We go to the other side of the river. We jump the Ebre towards the west, towards the border of west and we go until Pinell de Brai near Serra de Pàndols and Serra de Cavalls to know Laureano Serres winery cellar. Behind the brand Medall, which was the name of his mother’s home, Laureano produces and above all export natural wines made in a traditional way and taking care of the land and nature? His fame precedes him, some people call him the wise and the philosopher and the French. My impression is being in front a man who is himself and he has accepted the challenge of looking at life face to face and going ahead with the teachings that life gave him. And the challenge he has faced is not trivial. In the middle of a region really wine-growing, controlled by big firms and some industrial ways in doing things, Laureano is the bearer of ecological and human agriculture. He is a special character in front of whom we run the risk of losing of sight our main objective which is to discover and learn about Escola del Cru in our country. Certainly he is one of those people who transmit some energy and a passion that with some difficulty can be got through the written words. The challenge is double: to explain in a simple way the wine production, bounded to the special feature of the place and at the same time transmitting a passionate and transgressor philosophy of life. For this chapter we have chosen the strategy of being good listeners, so we are listening and paying attention. Laureano Serres know the French culture around the place and the expression of the place through the wine. It’s in the neighboring country, cradle of enology where he has learnt some ways of doing, communicating and understanding the world of wine from there and from his experience. He talks us with enthusiasm about the importance of the intuition, the challenge of learning as a source of knowledge. He as his wines are alive, he shows energy in transformation. His maxim is that the wine is the water that the plant distils: H2O vegetal. So, he practices a non-aggressive agricultural where we want the plant makes its deep roots and adapts itself to the place avoiding to reproduce the artificial conditions to the environment where they live- the water they drink is the water we drink-while we are visiting the fields, it’s fascinating to listen to him, more than explaining some ideas, he breathes knowledge flow. Laureano knows:
Many wines from the country have some taste of cooking, because they are like broth. What is it when you have some water and throw things and then you boil it? You get some broth. But if you leave that water is only processed by the plant, what you have is vegetal water. If you throw insecticide and pesticide or if we throw things to the winery then we have boiled water, wine. What we suggest is vegetal water, a H2O molecule processed only by the plant. That’s sure; the emerged wine has to be good because people have to buy it. What is the purest water
we have? The purest water we have is that from the rain. The plant absorbs the water and with the good elements taken by the water is its food. The emerged wine will be this water and with the yeast of the air and the sugar that the plant makes. What is the best expression of the earth? Not throwing anything and paying attention what comes up. I look the grapes are under the shadow, they are not hot. I look that the ripening is slow, not trying to make kilos, that the grapes are loosed. I’m interested in around the vine there are many varieties of plants, their roots don’t compact the earth where the water is filtered and then they give organic substance that feeds the earth. The grasses roots and the different native plants have a maximum of forty centimeters and a vine that can reach forty meters; we go to look for the maximum towards the bottom. I’m very happy when in a vine field I find eight nests.
We go to a place of macro-productions in order to be industrial and produce a lot of kilograms. I can make a lot of kilograms but I have to water what water do we have? That from the Ebre river and is this the best water we have? If you throw herbicide today and tomorrow I come and I say to you to throw out it, you can’t. To respect the earth and this is alive. My feeling is the elements appeared in the fields are necessary, all the elements provide something to the plant. The biodynamic, if you do it in order to work it, is the illusion that makes things become well. I think that everybody can live; the world is not made not to be able to live. And making things in this way we get some wines that we would never think they could be and this illusions makes you go ahead with patience and dedication. If you lose the illusion and the ability of surprising yourself, then you are lost.
It’s very significant that Laureano’s brand is the name of his mother’s family. You think about the care and the mother earth, the social, political, aesthetic and spiritual deal against an ordered universe from the characteristics of the femininity. Absorbed in the taste, tasting the young wines and with some effervescent notes, the conversation takes us to talk about the alchemy and a certain cosmic sense that goes at the background of the image: the glass of wine, the farmer, the vineyards, the nature, the legacy and the concentric circles. It’s a moment for the contemplation of the human being.
-Laureano, if you had to plant vineyards, what variety of vineyard would you grow?
- If I had to plant some vineyards, I wouldn’t plant syrah or merlot. This is earth for Grenache of the country, earth of Carinyena and in white wines the Grenache works perfectly but maybe I would chose the Macabeu one.
We open a bottle of white wine, 100% Macabeu, it comes from a calcareous earth at 470 meters high at Guiu between Vilalba and Corbera, in the hearth of Terra Alta. This was bottling some days ago and it has a point of
oxidation- this is because the wine isn’t touched. It’s not an embalmed body, it’s alive as a person who oxidizes and changes. In the mouth it is pure, bright, fresh and dry when we find the walnuts and any other nuts. A wine from the south, warm and Mediterranean. Depending on the area, the Macabeu can go from these own registers of the calcareous earth to some more fruity profiles in some clay fields. What we drink is a wine which at first it expresses the power of wines from here, but at the second sip it caresses with a light tone of almond shell. The fluidity stands out the taste, the low density, typical characteristic of Medall wines, remembers us persistently that we are drinking vegetal water. Laureano adds that the difference of doing so is that the wines lose the alcohol so characteristic of Terra Alta.
We are talking about Macabeu, he explains us that in this area it’s an undervalued variety-It’s used to do blendings because it is a sheer variety that if you put some of another variety, it is tilted. It seems it hasn’t got personality. On the other hand, in Rioja, the “viura” as it’s called there, has been taken under consideration and they produce great reserve wines. Producing the Macabeu, I find some grapes that they give you some very nice fruity taste. It has got things that make it unique, you have to let it alone and it has to express itself.
If we make a little research they explain us that Macabeu is a productive vine of long and joined of green ripening. It’s a variety of clear, medium and round grape. The grape is round and big, it’s very sweet, of a golden color, a bit white and its skin is very fine. It makes a sweet and fruity wine. “The ampelonimia” tells us that its name comes from an association with the hagiography. The festival of the Maccabees Martyrs is celebrated at first of August; it indicates for the Macabeu grapes is a date of green ripening. It’s a very widespread variety in all the basin of the Ebre and in The Penedés they use it to make the blending of the cava. As they affirm,it’s an autochthonous variety of Catalonia and its origin gets lost at night.
After this lesson in the purest style of Escola del Cru, Laureano takes us on with his provocative style. Any grapes in anywhere can have a very original expression. I can bet for some local varieties, but if I have some vines of cabernet sauvignon, I can produce a spectacular wine. In the end what it expresses is the earth. I see, what is there here? Then we go from what there is and he continues working. Life goes on, life doesn’t finish in “now I’m here, I stop and I write a book”- this reflection gives me an idea: there is where new and genuine knowledge is generated and where some contradictions and paradoxes appear. The premises are clear, the purposes are well delimited, and the road is tortuous and unpredictable. The certainties are the result of the audacity.