If you are in the Alt Emporda area of Catalonia, we recommend you make a visit to a fantastic family owned organically run winery high in the hills close to Port de la Selva, Mas Estela. Mas Estella is owned by Didier and Nuria Dalmau and run by them and their sons. Nuria speaks English as well as Catalan, Spanish and French so some way to communicate their exceptional story will certainly be found! Not only do they produce wines which get the highest ratings (Parker 93 points etc) but the location of the winery is sublime. Tucked in a valley within the Cap de Creus natural park and only 3 kms from the Meditteranean sea with it's moderating influence and near the charming village of Selva de Mar. If you don´t know the way to Mas Estella, this winery is hard to find and the road to it somewhat hairy, but what a joy when you finally do arrive!
The family came here in 1988 and bought a large ruin with some 20 hectares of valley and scrub land with steep slopes on either side. Having rebuilt their house, they planted the terraces with varieties such as Syrah, Monastrell and Garnatxa Gris to complement the Garnatxa, Cariñena and Muscat which already existed. Mas Estela is an organic vineyard, which also applies biodynamic principles which look at the cycles of the moon to interact with the soil or when to work on the vines or add natural fertilizer. This means that the environment is not polluted by any type of chemical and as such the whole variety and diversity of organic, insect and wildlife is preserved and encouraged creating a truly healthy environment for the production of their wines.
During the spring and early summer, with all the wild flowers, fennel, wild asparagus and flowering yellow broome walking here is a real pleasure. The soil on the slopes is poor and made up mainly of brown slate which means that the young plants need to work hard and put down deep roots to look for any moisture they can. Eventually the roots could go down 5-6 metres and that is when you will really get the mineral flavours so much appreciated by wine lovers. The only animal that is not welcome, at least not in the vineyard, is the wild boar which roam these mountains and that can strip entire rows in hours when the grapes are ripe and ready for harvesting.
Mas Estela is truly a delight to visit and though exceedingly small has a great heart!
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