In 2011 Amos Baneres swapped in his life as a Barcelona pharmacist for 5.5 hectares of old vines on a hillside outside Vilafranca del Penedès, Catalonia. Penedès, an ancient river bed and a repository of fossilized oysters, is principally cava terroir. But Amos makes still wines from his indigenous cava grapes. He has small parcels of Xarel-lo, Macabeu, Perellada, plus some Garnatxa on the hill, planted on a mix of limestone, calcareous clay and sand. He vinifies in the shed at the back of his house, where there’s scope to press one 228 litre barrel a day.
The barest intervention is the watchword here. For Amos, winemaking is to wine as father is to son: the winemaker leading, but not forcing the grapes, and guiding them towards their mature expression. But for all their non-interventionist parenting, their no sulphites, no fining or filtration, these are some of the most stable and precise natural wines we’ve come across. And that’s where we remember Amos’ pharmacist’s training – because for all that the winery really is a shed, it is also an acutely managed natural laboratory, where the vessels are amphora and old oak.
ELS VINYERONS: VINS NATURELS
Els Vinyerons is Amos’ second project, a collaboration with his oenologist friend Alex Ruiz Masachs. The founding principle here is indigenous varietals, grown and vinified naturally, at a very drinkable price. Indigenous varietals for the many, from 10 hectares spread over 3 vineyards in Penedès.
Amos and Alex make two wines under the Els Vinyerons label, to the same technique: 90% aged in stainless steel for 4 months, blended with 10% from the previous year’s harvest, which has spent the year in oak barrel.