Antoni Roig at Mas Llunes is a winemaker other winemakers envy.
Well, not really, but allow me to explain. While winemaking has been a family tradition for roughly 700 years, Antoni wandered off to prove he could do other things. After several years and much success in the business world away from wine he then decided, “been there done that, so now what”?
The “now what” was to come home to the vines, not to necessarily prove anything, but perhaps answer a calling that had always been there. After 700 years of family winemaking history, it’s easy to believe wine is in the blood. So for his his next adventure, Antoni came home and proved in spite of it all, he’s a natural and has made winemaking look easy.
He began Mas Llunes formally in 2000 by building its modern cellar in Gariguella, Emporda, located across the street from Cooperativa Garriguella. Starting with 24 hectares, including 9 of the family’s old vines, he then purchased 24 more. Alongside 90 year old Granatxa Negre clusters or “goblet” vines, he planted additional new Granatxa negre, Carignan, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, as well as the white varieties of Granatxa Blanc, Carinyena and Macabeo. He then went to work.
Antoni’s results have been less magic and more just let it happen. As his lovely and gracious daughter, Gemma, who handles marketing, social media, and export, says “minimum intervention” is the trick. Antoni and Mas Llunes use what nature gives them, like the great slate soil which lends minerality and complexity to their wines, plus the Tramantana winds which regulate moisture, helping to prevent the formation of harmful microorganisms. In the world of sports they refer to this as letting the game come to you. After all it’s what a natural does, and he doesn’t have to force it.
Now, 15 years on (a short period in wine years), how good a winemaker Antoni is being validated with awards. What kind of awards? During our visit to Mas Llunes, we had they distinct pleasure of Antoni and Gemma sharing with us their 2002 Granatxa Solera was judged the Best Wine in Catalunya by VINAR 2013, while standing amongst the old vines who produce it.
With this significant information we learned something else about our host. He possesses patience. The Granatxa Solera isn’t a well kept secret since 2002, it’s barrel aged for 10 years. With an annual production limited to 2000 bottles this sweet wine is a rare gem and continues to win awards (First Prize in the category of sweet wines by La Guia de vins de Catalunya 2014).
Patience pays off and the awards are not limited to just Mas Llunes’ limited production wines. Antoni’s higher production wines, Maragda Negre and Blanc, are also garnering praise. Incidentally, his highest volume Cercium (20,000 bottles) has also very recently been decorated. Cercium, the old Roman name for the Tramantana wind, is indicative of more production not meaning less care or quality. It also shows, while very successful, Antoni remains humble by paying tribute to the history of Emporda and the gift from nature which has helped his success.
So what’s next for Antoni? By having Gemma join the team, he is committed to making Mas Lunes a family act for future generations. His confidence in her, as we witnessed during our time there, is high and together they plan to take the show to wider audience on bigger stage. Gemma is continuing her wine education to complement her current job duties at the vineyard.
With an aggressive social media presence and marketing strategy father and daughter hope to bring Mas Lunes into new markets while increasing their reach at home. When you have a team this close, and on the same page going in the same direction producing beautiful wines as they do, I have a hunch they will achieve this.
One of the ways they plan to continue and build upon Antoni’s success and make it theirs together is to increase enotourism to the vineyard. We truly enjoyed our first visit at Mas Llunes and invite you to experience it too. Come to Emporda and enjoy Mas Llunes. It’s the natural thing to do. Will we be back? Well, much like sitting with our warm hosts and being offered a glass of the delicious Cercium by the very charming Gemma, how can I possibly say no?
Now that would just be unnatural.