LaFou Celler: a story of falling in love
LaFou Celler, DO Terra Alta, is located in the town centre of Batea, in an 18th century manor house, Casa Figueras. Its 15 hectares of vineyards are located in the north of the municipality, on the border with Aragon. Grenache and Terra Alta have stolen their hearts, they have fallen in love with it.
LaFou Celler was born out of two love affairs. Ramon Roqueta, oenologist and owner of the winery, comes from a long winemaking tradition. His family has a winery in Pla de Bages, where they are from, and they have been involved in the world of vines and wine since the 12th century. The story of LaFou began when Roqueta, after studying agricultural engineering, went to France to study oenology.
While doing an internship in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape area in Provence, he discovered a different way of working Grenache. “The Grenache internship in this area, which is one of the most prestigious in France, even in the world, revealed to me a style of Grenache wine, black and white, very elegant and very fresh. I came back in love with this variety,” he explains. It was there that he fell in love with it for the first time, which led him to embark on a project he had in mind.
Once he was clear about the project he wanted to undertake, Roqueta looked for the land where to do it. This is where the second love affair was born: “Terra Alta stole my heart: its landscape and the characteristics offered by the territory, such as its orography, the climate and the type of soil,” Roqueta explains “Terra Alta is the land of Garnacha.” On the advice of local oenologists, he looked for a place where viticulture could excel. “We were looking for a vineyard in a higher area, much more ventilated, oriented from north to south, because it favours air circulation and taking into account that the cierzo blows here constantly,” he says.
The ‘fous’, vineyards between walls
Roqueta comments that he baptised the winery with the name Lafou to pay homage to the land that is home to them. “Terra Alta,” he explains, “millions of years ago was bathed by the sea. Over time, these narrow valleys, called ‘fous’, have been formed, where man has made terraces to retain water and to plant vines. The ‘fous’ identify the area and we liked the name for the winery because it explains where we are from.”
LaFou Celler’s vineyards are located on terraces, and have dry stone walls, a characteristic construction of the area, of which the winery claims to be a fan. Their function is key to maintaining the terrace, which retains water, so vital in a dry land. “Moreover, they identify our landscape and the agricultural landscape that exists in Europe, which is not found in the New World, where the landscape stands out for its vegetation. The agricultural landscape is a landscape forged by man for centuries,” Roqueta observes.
Morenillo, the character of the Terra Alta region
LaFou Celler’s 15 hectares are planted with Garnatxa Blanca, Garnatxa Negra, Garnatxa Peluda, Syrah, Carignan and Morenillo. It is precisely the morenillo variety that is typical of Terra Alta. Ramon Roqueta is proud to have helped to recover it. “There were few vines left in some corners of the region. We have had to work hard to make the variety, which was consumed a long time ago, be recognised again. We have had to re-register it, because it had been removed from the varietal catalogues managed by the administration.”
However, Garnacha continues to be the star variety of the winery. “All the wines we make,” says Ramon Roqueta, “have at least 80 percent Garnacha.” In fact, this year the winery has won the Vinari Gran Oro 2021 award in the young white wine category with the wine LaFou Els Amelers 2020, which is 100% white Grenache. The award was presented to the winery by Natàlia Cugueró, CEO of 11Onze, the company sponsoring the event.
Regenerative agriculture, a philosophy
Despite the fact that its products do not have an organic farming seal, the winery practices the philosophy of regenerative agriculture. “The wine sector lives from the landscape and we work to make it sustainable. The study of soil exhaustion is key, because it is what will determine the life of the plant 30 years from now. The objective of our work has to go beyond obtaining a label. The way we treat the soil, where the roots of the plant are, is what will determine its future, because that is where the microbial flora is, the soil is spongy, rich, alive and fertile,” he argues.
LaFou Celler exports 25% of its produce. The rest, Roqueta explains, is sold domestically. “The local customer is the most important thing for us. They are the ones who have helped us to grow,” he says. Making first-class wines is the winery’s goal, and Terra Alta makes it easy for them to do so. “Batea has welcomed us very well. We are happy to have contributed to renewing the style of wine that was made here and to make the area’s winemaking heritage known. Now, the region has a feeling of pride and more love for the region’s flagship variety and for the land that is home to it,” Roqueta asserts.
The winery also expresses the love it feels for the region and Batea with wine tourism activities, with which, in addition to showing first-hand the work they do in the winery and in the vineyards, they invite visitors to stroll through the streets of the village. Since 2007 LaFou Celler, in love with Grenache and Terra Alta, has been working to achieve a product that stands out for its quality.
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Com sempre l’historia es sorprenent i preciosa,el vi de batea quins records,quina peneta ja s’acabat aquest espai de les DO,i ara amb el cercador només cal posar DO i voilà alli estan totes per tornar assoborir els vons amb aquets fantastics articles
Gràcies per la teva il·lusió i els teus comentaris a La Plaça, Alícia!
Aquests articles que ens ajuden a conèixer millor el país i la seva gent, m’interessen i m’agraden
Gràcies, Francesc per fer-nos-ho saber!
He tastat els vins d’aquest celler, m’agraden.
Gràcies Pere pel teu comentari!
Batea i vi, per a mi havien sigut mots equivalents, quan el vi es venia a granel i no era com ara, es clar. Contenta del canvi, de que es faci un vi més fresc. Segur que l´agricultura regenerativa hi te a veure. Sòl esponjat, ric i viu: La terra. Gràcies
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