May 1, 2012

René Barbier, Penedes, Spain

By In Vineyard & Wine Travel
Sadly you cant, as a member of the ‘public’ visit this impressive Moet-built and Moet-soon-sold vineyard-surrounded edifice. This is the winery for the René Barbier range of wines, one of the properties of the Freixenet group.

One leaves with the impression that here, the slickly professional Freixenet people, are really not geared up for visitors. We saw just a smidge of the buildings interior, which incidentally has oddly element-exposed open upper floors, bar the reception room. A wander out to the front gates and the vineyards was about as far as a ‘tour’ gets.

Which isn’t to say the visit was dull. Far from it. The chap pointing at the board is Toni Domènech Pujol, head of Public Relations for Freixenet. His introduction to René Barbier had two main strands – firstly the choice of grape varieties (mainly local such as Xarel-lo, Macabeo, Parellada) and at what elevations they perform best at and secondly the implementation and use of ‘sexual confusion’ methods to dissuade those pesky insects (the vine moth, Lobesia Botrana) that like to plant their eggs in grapes which in turn cause rot in the grapes. And rot in grapes here is generally not liked! Certainly not by Toni and his crew.

Little strips of pheromone leaking plastic and dead insects in the capture points don’t make for interesting photographs, even with my highly developed skills! Vines are highly photogenic in comparison; although maybe not through my view-finder in the face of a chilling wind.

While not a 100% fail-safe method of vine protection this ‘sexual-confusion’ technique must have some positive results seeing as Sebastià Raventós Pascual, head of ‘greening’ at Freixenet has rolled-out the technique to other vineyards in the group, replacing the use of insecticides. Other environmental activities include lighter glass bottles (Freixenet cava bottles are 20g lighter than standard Champagne bottles) and water recycling inluding their own purification plants that, well, cleans the waste water before returning it to the municipal supply.

The view of the tree-lined drive way is the entrance to the winery, the building being behind you. On the right, just after the speed sign are Xarel-lo grapes, beyond them are planted chardonnay. The vine close up – impressively old vines at that – are the Xarel-lo, even at this early stage of their yearly growth cycle they are showing some significant shoots. The Chardonnay vines are even more advanced.
The other vine pictures (the open sky and next to the tractor, doing tractor-stuff between the rows) are Maccabeo, and are significantly further behind in development. What is interesting, fascinating if you are of a geeky nature, is that the Maccabeo will be harvested first…

In the UK the wines of René Barbier [Adegga / Snooth] are available for the on-trade only.

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