In our travels around Catalunya, we’ve come across many compelling stories of history, tradition, and generations passing their intimate wine knowledge to the next. At Masetplana in Garriguella, the embodiment of these elements comes to life for Julia Maset, who has taken the reigns from his father to direct the future of Masetplana.

Julia and Michael discuss the future of the winery.
Julia and Michael discuss the future of the winery.

When he was the youthful age of 21, Julia knew immediately his future was in the wine business, and went about putting his stamp on the business which not only includes wine production, but also well known in the region for their olive oils. Julia oversaw the development of their modernised olive oil production, which is housed in their new Moli building, which takes harvested olives to the finished product within a 24 hour period.

Original olive oil production equipment. It was still in use until a short time ago.
Original olive oil production equipment. It was still in use until a short time ago.

Masetplana, under Julia’s, leadership plans to build a modern building next door to their substantial olive oil facility to give visitors an interactive opportunity with their wines as they have done for the olive oil. Visitors are treated to an impressive multi-media journey through Masetplana’s history in the olive oil business, including vintage footage of Julia’s grandfather and his staff from the 80s. I could swear it was in 3D and full Dolby Digital surround sound.

Julia’s vision with Masetplana wines is just as bold, as he has mixed varietals which embrace tradition from its past, along with new varieties and methods for the future. This includes his use of Malbec, which features as an unusual (for Catalunya) 100% Malbec variety called El Nen de Can Maset, whose body and flavour rivals many of the best Malbecs I’ve tasted from Argentina. Julia also has a line of wines, aptly titled “A21” after the pivotal year of his vocational decision, which has a negre, rosat, crianca, and blanc in its lineup.

We tried the negre A21, and Michael was impressed with the long finish, and playful nature of the wine as it danced across his palate. Julia feels this is an elegant yet playful wine, and after my tasting upon completion of our filming, I agreed.

Xavier and Julia have a little fun with Mariona.
Xavier and Julia have a little fun with Mariona.

At Masetplana, visitors are treated to a full experience, as you are not only given the typical tour and taste version of a winery visit, but Julia also takes the time to teach visitors how to tell the difference between varieties based upon leaf texture, shapes and sizes.

You also get a chance to take in the bunkers built for World War II that are on their land. Michael and I were given the chance to walk through two of the bunkers, one of which has the concrete table intact, no doubt used to steady the tripod of a machine gun at advancing enemy troops. Julia’s father, Xavier explained these bunkers were common in the area, and made a line of defence from the coast all the way inland. Xavier also shared with us that they had found bullets and other remnants from the war during planting and some excavations in the past few decades.

Mastplana during the day
Masetplana during the day

We were also treated to visit the original winery facility, located in the heart of Garriguella, were wine has been made since 1826. It was a breathtaking treat as we saw barrels, the large style barrels (being used again across the globe as a new innovation), which had been used by the family since the winery’s inception. Julia also allowed us to take samples and sips from their A21 rosat, which was in the middle of its fermentation process (Michael cheating more is chronicled in the above video).

Julia shared with us many family relics on display, including sweet wine jars, hollowed-out gourds used for wine fermentation, ancient bottles, baskets and many other relics that would make any antique dealer salivated on sight. After seeing what Masetplana has done with their olive oil facility, I can only imagine what a fine museum they will be putting together in their new winery building.

If you plan to visit Masetplana, be sure to keep your eyes on their website for announcement about their olive oil tastings, as they put the original olive oil press, which was used only until recently and now on display in their shop, to use as a fountain of olive oil for tasting.

After we left, we put Julia’s recipe of Masetplana olive oil, freshly made bread, and chocolate shavings to the test. It was just as tasty as Julia told us it would be, and we paired it with their A21 Blanc. It was simply dynamite. I can’t help but think, however, it would have been ten times better sitting out in the middle of their field of Carignan watching the sunset over the Pyrenees.

Tim Brown (aka Timmer on social media) has been involved in marketing for over 20 years and a wine enthusiast since his first exposure to Duck Pond Winery in Newberg, Oregon, back in 1995. After coming to Europe in 2012, he made his home in Catalunya in 2013 and became enchanted with the wines and winemakers of the region. Now he shares his experiences so international visitors can enjoy the region’s wines, while continuing his work in the marketing world. Sommeliering and wine snobbery isn´t his thing, and he continues to learn more about wine from a Catalan perspective on a daily basis.