CLOS MONTBLANC: 300 YEARS OF WINEGROWING HISTORY

Josep Vadri, the winemakerat Clos Montblanc

 

Located in the Conca de Barberá Designation of Origin (D.O.) and very close to two areas of great significance in Catalonia – namely the walled ducal town of Montblanc and Poblet Monastery - is Clos Montblanc. The winery has a history dating back 300 years, where various members of the Carbonell family over five generations have made wine. They subscribe to the philosophy of the Cistercian monks and the Knights Templar, who were both linked to the region and left their winegrowing legacy there.

 

The Carbonell family house, Masía Les Comes, dates back to the 18th century. For generations, the family has been producing wines using artisanal or traditional methods. Some grape varieties are still harvested by hand, with natural fermentation occurring in stone tanks of the period, which are still used today, without temperature control.

 

Josep Vadri, the winery’s winemaker, has been working in the industry for over 35 years, and for the last 30 years at Clos Montblanc. Alongside this activity, he has consulted for small wineries and carried out other types of industrial projects for companies in the food and agricultural sector. He has broad-ranging experience, having worked in other winegrowing countries such as France, Chile, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

 

He is responsible for combining traditional winemaking techniques and the latest trends to produce wine.  His knowledge enables him to create wines with a profile that is distinctive and characteristic of the Conca de Barberá D.O.

 

The winery has vineyards in four different designations of origin (Conca de Barberá, Penedés, Tarragona and Terra Alta). The main characteristic they have in common is stony soils, forcing the vines – through their roots - to seek nutrients in deeper soils, producing better yields and quality. In the first area, the soil is chalky with black slate, the famous ‘Llicorella’. In the second, sedimentary rock from the Miocene period predominates over other kinds of soils. In Tarragon, the soils are alluvial; and in Terra Alta, the soil is basically clayey.

 

The climate is predominantly Mediterranean with a strong continental influence owing to the fact that the vineyards are located between 400 and 600 metres above sea level. There are large day-night temperature differences, imbuing the wines with strong, concentrated aromas, characteristic of Clos Montblanc.

 

Various grape varieties are used.  Autochthonous varieties like Trepat, Grenache, Ull de llebre and Samsó, together with more international varieties, such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, produce the winery’s red wines.  White wines are made from the Macabeo and Parellada grape varieties, together with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Rosé wines are also produced from blending some of the afore-mentioned varietals.

 

In 1988, Lluís Carbonell Figueras decided to professionalise the winery and built on the family tradition by constructing a modern winery with greater production capacity.  Fuelled by a desire to improve the quality of his wines, he surrounded himself with internationally recognised winemakers, thus creating many of the wines which give his winery its current prestige. The person currently at the winery’s helm, who manages it with great passion and enthusiasm, is Pilar Carbonell, daughter of Lluís Carbonell.

 

Currently, Clos Montblanc has the capacity to produce 3 million litres yearly. It has 80 hectares of vineyards and 34 fermentation tanks with a total capacity of up to 750,000 litres and over a thousand high quality casks made from French and American oak.

 

All the vineyards around the Masía Les Comes, as well as Trepat and white Grenache vines, are in the process of being certified as organic. For the remaining vineyards, great consideration is given to environmental sustainability, while reducing the use of pesticides and disease-control products as much as possible.

 

The company exports its wines to over 30 countries, with greater recognition in some, like France, Japan and Germany where demand is greater. Other countries where you can find Clos Montblanc wines include Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Korea, Denmark, the USA, Finland, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, and the UK which make up 70% of annual sales.

 

By Santiago Jimenez – Photographs: Courtesy of the Bodegas