One of Oriol's vineyards in Alella, with Barcelona in the background (photo by Eben Lillie).

Oriol Artigas: 2018 Single Vineyard Wines

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I visited Oriol Artigas on August 31st, 2019, a hot and humid day in the middle of the harvest. The day before, the 30th, had been truly brutal: temperatures were around 32 degrees celsius in Alella, but the next day was set to be cooler, and picking would continue (in fact, he and his team went on to pick the La Bella vineyard on Semptember 1st). Alella, a region of steep littoral hills and protected, heavily forested valleys facing both inland and towards the Mediterranean, has intensely variable weather that is hard to predict, making scheduling harvest difficult.  Oriol picked me up in his white truck from the train station at Cardedeu, a suburb of Barcelona, around 11am;  I spent the entire remainder day with him, his collaborators Pepe and Pilar, his family, and his friends at his winery at Mas Pellisser. It was one of the most interesting and valuable experiences in my wine career so far, and one of the most blessed days of tasting, eating, and drinking that I've ever experienced.

The Winery

Alella is beautiful, but somewhat cursed by its proximity to Barcelona. The old vineyards are being gobbled up by suburbs and beachfront vacation properties. Oriol's wines are expressions of vineyards that are under threat - or, in the case of El Monstre, already gone. Each vineyard is unique, and Oriol represents this uniqueness by bottling wines from small parcels, blending the various grape varieties present. Indeed, many of these varieties are themselves very rare and are found only in these small plots in Alella.

Oriol's operation is small and very hands-on. Harvesting and vine tending is all by hand, by necessity and by choice, the harvested grapes are quickly brought from the far flung slope and valley vineyards around Alella back to Mas Pellisser where they are pressed or allowed to ferment whole-cluster in stainless steel tanks.  The winery is not large: there's a single press (which was having problems and required constant monitoring on the day that I was there) and multiple stainless steel tanks for fermentation and resting, and a variety of accompanying vessels and tools for winemaking. It would be incorrect to call this a one-man operation, as Oriol has helpers and friends in the vineyard and the cellar, but it is certainly small-scale and manual. And, of course, these are natural wines: the various vineyards are farmed organically with a variety of practices inspired by biodynamics, there are no additions or subtractions in the winery, and everything is done by hand.

On arrival we checked in on a project that Oriol was doing with some of his enological students: Pansa Blanca from a seaside vineyard. On the 31st of August, the grapes had been macerating on their skins without temperature control for four days, slowly crushing themselves under their own weight. First, Oriol removed the oxidised top layer of skins (which smelled like nail polish remover), and we tasted the juice below, which was still very sweet but also intensely tart and mineral, grapey and citric and saline without a hint of volatile acidity. From there, he pumped the grapes and juice into the press, where they were delicately pressed and went into a small stainless steel tank to finish fermentation.

Garnatxa for El Rumbero 2019: from tank to press!

Next we tasted through the recently harvested and currently fermenting wines that were in tank: Oriol's red grapes, Garnatxa and Merlot, with varying levels of still-to-be-fermented sugars. The Garnatxa was destined for El Rumbero, Oriol's flagship red wine that is a blend of different parcels, while the Merlot would most likely go into a new bottling. These were further along in fermentation than the Pansa Blanca, but still quite sweet, just starting to show vinous characteristics like tannin. Most of the rest of the day's activity concerned the Garnatxa, which was fermenting whole cluster in stainless steel. Over the course of the day Oriol, Pepe and the rest of the team pressed this off, gently foot trodding the (partially-)carbonically-macerated grapes before adding them to the press. I helped where I could, asked questions, and explored the winery and the vineyard.

In the evening, when the pressing was mostly finished, we opened an array of bottles from the 2018 vintage (the wines on offer today) and feasted on crusty bread, fresh tomatoes and peppers from the garden, and anchovies and cheese. I don't speak or understand Catalan, but this was truly one of the most pleasant and convivial meals of my life. The 2018 wines are incredible, and I can honestly tell you that I have been talking about and waiting for their arrival for the past six months. To me, there's nothing like these wines and there's no one like Oriol.

