The vendimia is on. And though the grape harvest this year is down, in some cases fifty percent, wine makers are a tough lot, and will not be stopped. There is a phrase in castellano that I love, "es lo que hay", and to be sure, the amazing individuals I have met who make unique, artisan wines, embody this phrase, it's what there is. They don't take nature for granted, and work with what she offers.
And I work with what they offer, in this case the skins from their pressings.
Here's the process: the wine maker, in this case Bodega Sao del Coster and Ficaria Vins, presses the grapes and either discards the skins or calls me and says "hey, want some skins?". I then receive a lovely, fragrant batch of grape skins that have already been in the fermentation process. Next, add water.
It is nearly impossible to describe the refreshing, soothing sensation of plunging your arms, elbow deep, in to a vat of bubbling grapes. The sensory pleasures are magnified by a realization that this complex fruit, which provides us with that most pleasurable of liquids, wine, keeps working until you say stop. The winemaker makes it their task to say when to pull the plug. For my purposes, I just want to keep the skins around as long as they keep surprising me with color.
The vat of syrah grapes my friend Jaume Roca brought me from his syrah harvest is still percolating, weeks later. These are the grapes used for their Elia. My house smells like a wine cellar, and I LOVE IT! And on my terrace are grapes from Fredi Torres, which I culled from the rejects when I spent a day harvesting his cariñena for Planassos. Like a mad scientist, I dip my silks in to these aromatic baths, wait anywhere from hours to days to extract them. Rinse thoroughly, hang to dry.
I am so grateful to have found not only the Priorat but my fabulous friends in the Montsant DO. I am not a political person, per se. I don't distinguish between DO Priorat and DO Montsant. I have friends, they make wine, they give me skins, I extract color. I call this symbiotic relationship art, pure and simple, the confluence of craft and art. As the catalans would say, "que mes vols?", what more do you want?