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Catalan vineyard first in Europe to produce wine in a dry stone vat reviving an old method

Abadal wine cellar, in Pla de Bages appelation in central Catalonia, is the first in Europe to begin fermenting their grapes in big vats of dry Stone located outdoors, in the midst of the vineyards. The method is at once innovative and traditional, as it is the revival of an old tradition common in Europe during the 19th century. This Monday, experts in the making of wine tasted the results of the first vintage, of which there are 600 bottles that will not be sold. Many described the wine as "exceptional". According to Abadal winemaker Miguel Palau, the method is highly unconventionalbecause it allows the uncommon option of blending grapes, here all 10 varieties, together and fermenting them outdoors. The result is apparently sharp and fresh, with balsamic notes due to its unusual fermentation.


21 October 2014 05:25 PM



Barcelona (ACN).- Experimental wine making in Europe goes one step further, as Abadal wine cella is the first to revert to a 19th century method of fermenting grapes in dry stone vat located in outdoor huts. Dry stone constructions have long been a landmark across European vineyards, and the Catalan winemakers explain the history and method behind them. This Monday, experts and winemakers alike tasted the results of the first vintage, a batch of 600 bottles, which will not be put on the market. Many agreed the wine is "exceptional", and Abadal winemaker Miguel Palau explained this to be a project "that breaks all myths of modern oenology", because it allows the unusual blending of grapes, in this case 10 different varieties, in an outdoor environment. The result is a sharp and fruity taste, with balsamic notes resulting from its unusual forest fermentation. The stone buildings, a common landmark to the area, enabled winemakers of the past to make wine closer to the vineyards, and avoid the difficult transportation across rough terrain. Abadal, a well known vineyard in Catalonia, and one that has earned the respect of wine connoisseurs through years of international award winning and fine wines, with some 900 vines in the area known as Arboset, in Tarragona, southern Catalonia. This ‘new’ method is enlightening both in its illumination on the traditions and architecture of the past, and in allowing new flavours of wine to emerge..

Catalan winery first in Europe to try ‘innovative’ method

While the dry stone huts are a common landmark in parts of wine-producing Europe, Catalan winery Abadal is the first in Europe to put them to their original function: fermenting grapes. Abadal is a well-known name, and many wine experts gathered on Monday to try the first results of the once traditional method. It is a unique method that beyond its romantic tribute to the past generations, is attempting to create a new fusion of learning from the past with what we know today. According to many, the wine was "exceptional". Abadal winemaker Miguel Palau explained that it is a young, sweet wine, with a strong balsamic note due to its unusual fermentation in the vats outside in the forest.

A project that "breaks all myths of modern oenology"

This method is highly innovative in modern wine-making, as it allows a blend of grapes, in the case of this Abadal wine: 10 different varieties. All the grapes are picked the same day, 70% of them have their stems and stalks removed, then they are left to ferment in the big dry stone vats. In the case of the first vintage, it will be a young wine which has touched no material other than the tiled interior of the dry stone vats.

"Regain the feelings of our grandparents"

Returning to this old method of wine-making is a unique oenological project, one that is both a tribute to the past and an exploration into potential future techniques. The proliferation of stone vats in the area would originally have been to enable wine-makers to avoid the difficulties of transporting the grapes to the farms across rough terrain, by efficiently fermenting, then directly selling it. This is a "preserved heritage here that is unique and wonderful". Reverting to this once traditional method is both to "regain the feelings of our grandfathers"; recovering sensations from a lost era, while experimenting with the new flavours from the stone vat fermentation.

As noted by Palau, while innovative, it is seems strange to speak of "’pioneering’ our grandparents", to describe something that was their way of life and common to such an area.

More acres of vineyards, for 10 local varieties

Abadal is a recognizable name in Catalonia, with a long tradition of quality winemaking and winner of several international competitions. It produces 10 wines under the name Abadal, and this year planted 900 vines in Arboset, with over 10 local varieties.


  • The dry stone vat is located in the vineyard itself (by E. Escolà)

  • Abadal's dry stone hut in which the grapes are fermented (by E. Escolà)

  • The dry stone vat is located in the vineyard itself (by E. Escolà)
  • Abadal's dry stone hut in which the grapes are fermented (by E. Escolà)