Vines at Mas Pellisser


Eben wrote this about his visit to Oriol, and I echo his feelings:

"Oriol told me his story, how he was not a winemaker or from a winemaking family; how he developed this passion and wanted to do something to preserve the history of the region (its grapes and the unique terroirs); how he spent years (and everything he had) on this project, starting with one tank...obtaining a second one...borrowing a press...spending the last of his money keeping his dream alive, and volunteering for over six months with no pay. As he reached this point in his story, he took the air of someone who feels truly blessed and thankful for their life. He told me how Jose Pastor had met him around this time and at this crossroads moment, paid him almost a years advance for wines that were not even flowers on the vine yet. "Jose was my angel," he said, as he went on to explain that this person believing in him gave him confidence and convinced him that he wasn't crazy! When I thanked him for the visit recently, he wrote back: "Eben!! I have enjoyed a lot your visit. For me it's incredible that sombody from the other side of the world came to my home to visit me!" He is undeniably grateful for every ounce of good fortune he's had, and his pride is pure, and without ego. Oriol is of this magical place. He's the embodiment of the tranquility of this sleepy DO in the hills of Catalunya and his energy and his smile are infectious. He is truly an amazing human being, and a gifted winemaker to boot! "

Some vineyard cats

Like Eben, I was deeply effected and inspired by my visit, and I'm continually inspired by Oriol's wines. I'm extremely excited to be able to sell them and share them. The caveat is, of course, there's not very much of anything, and we probably won't be able to get any more than what we're offering today until the next vintage. And, unfortunately, these wines have all been hit with the punitive 25% tariff. I still think that they are more than worth the price.

Thank you to Oriol Artigas, Pepe and Pilar, and Liz Fayad for wines, information, hospitality, and everything else!

Ben Fletcher

Oriol Artigas 2018 Alella La Canya

La Canya is a blend of grapes from two sites: Garnatxa Blanca (80%) from a vineyard near the Mediterranean and Godello (20%) from the Mas Pelliser vineyard which surrounds Oriol's winery. The grapes are harvested at the same time, pressed together to macerate with skins for about two days, then co-fermented before raising in stainless steel tanks. Compared to the Pansa Blanca wines from Oriol, this wine shows more fruit character. The nose shows aromas of ripe apple, pear, and yellow flowers, while the palate has bright citrus and orchard fruit notes, like lemon juice squeezed on freshly-cut yellow apples. There's a salty, mineral core to the wine, which lends structure and a long finish. Ben Fletcher

  • white
  • 4 in stock
  • $34.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur
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Oriol Artigas 2018 Alella La Rumbera Blanco

Oriol Artigas organically farms 7.5 hectares of very old vines in Alella, just north of Barcelona. His approach in the vineyard is  low-impact, influenced by biodynamics: he does not do much pruning, encourages the growth of supportive plants among the vines, and follows the lunar calendar. La Rumbera comes from a selection of vineyards of old-vine Pansa Blanca, which are hand-harvested together. The grapes are destemmed, crushed, and allowed to ferment with 20% skin inclusion in stainless steel. There's no use of additives or sulfur in Oriol's small, manually operated cellar. The resulting wines are full of character: influenced by the chalk soils and marine air, and showing a slight skinsy body, there's a tension between textural richness and mineral-driven freshness. The 2018 vintage shows a delicate touch, with the palate and the nose highlighting the salt, sea air, and chalky mineral character of Pansa Blanca, with just a touch of citrus.  Ben Fletcher

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  • white
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  • $26.99

  • Organic
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Oriol Artigas 2018 Alella La Rumbera 1.5 L

Oriol Artigas organically farms 7.5 hectares of very old vines in Alella, just north of Barcelona. His approach in the vineyard is  low-impact, influenced by biodynamics: he does not do much pruning, encourages the growth of supportive plants among the vines, and follows the lunar calendar. La Rumbera comes from a selection of vineyards of old-vine Pansa Blanca, which are hand-harvested together. The grapes are destemmed, crushed, and allowed to ferment with 20% skin inclusion in stainless steel. There's no use of additives or sulfur in Oriol's small, manually operated cellar. The resulting wines are full of character: influenced by the chalk soils and marine air, and showing a slight skinsy body, there's a tension between textural richness and mineral-driven freshness. The 2018 vintage shows a delicate touch, with the palate and the nose highlighting the salt, sea air, and chalky mineral character of Pansa Blanca, with just a touch of citrus.  Ben Fletcher

