DO Pla de Bages gets another bump

DO Pla de Bages in Central Catalunya has just announced the official addition of Celler Sant Miquel d’Oló. Normally, a new cellar added to a DO wouldn’t merit note but given that it takes the DO’s cellar count from 14 to 15, I find it quite significant as it suddenly makes for a more substantive and comprehensible base of cellars.

Going it alone in the wine world rarely works and in the cases where it does, it’s often due to a cellar already being part of a well-known region before they forge their own path such as Artadi with DOC Rioja or Raventós i Blanc with DO Cava. But there is truth to the old statement of there always being safety in numbers as it gives any DO a unified front to present to potential importers as well as offering an important facet to any growing region these days: being an enotourism destination. Could you imagine Napa Valley with only five wineries instead of the roughly 500 that exist now? Less traffic for sure but a whole lot less interesting when you can visit everything in one boozy day.

By Sant Miquel d’Oló raising DO Pla de Bages number of cellars by 7%, will that be the magic number to reach critical mass? That’s an impossible question to answer until success and recognition finds them and one can look back and say, yes that might just have been the point. This was in the case in DOQ Priorat circa 1989 when they reached roughly the same number of cellars, at least in name, and were suddenly taken note of. For DO Pla de Bages, it’s important to remember that there’s been a steady climb in terms of cellars as there were just eight in the DO in 2010. So in less than nine years, they’ve nearly doubled and this with their having only been a DO since 1995. Who knows if the rate will continue but there are some solid cellars working with tried and true Catalunya grapes as well as the more unknown, Mandó and Picapoll with much being spearheaded by Abadal.

In talking with Sant Miquel d’Oló’s founder, Oriol Garriga, he told me that while he’s originally from the Vallés region near Barcelona, he was looking at several areas and vineyards to start this new project including further north in Empordà. Oriol and his father eventually settled on this location at higher elevation which also surrounds an old hermitage to Saint Michael, thus the name, Sant Miquel.

They’ve Planted their initial vines in 2013 and 2017 was their first full harvest. At the moment, they’ve 3ha of vineyards with an even 0.5ha each of: Grenache, White Grenache, Chardonnay, Picapoll, Trepat, and Carignan. What’s interesting in this selection of very Catalan grapes (minus the Chardonnay) is that White Grenache, Trepat, and Carignan aren’t permitted grapes for DO Pla de Bages so they’re producing those wines under the more permissive DO Catalunya.

Oriol has plans to grow but it remains to be seen which direction he’ll head with the grapes which is why he’s experimenting with an array of varieties as well as more to come. While their website isn’t up and running at the moment, you can follow their adventures on Instagram.