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Oriol Artigas

On the land bordering the Mediterranean coastline of Catalunya, just outside of Barcelona, Oriol Artigas tends vineyards in one of the smallest appellations of Spain, Alella, which is home to just 220 hectares of vines. Despite being a small appellation, it is steeped in history and dates back to Roman times.

Still today it represents a wealth of historic and genetic diversity, and it is from the region’s treasures — its old vines — that Oriol produces his soulful cuvées. Through a deep love for organic and regenerative viticulture, he is working to preserve both the genetic diversity that exists in his vineyards, as well as to ensure that his soils are healthy and thriving.

We caught up with him on his recent visit to London in April 2022.

Header photograph by Tom D Morgan for Dynamic Vines.

Photo by Tom D Morgan for Dynamic Vines

People: Oriol Artigas

Place: Alella, Catalunya, Spain

Varieties: Pansa Blanca (Xarel-lo), Grenache Noir, Pansa Negra, Pansa Rosada, Godello, Garnacha Blanca, Picapoll (very similar to the French Clairette, yet it is not yet certain whether it is identical or closely related), Syrah, Merlot, Mataro (Mourvèdre), Sumoll, Muscat Negre, Beier, Grenache Gris, Sant Jaume, Malvasia, Muscat, Bona Llavor, ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Macabeu, Subirat Parent (Alarije). Additionally, there are more indigenous (and perhaps even unknown) varieties present in smaller numbers, which Oriol is working to understand and preserve

Farming: Organic with regenerative methods

Hectares: 15 hectares 

Did You Know? Oriol works across works across three main terroirs. ‘Sauló’ is composed of granite, from the mountains, and sand. ‘Les Prats,’ located closer to the sea, is chalky, with a high number of fossilised seashells, oysters and cockles on the soil, on top of granite bedrock. ‘Licorella’ is brown schist; a mineral and volcanic type of soil.

Oriol’s first commercial vintage took place in 2011. Through years of experimenting, he has now found the methods that suit his personal vision of wine and the fruit from his region — gentle maceration for the reds, and varying short periods of skin contact for the whites — using stainless steel, amphorae and old oak barrels. He also makes delicious pét-nat to highlight what his fruit can achieve in terms of bubbles. He doesn’t add sulfites, nor does he fine or filter any of his wines. These are Catalonian grapes in their birthday suits. Oriol says,

“In my first vintage, when I was working in the winery I hated adding sulfites, as they smell really bad. It just doesn’t feel good. I like this life as a winemaker, but I don’t want to die doing it! Sometimes you just have the sensation that you’re adding something really toxic. So, I became focused on looking for wines that didn’t have that kind of intervention, and that’s how I found natural and biodynamic wines. That’s when I realised that I couldn’t make wines like that by using the methods I had learnt at school. That was hard for me, as I thought… am I doing something bad? Is my terroir just not good? But I knew that the Romans had chosen my region to grow vines, so therefore the terroir must be good. So, I began to break all the rules I had learnt at school.”

We ask him how having a scientific background influences his approach in the winery:

“Knowledge is always good. Having knowledge in chemistry is like having another point of view. When I look at wine, chemistry isn’t necessarily adding something. Rather, you understand what’s happening inside the wine, and why that changes the wine. You can play with the stems or the skins, all the different parts of the grapes. It’s like cooking… you think, I can combine this with that, perhaps that will give something softer without adding anything.

It's an endless journey of discovery and learning, which comes about from tinkering with the natural processes of fermentation and ageing. We ask him what he’s currently working on:

“At the moment, I’m very focused on...

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Ready to delve further into the vineyards of Alella, near Barcelona, through organic and regenerative farming and natural winemaking?


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