During these unprecedented times I continue to travel by proxy thanks to regular conversations with vignerons around Europe. And it was a particular pleasure to chat to our friends the Pons family from Les Garrigues in Catalonia. Yes, I know, that’s in Spain; and no, this missive will not mention Rioja!
I’d like to introduce the Pons family for three reasons:- they are a wonderful family we met in Cannes some years ago, they produce exceptional wine and they have managed to create triumph from adversity. Their story pivots around the turn of the Millennium. Approximately 20 years ago they produced the most outstanding organic olive oil, and still do to this day. So outstanding, that despite the superb alternatives available closer to home, we have imported theirs for many years.
2001 was a winter that nobody in Catalonia will forget. Freezing temperatures and biting frosts gave little respite for weeks on end. In a region where winters are typically ambient, this was quite a shock. From a business perspective, the Pons family were hit hard. Their groves were completely destroyed. Which is where their journey becomes relevant to we wine lovers, because they decided to diversify. Vines were planted and new skills learned. The results were quite exceptional. Theirs is an area developed on ancient rock, high in minerality. The local scrubland adds a distinctive concentration and freshness.
All of which has led to the production of the most characterful, drinkable wine, hand harvested and produced wholly at the vineyard, ageing in oak barrels. Their flagship red wine is ‘Alges’, made with a combination of Grenache, Tempranillo and Syrah grapes. It’s a compelling mix of fruit, wood, and acidity that creates a wine which is deep and ripe with a unique balance of fruity jam, liquorish and balsamic.
Their best known white wine is ‘Sisquella’. It’s a bold blend of the fresh, Atlantic Albariño and the sweet warmth of the Mediterranean Grenache blanc. It’s a fusion of sea air and characterful land which produce a floral aroma and an elegant, expressive taste. We think it is comparable to some top white Burgundies. I’d recommend opening a bottle of Alges to accompany red meat, particularly lamb, and Sisquella for seafood, white meat, salad and cheese (particularly goat).
Sadly, this story has a twist. As you may have seen on the news recently, Clos Pons was hit by Storm Filomena in the second week of January. The family sent me pictures from Spain that look more reminiscent of a Christmas card, with the vineyards covered in almost a meter of snow! Damaged branches of the olive trees will mean reduced production for the next three years, but the vines have survived and the Pons family are optimistic that snow creates a perfect system of hydration that will guarantee a great harvest in 2021 – two decades after the family decided to branch out from olive oil.
I will be looking forward to that, and in the meantime, you can have cases of their recently released outstanding white or red wines, delivered to your doorstep within the week for you to enjoy ASAP! I do hope you enjoy these brief insights into our world and the delightful, traditional and passionate families with whom we do business.