Mas Doix in Priorat: A Commitment to Quality Wines and Sustainability
With nearly 100 wineries in Priorat, it’s not easy to stand out in a crowd, but Mas Doix is very clear about its unique value proposition. Discover why in this interview.
We often see the biggest wineries and brands in the news, hoarding all of the headlines, but the reality is that there’s no shortage of smaller, unique bodegas in the wine landscape making outstanding wines and doing it in a newsworthy way.
One example: Bodegas Mas Doix.
Who is Mas Doix?
This family-owned winery located in the prestigious Priorat wine region was created in 1998, but the winemakers behind it have a long history in the industry that dates back to 1850.
The wines they made were so outstanding during that period that they received various distinctions, including a silver medal at the Universal Exhibition of Paris in 1878 and a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition of Barcelona in 1888.
Their success was cut short though. Production was paused due to phylloxera, which destroyed much of the grapevines in Priorat, with the area under vines shrinking dramatically from 5,000 to 600 hectares. But after 1902 they got back in the saddle, planting Garnacha and Cariñena grapes and sending them to a local cooperative. Eventually, however, the winery was created and the first bottle was produced in 1999.
Mas Doix today
Since the beginning, the winery has focused exclusively on the aforementioned native varieties, specifically Garnacha and Cariñena. Occasionally they use Syrah, a non-native variety, in very small quantities.
Grenache are red grapes which have relatively high sugar/alcohol levels, medium tannins and acidity, and a distinct berry aroma. Carignan are red grapes with average sugar levels that are high in acidity and tannins. These two varieties complement each other perfectly and together yield wines that are ideal for aging.
Why they aren’t “just another winery’
With nearly 100 wineries in Priorat, it’s not easy to stand out in a crowd, but Mas Doix is very clear about its unique value proposition.
To start, it’s located in the village of Poboleda, in the northeast part of the region, which has a microclimate with above average rainfall and cooler temperatures than the rest of Priorat. The temperature variation during the day is also quite large, which allows for a slow maturation process that preserves grape acidity.
The llicorella soil, which in this case is essentially decomposed slate and schist, is one of the region’s distinguishing features. It’s also ancient—300 to 400 million years old—which indubitably has an explicit impact on the wine’s flavor. Priorat in general is one of the most rugged wine regions anywhere.
The team at Mas Doix has a rigorous grape selection process as well. Once they’ve been collected they are reviewed one by one and only perfect grapes are selected for winemaking.
“The combination of these and other aspects allows Mas Doix to make wines that are recognized for their freshness, elegance and persistence and which reflect the expression of our terroir,” says Valenti Llagostera, one of the winery’s founders.
A staunch commitment
The company’s new winery was built in line with very specific sustainability criteria and the design was based on very important principles that the owners wanted to be reflected in their new space.
The first principle is landscape integration. Says Valenti, “We wanted the majority of the winery to be underground and to have as small a visual impact as possible. That integration is essential for maintaining harmony between the building and Priorat’s landscape.”
The second principle is minimalist architecture. The winery was built using as few materials as possible with a focus on simplicity, abiding by the adage “less is more.” Inside, too, the owners have used sustainable construction materials, for example, reusing the slate extracted to “bury” the winery.
The third principle is energy sustainability and autonomy. “Respect for the environment is one of the main pillars of our philosophy,” says Valenti. With that in mind, Mas Doix uses solar panels as well as tanks to collect rainwater as part of its commitment to reducing its environmental impact.
Mas Doix wines around the world
These unique wines from Priorat are available in 24 countries, including the US, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China and Australia. In total, around 70% of production is exported.
The company’s internationalization strategy revolves around marketing their wines as high-end products and raising awareness about their brand by obtaining top scores in leading sector publications.
Awakening the senses in the Priorat
As a smaller, premium red winemaker, Mas Doix might not be on the cover of every magazine but the team is working tirelessly behind the scenes to produce extraordinary wines. And people are taking notice.
A combination of grape production in unique circumstances, rigorous grape selection, a commitment to sustainability from start to finish, and utmost respect for the vineyards and the environment have proven to be a winning formula.
They describe their winery as “a place to awaken each and every one of our senses.” If you’re lucky enough to visit them and savor one of their wines against the breathtaking backdrop of Priorat, you’d probably agree.
But even for those of us whose only option is to open a bottle of one of their elegant, complex wines at home will surely also feel their senses fully awakened.
Text: Samara Kamenecka / Rodrigo García