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $64.99

  • Organic
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Oriol Artigas 2018 Alella La Bella

The grapes for La Bella come from a very steep, north-facing vineyard of Pansa Blanca that resembles an amphitheater with beautiful views of Barcelona. The vines in this vineyard are very old in general, and those in the La Bella plot were planted around 78 years ago. The vineyard for La Bèstia faces the vineyard for La Bella directly, but the wines show surprisingly different characters. The soils are sandy and granitic here on the Mediterranean-facing side of the mountains. The vineyard is  manually tended and harvested, and the grapes from this plot are pressed, macerated on their skins for 11 days, and raised in stainless steel tanks. The 2018 La Bella is a tremendous success, with delicate white flower and lemon zest on the nose leading to a highly mineral, granitic palate with fascinating and finely tuned textures owing to acid and tannin. The finish is long and intense, with granitic broadness, salt, and citrus all playing a major role. Very good! Ben Fletcher

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Oriol Artigas 2018 Alella La Bestia

La Bella comes from 80-year-old vines of Pansa Blanca planted on the west-facing slope of an amphitheater vineyard that looks down on the city of Barcelona. Here, across from the La Bella vineyard, the soils are dominantly gneiss. Although the two vineyards face each other, La Bella and La Bèstia are quite different wines, with Bèstia being typically more muscular and broader. Vinification is very similar to La Bella: manual harvesting, native yeast fermentation, and gentle skin contact (7 days for the Bèstia). As it has been in the past, La Bèstia is bolder with an intense nose of salted lemon. The palate is equally salty, with notes of lime juice, stone, and lots of textural intensity supplied by the acid and gentle tannins and it ends with a long, salty finish. Ben Fletcher.

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Oriol Artigas 2018 Alella La Prats

La Prats comes from a tiny 100+ year-old vineyard on granite and limestone soils next to the Mediterranean Sea. The vineyard is planted to at least 16 different grape varieties, and Oriol harvests the vineyard all together each year with his friends on the National Day of Catalunya, September 11th. The grapes are then pressed, allowed to macerate on their skins for about a day, then cofermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. The blend of white and red grapes gives this wine a pale pink color, somewhere close to rosé. The nose shows delicate notes of pomegranate, citrus and fennel. The palate is denser than the color perhaps suggests, with salty minerality, citrus and pomegranate balanced by gentle tannins and refreshing acidity. As always, a fascinating wine! Ben Fletcher

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  • rosé
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Oriol Artigas 2018 Alella Lloritu

Lloritu is a new wine from Oriol Artigas, named for a commonly eaten fish in the Mediterranean. The grapes for this wine come from an old vineyard located about 50 meters from the Mediterranean which was planted to Jaque, a fascinating hybrid grape also known as Black Spanish in the United States. According to Jancis Robinson, this variety can most likely trace its history back to French Huguenot colonies around the Savannah river, and an accidental crossing between the native American Vitis Aestivalis and the imported European Vitis vinifera. Once widespread in Europe (especially the south of France, where it still forms a part of the Cuvée des Vignes d'Antan) and the United States, it is now common only in Brazil. For Lloritu, Oriol harvests his Jaque grapes then macerates them for a single night on their skins before fermentation with natural yeasts and resting in stainless steel tank. The resulting wine has a beautiful bright pink translucent hue, and a nose of tart cherry, anise and fennel. The palate is light, fresh, and salty, with cherry and pomegranate notes around a mineral core. Ben Fletcher

  • Out of Stock
  • red
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  • $64.99

  • Organic
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Oriol Artigas 2018 Alella El Monstre

2018 is, very sadly, the last vintage of El Monstre. The vineyard of 70-year-old vines of Pansa Negra and Pansa Blanca plantd on granite and limstone was sold and is destined to be torn up. In this final vintage as in previous years, Oriol harvested the grapes by hand, then allowed a gentle maceration on the skins before co-fermentation with natural yeasts and resting in stainless steel tanks. The wine shows delicate notes of red fruits and sea salt on the nose, with a light and fresh palate of pomegranate, strawberry, and long granitic minerality. This is a beautiful farewell to a very special vineyard. Ben Fletcher

