Wine Culture Connection
The Micro-Vineyard Project
The Micro-Vineyard project (officially MicroVinya® or MicroViña®) is committed to rescuing and restoring small vineyard plots across Mediterranean Europe and making them economically viable. It is an initiative of a broader movement to defend the Mediterranean ecosystem, culture, and arts, officially a non-profit association called Elviart.
Before founding Celler la Muntanya Toni Boronat and Juan Cascant were heavily involved in Elviart, and participated in the international Elviart congresses. Juan is currently President of Elviart and speaks regularly around the world about both Elviart and the Micro-Vineyard movement.
The MicroVinya® project offers practical help and information to those interested in restoring and making small vineyard wine production viable. They also offer a Micro-Vineyard certification to wineries that meet the criteria developed by MicroVinya® for ethical wine production respectful of the local ecosystem.
Although the MicroVineyard movement is still in its youth, Celler la Muntanya was the pioneering winery to receive MicroVinya® certification. Other wineries in Spain and France have received certification or have shown interest in becoming MicroVinyes wineries.
Below are some of the aims of the movement:
Wine and Art
While some may find the connection between wine and art a bit of a stretch, it makes plenty of sense within the context of Mediterranean history and culture; more broadly in the context of Western Culture, especially considering the sacramental place of wine in many Western religious ceremonies.
Each Celler la Muntanya wine features an historic or notable poem on the label. Here the connection is not so much religious as how wine is an integral part of the rhythms of life in Mediterranean culture:
From the Albir Label:
From the Lluire Albir Label:
From the Negre Label:
From the Dolç Label:
Translated from the Valenciano into English by María Alvarez and Justin Berlin.
Celler la Muntanya
They began by rescuing, restoring and sometimes replanting abandoned and neglected local vineyards. The next step in seeing their vision come to reality was the creation of their own small winery in 2005. Their focus from the start was to restore the cultural values and the ecosystem of their home town region, Muro, which is in the Comtat Valley situated in the mountains of Alicante—south of Valencia and inland from Spain's eastern Mediterranean coast.
At its core, the concept is simple: source grapes from a mix of outstanding local micro-vineyards and create high quality wines at a small, centralized winery with the help of world class experts. Include organic practices, respect for tradition and pay each of the local growers fair rates for the quality of their produce and you have an ecologically, culturally and economically sustainable circle of wine production. And that is what Celler la Muntanya is all about.
Later joining the team on a more day to day basis were, José Luis's son, Adrià Pérez Ovejero, a star winemaker and viticulturist in his own right at Priorat's Cims de Porerra, and José Luis's nephew Marc Pérez Pérez, a highly skilled winemaker and viticulturist at Priorat's Mas Martinet.
Adria serves as Technical Coordinator ensuring that all technical work is done with the precision required to produce world class wine and Marc manages tasting and sensory control, which is especially important due to the diversity of plots and grape varieties they work with.
The winery works with more than 35 different micro-vineyards in the area. They include: “Viña El Gallego”, “Viña del Boro”, “Viña de Eladio”, “Viña El Tunel”, “Viña del Cesar”, Viña Malvasia de Pepe” Each plot has its own name and distinctive character and all are tended employing organic practices. Many are very old—as much as 100 years old, some perhaps older but without documentation.
White grape varieties include: Malvasía, Meseguera, Macabeo, and Garnacha Blanca. Red varieties include: Garnatxa (Garnacha/Grenache), Giró/Garnatxa del país (local strains of Garnacha/Grenache), Monastrell (Mourvèdre), Garnatxa Tintorera (Alicante Bouche), Bobal, Bonicaire (rescued from disappearance in the region). Each plot is manually harvested. Each variety is vinified separately in small tanks, using natural yeasts, gravity without pumping over and soft or no filtration. The winery also produces organic, fair trade olive oils.
The region had been a successful wine producer and flourished after Phylloxera struck France in the 1870s. But demand for fine wine waned once French vineyards began to recover around the turn of the century. The decisive blow occurred in 1911 when Phylloxera struck Muro, devastating wine production. Higher quality, lower yielding vineyards were abandoned or uprooted, leaving primarily lower quality, high yielding vineyards as the last remnants of production in the area, primarily to supply local coops with bulk wine.
Now more than 100 years since Phylloxera struck Muro, recovery of its fine wine tradition is finally on track thanks in large part to the passion and efforts of Celler la Muntanya.
Celler la Muntanya has received recognition and support from Slow Food València, the regional chapter of Italy's Slow Food movement, for their sustainable and ecologically responsible vineyard work and philosophy. They have also received impressive reviews from leading wine publications, including the Peñin Guide in Spain, and Wine & Spirits magazine in the US.
The power of Toni and Juan's vision and their pioneering efforts to make it a reality have also put Celler la Muntanya in the forefront of the burgeoning Micro-vineyard movement. See the Wine Culture Connection at right for more on Juan's leadership in the Micro-vineyard movement in Spain and the world.For those interested in wines that are truly expressive of their place of origin—encompassing both centuries of tradition and the best of modern methods—the wines of Celler la Muntanya offer a profound look into the heart of Mediterranean Spain.
Albir 2010, White
Lliure Albir 2009, White
Negre 2009, Red
Dolç 2009, Sweet White 375ml
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