There are laws in nature that are undeniable. For example, what goes up must come down, an object in motion will continue in motion at the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force, and brothers fight. Growing up with a brother the latter principle was literally beat into my head.
When we weren’t fighting there was an element of magic in those moments when all seemed right in the world. This was when the camera came out and our tireless mother often caught her breath. But these Kodak moments are fleeting and few and far between at best with most brothers. It’s usually only a matter of time before all hell breaks lose again.
There are brothers however, who manage to find a way to stretch or maximise their windows of peace on earth and in doing so, often work together to produce something brilliant to share with the world. At Coca i Fito in DO Montsant, there is one such pair of brothers.
Toni and Miquel Coca have been maximizing their magic moments since 2006 when they opened the celler with a focus on organic singular wines which allow an expression of their terroir. Born and raised in Alt Penedes, the two spent much of their time playing and growing in the family’s vineyard. As they got older, Toni in many ways chose to stay and play in the vineyard and by 2006 had gathered a wealth of knowledge and experience making wines for other family-run vineyards in Catalunya from Terra Alta to Alt Emporda.
Meanwhile, brother Miquel opted to explore the culinary arts and develop his interests in international trade and design. With one brother a blossoming winemaker and the other specializing in cuisine and commercial talents the eventual repairing of the two seems almost clandestine.
Upon initial inspection, the concept of producing minimal intervention singular wines with the dynamic of one brother making them while the other one sells them sounds simple enough. However, what the brothers Coca do is much more complex because they own more than one vineyard, plus vineyards in several DOs in Catalunya and outside the region also.
What’s more, is within the vineyards they own there are no less than six different soil types across the different DOs and more than one variation of the seven-plus grape varieties with which they work.
While this gives you a better taste of what Coca i Fito does, they don’t stop there and this is where to plot thickens. They also experiment with the barrel ageing, experimenting with both French and American oak. Sometimes they take the wine of a single vineyard post-blend and split it between the oaks, as with their Coca i Fito “Negre.” Other times, pre-blend, they might age the different varieties in different oaks for different durations. Their idea of keeping it simple is their Coca i Fita “Rosa”. Here single vineyard Syrah is 20% aged in French oak for 4 months, with the remainder in stainless steel.
With all these combinations of soils, varietals and barrels at his disposal, things could seemingly get confusing. Yet Toni seems to make making the celler’s ten different (for now with more coming) wines look simple. To top it off in doing so, he makes simply amazing wines that are honest expressions of the terrain from which they come.
If you can break down the relationship between these brothers of vine to “you make it and I’ll sell it” then Toni has made Miquel’s job somewhat simple. However, if you ask any cellar they’ll say selling is the tough part, but Miquel has done a pretty amazing job with this part of the business. How much so? Let’s just say that Coca i Fito has expansion in the works with recent purchase of another 20 hectares of prime Monsant goodness that will include a new facility and perhaps another grape variety or two. There is also whisperings of possibly more single vineyard, single variety microvins, like their current Coca i Fito Rosa and “Tolo Do Xisto” (100% Mencia) but even smaller productions.
Now 9 years on from their humble start with a production of 5,000 bottles Toni and Miquel now produce well over 100,000 bottles (which will soon nearly triple), evidence of what brothers can do when they get along. Would things be different if they were both winemakers with different ideas? After tasting almost all their varieties, including the mind-blowingly spectacular Dolç sweet wine, and also sampling from several of the barrels of Carignan and Garnatxa, I would say it’s not worth the worry.
It took the sharp cold of the Montsant night, after several hours cocooned in the warmth of their barrel room, to wake me up to just how special this brother’s pairing truly is, and how their work together as overcome that brotherly itch to fight. The only hell breaking loose at Coca i Fito is hellaciously brilliant winemaking.