It seems that we have a cult wine on our hands that no one knows about. Well, at least no one outside of Spain that is. In 2001 Raül Bobet headed up into the Catalan Pyrenees in search for land that would be protected from the increasing temperatures common in the more established DOs in Catalunya. While exploring this alpine terrain of Costers del Segre, he discovered traces of ancient winemaking in the form of stone lagars carved into the very bedrock a few kilometers outside the small town of Talarn. Taking this as a sign, he chose this spot to be the location of what would become Castell d’Encús.
At 1000 meters in altitude, farming at Castell d’Encús is an interesting proposition. Surrounded by mountains, the site is prone to snow, frost, and attacks by ravenous birds so extensive that steps must be taken to protect the vines and fruit from the depredations of nature. As is the case with other regions where the vines struggle to thrive, the finished wines benefit from the suffering. Despite the youthfulness of the vineyards, the finished wines are remarkably complex and nuanced, and show the potential of moving back to places long abandoned. Because the climate is so extreme, Raül has selected more northerly varieties to cultivate: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Riesling and Albariño. What indigenous varieties were planted up here so long ago will never be known, and it seems that he’s doing just fine with these – as recently remarked by Luis Guiterrez, “These are some of the most exciting new wines throughout Spain.”