My name is René Barbier (fourth generation going by the same name!!!). I started out in the world of wine at Clos Mogador in 1992 with my father, the other René Barbier, the bearded one.
I have spent more than 20 years of my life dedicated to wine. For the first 10 years, I worked mainly in the winery and whilst I was there, I realized that in order to advance further, I needed to be out working the land…
In 2001 I had the option of buying a small old vine “coster” (steeply sloping, traditional) vineyard called Els Bellvisos. This vineyard had been abandoned and it was fascinating, sitting right in the middle of a steep grove of holm oaks, spectacular…a spot where I could learn about growing grapes.
It was at this same time that another great influence entered my life in the form of Sara Pérez.
Together with Sara we brought the vineyard back into production. It was an uncompromising spot, which however offered us the chance to make a wine which was at one with nature. We embarked on a project which was based on our philosophy on life: a sustainable, organic project where we could close the circle of life.
This fascinating spot known as Bellvisos (Bella Vista – Beautiful View) is an extremely steep “coster” or sloping vineyard which, due to the laminate structure of the Llicorella or slate based soil, makes it impossible to build small handmade dry stone vineyard terraces. It was abandoned 40 years previously, before herbicides and chemical pesticides were available. There are no neighbours due to the steep slopes surrounding it: not even the most valiant would plant a vineyard here!
Thanks to this, the area has been in perfect balance for a long time….
And this is what we want to safeguard, transmit and explain through the wine made here…
Ten years ago, we pruned and got the abandoned vines at Bellvisos back into production. From the beginning, I knew that I wanted to safeguard the balance which this vineyard plot emanated.
As opposed to the previous generation (that of our fathers, René Barbier Sr. And Josep Lluís Pérez) I was faced with a soil which had never been broken up to make new terraces.
At that moment in time, I saw this as a positive thing, but after 10 years of working this “coster” we have been faced with the three big dangers of looking after a fertile soil: soil erosion, low biodiversity within the vineyard plot and the loss of soil structure…
How have we overcome these difficulties? Well, we have alternated the use of a mule and hand ploughing with cutting the weeds down. We apply herbal teas and milk whey and we constantly walk through the vines, keeping an eye out.
We are working to keep the balance between the freshness of the plot and the depth that is typically Priorat (that which makes our wines so unique).
We decide when to harvest according to our taste buds and our intuition…following a very personal criteria. We prepare a pied-de-cuve or a starter culture for each wine, to reproduce in the vineyard itself the wild yeasts which will lead to a natural alcoholic fermentation, maintaining differentiating aromas according to each vintage.
Partida del Pedrer
This Garnatxa Negra (Red Grenache) wine comes from a newly planted north-facing vineyard. It is a natural wine, without any kind of additives. Pure.
Pedrer reflects the freshness of the shady side of the mountain and the heat of the morning sun. It is made partly with whole berries, uncrushed, which offer this wine a true sensation of pure fruit and the rest of the grapes are crushed and go through a long skin soak period. This adds depth which is very typical of most Priorat wines. By ageing in clay pots, we keep the purity of this wine.
Partida Pedrer Rosat
This new wine is a Mediterranean wine which has been aged. It is a natural wine and is also a rosé wine. It is a daring wine, special, unconventional but very exciting. After many years of making red wine from our Pedrer vineyard, we decided that we wanted to express this place in a different way.
Our Pedrer vineyard is planted with Garnatxa (Grenache) and Monastrell (Mourvedre), a variety which is not an authorised grape variety and thus hard to find in Priorat. In our case, it is an interesting grape variety which helps to reduce our Garnatxa’s (Grenache’s) high alcohol levels through blending, but it is also difficult to include in a red wine. Now, however, thanks to this variety, we have been able to make a balanced and complex rosé wine.
Partida Bellvisos Blanc
On both sides at the upper and lower levels of our Bellvisos vineyard are old Garnatxa Blanca (White Grenache) and Macabeu (Viura) vines: Bellvisos Blanc.
This is a wine fit for ageing, deep and complex (similar to the great Priorat reds). It is Mediterranean, with skin contact and aged mainly in 600 Litre oak barrels…it transports you from the highest parts of the vineyards where wild fennel and anise grow, right the way down to the lower levels where the more clay-based soils are profound and structured…It is a tiny journey descending and ascending our rocky, unique terrain.
When we got the “coster” (steeply sloping traditional Priorat vineyard) back into production, we thought we had bought a plot of Carinyena (Carignan)… and to our great surprise, we found it had 40% of Garnatxa Peluda (Downy Grenache)…!!! This ripens before the Carinyena (Carignan) and expresses more freshness. It is the last piece of the jigsaw we needed to transmit the balance of Bellvisos.
A vertiginous wine with long maceration which needs oak and time in bottle in order to be reborn, fine, beguiling, fresh and powerful… anchored to the Llicorella (slate-based soil) which has shaped it.