Massimo Marchiori and Antonella Gerona of Partida Creus are doing some really cool stuff. Located in Catalonia, Partida Creus is producing fascinating natural wines in miniscule quantities. We’re very lucky to have secured an allocation of their newest wines to share with you all! To give you a bit more background on Partida Creus and their fascinating story, this installment of Behind The Vines is all about our favourite Italian winemaking duo making natural wines in Spain.
The Early Days
Massimo and Antonella are an Italian couple who initially moved from Piedmont to Barcelona to pursue their architecture careers. They soon grew tired of city life, however, and ended up moving to the countryside of Massis de Bonastre (Baix Penedes) in 2000 to start a new chapter. They began farming various local foods and, not being able to find local wines that matched their tastes, began making some wine for their own personal consumption. They caught the wine bug and grew the operation with a new mission—to recover old vines of local grape varieties. As members of the Slow Food movement, they immediately applied the same philosophies of eating locally and preserving cultures to winemaking. Sadly, many of the local grapes in the area have been nearing extinction, with winemakers trading local varietals for more international ones. Massimo and Antonella began searching for abandoned, wild, old vineyards planted with heritage varieties to revive. They weren’t too difficult to find. Driving from Barcelona to Baix Penedes, there are swaths of wild vines growing everywhere you look. Many of these vineyards were once a thriving home to varietals native to the area. Upon finding an abandoned vineyard, Massimo and Antonella would go to the nearby town to find out who the owner is and purchase it. Massimo and Antonella acquired a small collection of vines, and fell in love with producing wines from these near extinct local varietals. They found an old agricultural building to renovate and converted it into a wine cellar. In the reconstruction process, the couple employed recycled materials to rebuild the structure. They soon had a full winemaking operation. Massimo and Antonella named the project Partida Creus, which is a reference to the crosses used for separating holdings in the past.
Partida Creus works with a large number of vines, making wine from dozens of native grape varieties. When vines are old, however, they yield a smaller crop. Thus, Partida Creus ends up with only small quantities of each variety. Most winemakers seeking to make a profit avoid low-yielding vines, opting instead for vigorous crops. Partida Creus thus had its pick of fascinating old, local varieties. Low crops also make for highly concentrated and high quality wines. Partida Creus has small plots of land with narrow vines, impossible for machines to pass through. Instead, everything is hand harvested. Antonella and Massimo employ the help of a donkey and a horse when working the vineyard. Practices like these allow Partida Creus to make traditional and environmentally friendly wines. In the vineyard, Massimo and Antonella draw upon their Slow Food philosophy again, respecting nature and honoring the traditions of the land. They are practicing organic and do not use any chemical treatments on the vines. They make viticultural decisions based upon the biodynamic calendar and moon phases. The soil in the Massis de Bonastre is characterized by clay and limestone soils. Massimo and Antonella believe in letting the terroir and character of the grapes sing without interference.
In the cellar, Massimo and Antonella’s low intervention approach carries through. Nothing is added to the wine once it arrives in the cellar. Fermentation is undergone with the native yeasts present in the grapes. No fining or filtering takes place, as Massimo and Antonella want to stay as true to the natural product as possible. No sulfur is added. Partida Creus focuses on grapes that are not recognized by the nearby Penedes D.O. but are deserving of recognition nonetheless. Instead of focusing on the international varieties that had begun to take over, Massimo and Antonella make wines from varieties such as Garrut, Vinyater, Samso, and Queixal de Llop. All of their wines are made in a fresh and pure style that showcases each variety. It’s a little ironic that Massimo and Antonella’s philosophy is so focused on reviving local Spanish traditions when they themselves are from Italy. But Partida Creus wines have shown locals the beauty of their own backyard. We hope that Partida Creus inspires a movement of conservation of these indigenous varieties, because they are too fascinating and delicious to see die off.