

After the morning in Clos Mogador, the day was extended a little longer in Venus la Universal (Montsant) with Sara Pérez and some friends. Tasting wines, eating and sharing.

A great day, they showed us that they are just as excited about learning and making wine as the generation before them, in this special corner of the planet, Priorat and Priorat wines.

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