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Interview with Josep Grau from the winery Josep Grau Viticultors

26/04/2011 Interviews

In order to provide you with all the information related to your favourite wines, we open a new section devoted to the interviews conducted with their winemakers. Who can tell us the secrets of wines and their elaboration better than them?

This week we talked with Josep Grau from the winery Celler Dosterras, D.O. Montsant.

1. Can you please explain the origins of the winery? How did everything start?

In 2001, I had finished my studies on oenology and I decided that I wanted to elaborate a wine 100% Grenache, a vision of Chateauneuf du Pape. These were my favourite, so I started looking for old vineyards with a special character and personality. And I found it in Capçanes. It was a sole hectare estate with two different terroirs (clayey and calcareous), with vines aged of more than 100 years planted after the phylloxera in a marvellous location. Its potential seemed incredible to me. Therefore, together with my wife, I decided to build my own winery in the middle of the vineyard so that the cycle was completely closed. However, it was allowed building 50 squared metres only; therefore when the production increased I had to move to Marçà, to another estate at 3 km from the first one. There is were I transformed an old house from the beginning of the 20th century into a winery with 7 rooms devoted to wine tourism for wine lovers (Mas Figueres). Nowadays, we have 17 hectares of old vineyards spread over 11 different estates with different terroirs (clay, calcareous and slate soils). The all have their own personality and all of them provide different nuances to the wine.

2.    Which is your flagship wine? What are you working at now and what future projects do you have?
I equally like all my wines. Each of them provides satisfaction and fulfillment. That is why I make wines, since I find a personal fulfillment in making wine. If one of my wines is not likely to provide some kind of growth I prefer not to produce it. For the future, I am conducting a further research on traditional local varieties (Garnaches and Samsó). Very soon, we will launch a wine 100% Samsó, which I consider a radical evolution in the way this region is understood.

3.    In your winemaking procedures, which are your winery’s differentiating elements with regard to others?
Personality. In my opinion, the only way of producing different wines, is the personality of each one, as we are all different. I don’t like stereotyped wines, that perfection is nearly offensive. That is why I work manually and in the maximum respect of the vineyards, with indigenous yeast, and with a 100% natural winemaking, assuming the risks all the time: in the vineyard, in the winery… Wines are not maths, so if we do not leave something to chance, we lose personality. Everybody have to assume the possibilities of each land and deal with them. I know that where I am, I can produce certain kind of wines and that I cannot do other things.

4.    Wine culture is in constant evolution. What should a winery do to adapt to these changes and to stay alive in the market?
The vineyards have to be respected. This, which seems obvious, is not always considered and it is the basis of everything. Copying a wine is quite easy, but it is impossible to copy a vineyard. The evolution lies in the respect for ancestral wine culture along with the increase of nowadays knowledge. We have wider knowledge than our grandparents, but we have to adapt them without losing sight of reality. We all know that life changes quickly but the vines improve over the years and if we want to take the most out of them, we will have to resist with them for many years. Trends do not exist, everything is pendular in the world of wine … Everything comes and goes, comes again and leaves, to return stronger.

5.    What do you think of the situation of Spanish wine culture in the international market? What is the position of the Spanish market?
I think that we are still far away from some countries but we are ahead of others which are becoming increasingly stronger. We have a wonderful habitat which allows obtaining excellent outcomes, but we have to make people appreciate our products, explain our own personality that lies on very deep roots.  If we do this correctly, we will leave an important legacy to our children. If not, all our efforts will not be worthwhile. We have to wise up, we are very much retarded and many people seem not to know it. We are not the New World. I think we have to look for our competitors in closer latitudes.

6.    And in the case of your winery, do you bet for the international market? Is it easier than struggling for the national market at the moment?
Nothing is easy at the moment, but due to several reasons from our beginning we have been nearly monopolized by exports. We first awoke curiosity beyond our borders and this made us export. But maybe it could have been the other way around, I don’t know. I love being in the Sweden market for example. It is a non producing land, open, with no influences, and the fact of having my wines valued amidst Italian and French phenomenons … makes me reaffirm my project. In Spain the market is more limited, but I love enjoying my wine near from home.

Define yourself. 5  quick questions that will help us know you better:

1.    What do you prefer: red, white, rosé wine, cava or champagne?
A bottle of each, if possible.

2.    Which is your favourite designation of origin?
I prefer talking about producers rather tan designations.

3.    What is your favourite grape variety?
Grenache, with no doubts. Unless colour, it has everything.

4.    A young or an aged wine?
It depends. The last wine I got excited about was extraordinary young.

5.    The oenologist who is making must taste wines?
Anything form Sara Pérez and René Barbier is a must taste.

And to end up, just three wine or cava recommendations. Under 10, 30 and 50 euros.

Under 10 € – Petit Caus Rosat 2010
Under 30 €  – Lalama 2006 by Dominio do Bibei
Under 50 € – Nun Vinya dels Taus 2008 by Enric Soler / Granato 2001 de Elizabetta Foradori.