Sicus: part of a new generation of winemakers
Monday, 17 of July: taking advantage of the Vinyas Lliures event, which was held at Partida Creus, we were able to visit Eduard Piè Palomar from Sicus Terrers Mediterranis. He is one of the artisans who has always been present in Vella Terra, representing the new generation of Catalan winemakers. This new generation is beginning to spread worldwide and is known especially for the respect they show towards their land and due to the high quality of their wines.
Eduard was born in 1985 in a family of farmers and winemakers. Later on, he decided to dedicate himself to the world of sommeliers and and at the same time starts his studies in winemaking and viticulture. During the last years of school, he began venturing into his first winemaking experiences, especially due to the grapes that were once destined to be sold to commercial enterprises.
Among love for the vineyards and love for the sea
In 2010, in the city of Bonastre, in the south of Penedes, Eduard motivated by his desire to express his love for the near Mediterranean Sea and for his land, he create his project.
With the given name Sicus Terrers Mediterranis, Eduard intends to produce mono-varietal wines, using native varieties of the area, reflecting completely all the characteristics of his territory. Eduard believes that wine making is the best possible choice in relation to his winemaking philosophy.
In 2011 almost all of his winemaking processes are done in this style: after an initial trial period it became quite clear which road to follow.
Strolling along with him, among his vines in the “Finca La Caseta”, we can observe how everything seems to be in equilibrium between the natural vegetation of his vineyards and the wonderful landscape that surrounds us: only 6 km from the sea and from the Massiccio del Garraf that protects us. Here a great influence from the Mediterranean sea is evident: the composition of the land is for the most part limestone, with little organic matter; everything in this area is cultivated with own fertilizers and working the minimum possible in some vineyards and at specific times of the year.
Eduard shares with us that since the beginning of his journey, he has never used fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides: the goal is to allow the vine to grow strong and healthy in relations to other types of native vegetation in the area, in order to obtain the purest grapes possible.
Early in the morning, everything is harvested manually, and put in small boxes. Due to the high quality and purity of the raw materials artisans and winemakers can intervene as less as possible on their land and on the winemaking process itself. After all, the land with its micro-organisms are still living beings: if you respect them, they will give back anything they can
For a moment, we find ourselves walking by his Malvasia de Stiges: even though, this variety is not particularly productive, we can grasp that Eduard reserves a particular affection towards this variety. As a matter of fact, it is without doubt the protagonist of this specific area of the Mediterranean. Eduard produces less than 2000 bottles of wine with this variety of grapes.
“Sons”: when whine is produced where grapes grow
Finally, we have arrived at the vineyard of the Xarel typology, where we can find 200 litre clay amphorae among the rows: Eduard is a pioneer of this methodology of producing wine in Catalonia. Actually, there are only a few artisans who use this type of winemaking process in the whole peninsula. Nonetheless, we must keep in mind that in the territories of the florid handicraft tradition, such as the Republic of Georgia, this is a widespread practice.
The morning in which the grapes are harvested, they are also handled manually and introduced into the amphorae, allowing the fermentation to start spontaneously with its indigenous yeasts. Allowing them to macerate infusionated with the skins for three or four months.
It is exactly with this methodology that many different varieties of wine are created by Eduard, such as the Monastrel, the Garrut, Cartoixa Vermella, the Malvasia de Stiges and the Summoll. Today, we can count at least 25 amphorae buried among the vines: this is known as the line of “Sons of Sicus”.
With this mechanism, what Eduard with Sicus wants is to make sure that once his grapes have been harvested, that they will not leave their place of origin: he wants to transmit all of the energy, peace and warmth of his land.
In Spain as in Catalonia this is not a common method of winemaking while in other places this is considered a standard procedure; as in Georgia where they have never stopped using this technique.
Let’s continue our journey, even if the time at our disposal is not enough. While we reach the “Caseta” where we will taste the wines, Eduard confesses that his next objective is to bring the canteens closer to his vineyards. Not only to better control the winemaking processes, but also to create and exploit the synergies among the agricultural enterprise, the vineyards and the artisan.
Relaxing wine-tasting in “La Caseta”
Eduard allows us to taste almost all of his wines: it was a great pleasure analysing and distinguishing how the taste of the wines of the same variety changes depending on its production process: whether it is put in a buried amphora or in one of different dimension in a canteen.
The wines are protected by a small dose of SO2: not more than 30 mg / l before bottling. This is what we call “minimal intervention”: if you cannot do without using sulphites, you should use it in minimal doses. However the ideal process is to do so only and after the winemaking process has ended, while “zero sulphites” is advisable when the wine is still in the fermentation process. Unfortunately, not many winemakers follow this procedures.
One of the best features of all of the Sicus wines is their good acidity: they are synonymous of good health and long life. The acidity is also due to the fact that Eduard prefers to pick up grapes even though they have not reached their maximum maturity on the vine.
In order to taste these wines at their best, a period of time to rest in their bottles is needed. However, even by tasting the younger varieties, we can notice that they all express completely their fruit and vegetables characteristics, demonstrating that with a healthy agricultural and a coherent winemaking process, a small dose of SO2 can slightly affects the organoleptic qualities of a wine.
All references of Sicus that we recommend:
Cartoxa Vermella: together with the Malvasia de Sitges , they are the protagonists of the area. One completely different from the other is: Cartoxa recognized for its spicy and deep taste and Malvasia for its vegetable and citric taste, perfectly in balance between them. Eduard is one of the few winegrowers to venture into dry vinification with these difficult and attractive varieties, also vinified in the ” Sons ” line.
Cartoxa Marì, like Eduard calls it, it’s a golden coloured wine with copper shades. It has a citric and spicy aroma: a “rosé” wine with a fresh and persistent back taste.
Sons Cartoxa: an authentic jewel of our winemaker is without any doubt the Cartoxa Brisat. With a production of over 250 bottles, it is a great privilege to share this wine with him: the grape harvested is destalked in the same vineyard and is introduced into the clay amphorae buried in the middle of the rows.
The fermentation starts spontaneously with indigenous yeasts and is allowed to macerate with the skins for 10 days. Subsequently, it is pressed and reintroduced into the anvil until the fermentation reaches its end. During the course of 5 months the wine rests in the vineyard within the same amphora.
During the month of May you can start tasting this wine at its best.
It has a straw yellow color with golden shades. Its taste is fresh and deep with herb and mature white fruit scents. Thanks to the long skin contact during maceration phase we have a sharp tannin, given by the youthfulness of the wine.
Garrut: It’s probably the most precious jewel of Sicus, this wine is the demonstration that even wines with a non-long maceration process can identify and express a territory and thus be considered “watch” wines. The “Sons” line of Garrut offers us a handcrafted wine, which is absolutely the picture of healthy farming enacted by Eduard. This is also due to its domesticated tannins coming directly from the buried amphora which will give Eduard much satisfaction with the passing of time.
This wine as taste offer us a warm Mediterranean feel, with cherries and green pepper aroma that gracefully blend together in a persistent final note.
Eduard and his land
No doubt that it is with Eduard’s contribution that this zone is becoming once again a winemaking land recognized by Catalonia. In this field, particular attention is put especially on the growing number of natural artisans and winemakers. If we take a step forward into the future, after many years of being forgotten, we can definitely say that Eduard and Sicus with his genuine and natural vinification process, inspired by past traditions, has given us hope that things will change, for the best of course.