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Last year, we first wrote about the Catalan winemaker who swept us off our feet with a bottle sent anonymously. The label and the shape of the bottle were both indicative of sophistication; however, on tasting the wine we clearly felt that whoever made it takes their work seriously. It was the La Forens from 2018, from Josep Grau. He launched his estate in 2003, and at the beginning he only made wine for his own consumption, without sulphur, in a completely pure way. He only sold a few cases to the local restaurants, to have it on the spot when his family had lunch there. It was an accident that a Swedish sommelier happened to be given a glass of it when he was there. That’s when Josep’s winemaking career turned serious and by now he has become an important name in Montsant, in the young appellation that neighbours Priorat. The local varieties are harvested from 50-70-year-old plots, cultivation is organic, biodynamic, and fermentation starts spontaneously in concrete vats. Ageing, for which they only use 20-25-hectolitre Stockinger barrels, starts two months later. Being released during the summer months, the Vespres brings out the lighter flavours of the varieties – it’s an excellently proportioned juicy blend of Grenache (60%), Carignan (30%) and Syrah (10%). Beside it, the new vintage of the La Florens has also arrived from 2019. For the estate’s best-known wine, the grapes are harvested from a more than 100-year-old Garnacha Tinta parcel every year. Pomegranate, spices and mint appear on the deep, detailed nose and palate.
In his estate that was launched in 2003, Josep Grau made wine initially just for himself, and only gave a few cases to local restaurants. It was an accident that a Swedish sommelier happened to get a glass of his wine, when he was in one of those restaurants. That’s when Josep’s wine career took a serious turn.