Boasting a long wine tradition in the area, this producer has pioneered modern Garnacha Blanca wines in the area. Carme Ferrer and Manuel Sanmartín released their first bottle in 1994 inspired by the family’s long wine background. The project is named after the great-grandmother, born in Gandesa in 1828 to a wine merchant and a wealthy landowner lady. A woman of strong character, Bàrbara Forès encouraged his son, a pharmacist, to build a cellar in the family house. The entire production, around 70,000 bottles, is still handled in the manor house in the centre of the village. It is cramped and a bit inconvenient but it certainly adds charm and authenticity to the project.
Daughter Pili joined her parents bringing with her a renewed interest in traditional skin-contact wines (locally called 'brisados') and the use of amphorae. These wines used to be destemmed and fermented with skins in old ceramic-lined vats, many of which can still be found in the old cellar. They also have uncoated cement tanks and others lined with fireclay tiles.
Bàrbara Forés has also pioneered the work with Morenillo, a rare grape variety which used to be vilified for ripening late. Carme discovered it in a local vineyard and decided to plant it because of its fine tannins. Morenillo is still waiting to be accepted by Terra Alta’s Regulatory Board.
They own almost 30 hectares of vines in 12 different vineyards, most of them planted with red and white Garnacha. The vines are organically farmed with certification expected to arrive on the 2016 vintage. As many producers in Spain, they have gradually reduced the use of international grapes to focus on local varieties. They stopped using selected yeasts for whites in the 2015 vintage and expect to follow the same path with red wines soon.
The range starts with three young, entry-level wines priced between €7.5 to €10 in Spain: a White Garnacha with a dollop of Viognier, and two Garnacha, Syrah and Carignan blends made in rosé and red versions. El Quintal (around €14) is a benchmark White Garnacha in the area and comes from sandy soils locally called 'panal'. Two other wines made from this variety have recently joined the range: Abrisa’t (€16), an orange wine fermented with skins and aged in amphorae; and a naturally sweet scarce wine made from grapes dried on straw and aged in barrel.
There are two more red wines: the aerial, aromatic El Templari (€12), a great value Morenillo and Garnacha blend, and Coma d’en Pou (around €20), whose grapes are sourced from a property with very poor, limestone, gravely soils. Garnacha is increasingly playing a more dominant role, thus the wine feels less structured now with a clear Mediterranean character. Syrah and Carignan are also part of the blend.