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Passion for Spanish wine

WINERIES

Currently owned by Ramón Jané and Mercè Cusco, the project was set up in 2006 by four winegrower friends. One of them, Toni Carbó, is still very close to the couple despite setting up on his own with Celler La Salada –in fact, most of Carbó’s wines are still made at Mas Candí.

Ramón Jané’s grandfather used to make wine but over the years it became more profitable for him to sell the grapes to the large houses in Penedès. But Ramón, who studied Viticulture and Oenology and trained in Burgundy and Champagne, was set on making his dream of bottling the family grapes come true. Both he and Mercè are passionate wine lovers and regularly take part in Vila Viniteca Blind Tasting Contest in Pairs; so much so that Ramón and Toni Carbó have come in second place twice.

First and foremost, Ramón and Mercè are winegrowers. They tend 40 hectares of organically certified vines passed down in their families: from Mercè’s father they have 13Ha surrounding the farmhouse and winery in Les Gunyoles (Avinyonet del Penedès) on the edge of Garraf Natural Park; and from Ramón’s parents they own 27Ha in Guardiola de Font Rubí, as well as in Plà de Penedès and Torrelavit. They sell half of their grapes to other quality-focused producers such as Raventós i Blanc and keep the rest for them, enough to produce about 60,000 bottles of still wines and Cava which is mostly sold in Catalonia and abroad (30%).

The focus is on indigenous grapes: “We’re small, so we have to be a bit radical and try to do different things,” Ramón says. Xarel.lo accounts for 50% of the surface under vine including some old plots of up to 60 years. Apart from growing Macabeo and Parellada and the red Sumoll, they have a particular interest in other local grapes like Malvasía, Trobat (whites) and the red Mandó. Mónica is another red grape grown in Sardinia which is supposed to have travelled to Italy while the Kingdom of Aragón controlled the island. Although they sell their Chardonnay to other producers, Ramón and Mercé make a Cabernet Sauvignon called Les Forques (€10 in Spain) from a head-pruned vineyard planted in 1984 by Ramón’s father but they are gradually increasing the amount of recovered grapes in the blend.

Mas Candí’s flagship wine is Desitge (€7.5-8), a young Xarel.lo fermented with selected yeasts of which 20,000 bottles are produced. QX, meaning Quatre (4) Xarel.los (€14.5) blends their best Xarel.lo from four different areas in Penedès. The wine is fermented with natural yeasts and aged in various types of wood barrels: acacia, chestnut and French and American oak. La Pura (€35, only 600 bottles) is a single-vineyard Xarel.lo whose grapes are sourced from a limestone plot in Garraf. It was first released in the 2014 vintage and in 2016 it is set to be a sulfite-free wine. According to Jané, it is rare to find Garnacha Blanca in Penedès because this variety was vastly underrated, thus the name Ovella Negra (Black Sheep, 500 bottles, €11) for his 100% Garnacha Blanca wine. As far as reds are concerned, they produce Vincle (€9 in Spain), which is made entirely with Mandó, and Cabòries (12 €), a blend of Mandó and Sumoll with a small percentage of Xarel.lo. None of these wines carry the seal of the DO Penedès.

Their sparkling range starts with MC Brut Nature (€7.5-8), a classic blend of Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parellada, plus a fresh, serious rosé called Prohibit. In collaboration with La Salada, they also produce two pét-nat sparkling wines with no added sulfites: Tinc Set (literally “I’m thirsty” in Catalan, €8.5) and the rosé Roig Boig (“crazy red” in Catalan, €10). These fresh and fun wines don’t come under the Cava umbrella.

There’s a lot of experimentation going on indoors and not only in terms of ancient grapes. Ramón and Mercè are continuously testing wine recipients (they like the effect that oxygenation in amphorae has on the Sumoll grapes) and sulfur-free wines; they are currently working on a sparkling Parellada wine made from grapes grown in the higher Alt Penedès and on how to bring some degree of oxidative character to their fizz.

TASTING NOTES

Tinc Set Espumoso Ancestral

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