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  • red
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  • Organic
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Oriol Artigas 2018 Alella Bardissots La Grita

Oriol Artigas collaborates with two local winemakers, Pepe and Pilar, on the Bardissots project: this wine comes from a vineyard of 80-year-old Parellada near Montblanc (outside of Allela) that belongs to Pilar's family. Parellada is always light, and in the wet and cool 2018 vintage this wine only clocks in at around 9% alcohol. La Grita is aged under flor in stainless steel tanks for six months, giving it a slight oxidative quality. The wine shows notes of fennel and anise against a faintly oxidative background on the nose, while the palate is very light, with notes of citrus and flor around a core of refreshing acidity. Definitely a wine for the adventurous, but truly pleasurable and refreshing! Ben Fletcher

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  • white
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Oriol Artigas 2018 Alella Bardissots L'O

The Bardissots wines are a collaborative project between Oriol and two local winemakers, Pepe and Pilar. L'O is 100% Pansa Blanca, from the coolest part of a steep amphitheater vineyard planted on granite soils. The grapes are harvested by hand, then macerate on their whole clusters for one week before native yeast fermentation and resting in a single 200L neutral oak barrel. This has vibrant, intense acidity and a nice, skinsy texture with gentle tannins complementing notes of lemon zest, salt and granitic minerality. Ben Fletcher

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  • white
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Oriol Artigas 2018 Alella Bardissots Beier

Oriol Artigas, together with Pepe and Pilar under the Bardissots label, bottles the only 100% Beier wine in the world, from the only vineyard of the variety that is left anywhere. Well, the older gentleman who owns the vineyard also makes some wine from it, for his own personal consumption - but other than that, this is it. Beier means bee-house, and the history of the grape is likely intertwined with beekeeping. The grapes are hand harvested, fermented whole-cluster, then left on the skins for about 11 days, before resting in stainless steel. The wine is dark pink in the glass, with aromas of brambly red raspberry, fennel, and salt, while the palate shows intense, bright notes of red currant, tart cherry, salt, and earthy minerality. Ben Fletcher

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  • red
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Oriol Artigas 2018 Alella Bardissots Besavia

The grapes for Besavia come from an 80-year-old vineyard planted with at least 8 different grape varieties (white and red) on granitic sandy soils. The grapes are all harvested together, by hand, then fermented whole-cluster and left to macerate with the skins for 11 days before resting in stainless steel tank. The wine is bright red in the glass, with notes of violet, red fruits and fennel on the nose and a vibrant, intense palate of tart cranberry, sour cherry, salt, and granitic minerality. Tasting all of Oriol's 2018 wines together, this (from his collaboration with Pepe and Pilar) was one of the most impressive. Ben Fletcher

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  • red
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Oriol Artigas 2018 Alella 3 Porcs! 1.5L

3 Porcs! is an annual (magnum-only!) collaboration between Oriol, Francesc Ferre from Cellar Frisach, and Albert Domingo Navarro of Celler Tuets. This year, it is a blend of equal parts Tempranillo (from Albert), Carignan (from Francesc) and Pansa Blanca (from Oriol). This is the only wine of the line-up that I've not been able to try, but I will report back when I get the chance! Ben Fletcher

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  • red
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Oriol Artigas 2016 Alella La Bestia

La Bèstia is Pansa Blanca from a very steep, west-facing vineyard called Vinya d'En Mundu. Soils here are Gneiss, and vines are almost 80 years old. The grapes are destemmed and there are five days of skin contact, but Oriol doesn't pump over or punch down, preferring an infusion style. Since the berries have very thick skins, he didn't want to extract too much tannin during maceration. There's a subtle oxidative lean to the wine, mixed with the characteristic saline quality inherent to Pansa Blanca. Delicate, but enveloping and layered with light tannin, and a mineral finish.Tasting this again in November of 2019, it has come together really beautifully - showing more stability and more intensity. A great expression of Pansa Blanca with skin contact.

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