Visiting Grand Reconsind in the far north-east of Catalunya, you can’t help but feel like you have entered a museum. It is, in fact, a mini museum of sorts, charting the family history of this wine estate, which is today managed by 5th generation winemaker, Xavier Santamaria-Bech. The records here go as far back as the 1680s, indicating family involvement in viticulture. His ancestors, the Artiza family first started to produce wine in the 1800s. The family’s greatest pride and joy, the ‘Medal of Perfection’ received by Gregori Artizu in 1877 at the National Wine Exposition, still adores the label of the titular wine. A library of well-preserved old letters includes a thank you note from Manuel Raventos (from our very own Raventos i Blanc, then of Cordoniu) thanking Gregori for his efforts and research on phylloxera during the late 1800s, when he was a recognised expert in this field.
Although now shunning modernity in the name of traditional winemaking, in its heyday Grand Recosind was a bit of a trendsetter! In 1955 the Artizas acquired the first vaslin press in Catalunya, for instance, and in 1980 released the first aged wine from Emporda (a region largely known for rose production) and introduced the first barriques. Their wines were once as well regarded as Vega Sicilia in the now more famous Ribera del Duero. But, whilst the fame (and prices) of Vega Sicilia continued to increase, Grand Recosind remained a small, largely unknown but very affordable wine.
Today the winery owns 12 ha of vineyards in the village of Capmany, mostly facing south to protect the vines from the influence of the northern Tramuntana wind that blows from the mountains. Whilst previously trained as bush vines and very low to the ground, nowadays the vines are trained to cordon royat and planted at a density of 3500 plants/ha, which allows for the use of tractors but also lessens the occurrence of disease. From these vineyards they produce their Grand Recosind ‘Crianza Classica’, a blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo, Cariñena, Cabernet Sauvignon and Macabeo which is aged for 5 years prior to release and represents great value for money! After fermentation, the wine is put underground into cement tanks and there it rests, under a blanket of nitrogen and CO2, for 3 years until it is ready to be blended and go into barrique for a further year of ageing. These barriques are never topped up and never opened in order to avoid ingress of oxygen and represent a mix of new and old oak.
There is no doubt that Grand Recosind is a bodega that is very traditional and proud of its past and not easily swayed by modern fads. Well, as far as we’re concerned….traditional is back in!