Cellers d’en Guilla: Stunning views and a tale of grey grenache

To say that Cellers d’en Guilla is a winery typical of Emporda doesn’t do it justice. I believe the word “expressive” is a better fit. For Emporda is a DO with twists and turns around every corner and d’en Guilla is no exception, and perhaps in that way “typical.” Located in Delfia, just outside of Rabos, it was started by wine maker Martin Valles and his wife Assumpta Bohigas. Martin left Penedes after 20 years of working for a large winery operation and decided he needed a change. Attracted to the more hands-on style of Emporda, he started Cellers d’en Guilla in 2010. However, this is not the story.

Highlighted by old vines across vineyards in the flatlands of Gariguella and Mollet de Peralada, Cellers d’en Guilla predominantly grows white, red and grey Grenache, along with Carignan, Macabeo (plus a touch of Muscat). With these varieties, they produce beautiful and balanced white, rose, red and blended wines that honestly represent the region. Most notably, it’s Vinya del Metge was voted best young rosat by Guiana de vins de Catalunya 2014, a wine which Martin took a chance and used grey Grenache in its blend. With its very pale pink color (almost white), it’s one of the most unique and masculine roses I’ve ever had. I’ll not just stand by those words, and I’ll fight by them too, as I’m a newly converted rosat drinker. Yet, this is still not the story.

To me the story is the sweet wines that Celler d’en Guilla makes. Made from the same grey grenache grapes, it’s a story very fitting for an Amy Krouse Rosenthal children’s book. Twin grapes separated shortly after birth turn out different but the same. SOMEBODY GET THE PUBLISHER ON THE PHONE!

This is not your typical nature vs nurture examination. The fruit certainly does not fall far from the vines, pardon the pun. Those same vines who also helped produce before-doted-upon wines. With genes like this, their story could only have a happy ending.

The first one, known as “Granatxa”, is rested with “two year break in the celler.” It is more conventionally aged in oak. The result is a brick red color and trail mix “nose”. While balanced in taste, it has a striking caramel quality not unlike tawny port. Timmer even said he’d give up drinking his after dinner port in favour of this sweet wine. So far, he’s held to his promise.

The other, perhaps the wild child, known as “Sol i Serena” is flash frozen prior to maceration and then sun aged in 60L jugs (damajuanes) for 4-6 months. This dry aging creates and amber yellow color. The flavour? Well let’s just say when I tried it I asked, “Is this brandy?” It just might be the noble savage of dessert wines, and while Timmer favours Granatxa, I’ve definitely adopted Sol i Serena into my apres dinner repertoire.

So there you have it. The same grape with different journeys, both turning out exquisite nectars. Okay, sure, neither one grew up in the ghetto (cue the Elvis) but I think your picking up what I’m laying down.

There are other things to mention about Celler d’en Guilla. For instance, its marvellous modern facility built in and around a near ancient structure with massive layered stone walls, the modern apartment that sleeps 8 and has a private pool, or the rooftop terrace with stunning views of Emporda and the lower Pyrenees just waiting for some young Catalan gastronomic genius to open a cafe with a sunset jazz band. All these are great reasons to visit d’en Guilla and enjoy the wine. But for me they are nice canvas to revisit and marvel in the reunion of the twins.

I’ll see poolside with ying and yang. Now can somebody please play me some Peaches and Herb?