This innovative project was launched in Mallorca in 2006 by Francesc Grimalt, former winemaker at Ánima Negra (the first producer to seriously work with the obscure grape Callet) and wine lover and music professional Sergi Caballero. A founding member, co-director and art director of Sónar, an advanced music festival, Caballero is responsible for the radically modern image of the wines.
The name 4 Kilos refers to the 4m pesetas (€24,000) that the two partners invested (in Spanish, one kilo is a coloquial expression to say one million). “This was our particular statement of principles. There’s no need to be a millionaire to make wine; all that’s needed is passion and hard work,” Caballero often says.
The beginnings were humble —their first vintage was made in the garage of a friend using stainless steel milk tanks. An old sheep barn was later converted into a winery; it is part of a property owned by Francesc’s parents in the outskirts of Felanitx, in the south east of the island.
Both their own 15 Ha of vineyards as well as their suppliers’ are spread across different areas of the island so they used the IGT Mallorca designation for their wines. Varieties include local grapes Callet, Manto Negro, Monastrell and Fogoneu together with Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot. The trend is gradually moving towards indigenous varieties. In fact, their flagship red 4 Kilos (15,000 bottles, around €30 in Spain) is now a single-varietal Callet. Grapes are sourced from old vines grown on reddish ferrous-clay soils locally known as call vermell (in Catalan vermell means red). The 4 Kilos label changes every new vintage.
According to Francesc, “call vermell is terrific because it combines gravel with clay components so the soil dries up quickly. Clay retains water whereas gravel becomes as compact as cement so the ground retains water on the lower layers and grapes reach full ripeness.”
12 Volts (around €6, 45,000 botlles) blends 60% Callet with international grapes (20% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot). Despite the fact that indigenous grapes produce lighter wines, they are more expressive an can accentuate their Mediterranean character (scrubland, aromatic herbs). Oak is limited to foudres and large barrels up to 600 litres.
Grimalt confesses that he has returned to head pruned vines and field blends. “I detest clones,” he admits. “Now we think of vineyards as forests. We are not hippies —the more diversity, the less problems we have. We keep natural edges because they are home to mosquitoes and bees, both of whom are great predators. We also use nettle and sage to strengthen the leaves and make them resistant to green mosquitoes.”
Fundamentally, Francesc is a great advocate of adapting wine growing and wine making to the specific conditions of the area. “We have been following the practices of northern wine regions; now it’s time for the Mediterranean to define its own style,” he claims.
Two new wines have been launched in recent years. The brand Motor (around €16) is used for alternative, experimental products from singular vineyards, grapes or landscapes in the island and wines change every year. Premium wine Grimalt Caballero (around €45, 1,000 bottles) combines the surnames of the two founders and exhibits a rather particular coat of arms on the label. It is their most delicate expression of Callet and offers a pure, deep Mediterranean character.
4 Kilos also works with Amadip Esment, a charity for the mentally handicapped. Their members actively take part in the harvest and the winemaking of Gallinas & Focas (around €18, it translates as hens & seals), which is a blend of Manto Negro with a bit of Syrah. Tanuki Bob (3,000 bottles, around €14 in Spain) is the second wine of this joint project. Launched with the 2014 vintage, this 100% Manto Negro is partly fermented with stems to get some carbonic maceration and results in a fresh, fragrant, very drinkable red.