Carlos Alonso / Carriel dels Vilars
Els Vilars (Espolla), Catalonia
When it comes to natural farming and winemaking Carlos Alonso is one of the most established and experienced people in Europe.
His story is quite remarkable, such that the first time I visited his home high in the northern catalan hills, I really didn't want to leave.
Carlos left the city and a job in finance, in the late '70s and moved here to the abandoned hamlet of Els Vilars to begin making wine. His talent for banking was matched by his talent for working with stone, and building in general, and over the next few years he completely restored this centuries old settlement of roughly 5 dwellings. The dwellings were built in to the side of the slope and when Carlos discovered them at the end of a narrow, winding road they were nothing but shells. He went on to completely rebuild them by hand and subsequently raise his family here.
However, his extraordinary capacity for stone work was soon surpassed by his aptitude for working with nature and farming totally transfixing wines.
Today, Carlos farms 2.5 hectares of extremely hardy vines, that he planted, and makes maybe the most distinctive wines I've tasted. His production is based largely on sparkling wine and he generally makes one cuvee of red wine each year also. In production, he has Parellada, Macabeo, Xarel-lo, Grenache Blanc, Grenache, Cabernet, Syrah and Samso.
His wines are ripe, relaxed and very complex. His miniscule production allows him to make wines with absolute precision and the majority of wines have lengthy elevage - in some cases more than 5 or 6 years.
I simply can't recommend these gastronomic wines highly enough. They're the work of incredibly brilliant and hard working man who is literally one of the godfathers of natural wine in Europe. We're very excited!!