The birth of 'Tot Controlat'
Tot Controlat 2016
Grapes Chenin Blanc
Location Conca de Barberà
Fermentation ferment with native yeast, 12 days skin contact, destemmed by hand
Raised 8 months in amphora of 375 liters.
Alcohol approximately 12%
When to drink from 2018 until 2022
Total approximately 500 bottles.
Status bottled in june 2017, served as our house wine in Spain.
Unfiltered and not clarified. No pomps used to move the wine, only gravity. Nothing added.
We wouldn't be the Grape Hunters, if we didn't feel like making our own wine this internship as well. Owner and winemaker Joan Ramon agreed with this, but he didn't have space in his cellar to house our newly bought amphora. We found it a garden shop just outside the Conca, and when we tested it for leaks, we found not one, but three holes. We fixed it by filling the holes with special (swimming pool) cement.
The following step we had to take was to find grapes. We talked to Joan Ramon and he maybe knew a guy who owned some decent quality Macabeo. Then, at one point, while harvesting JR's Chenin Blanc, he had some much yield he asked us if we wanted a bit of his Chenin. We couldn't really believe it, but he gave us almost a ton of his biodynamic top quality grapes. After harvest he helped us by explaining a new method of destemming by hand. He learned this from Pierre Overnoy, a great frontrunner of natural wine from the Jura. He already made special wooden boards, and we just had to drill holes in it. When you rub the bunches down through the holes, the grapes fall in the bucket underneath, destemmed. It took us 1,5 hour to destem one ton of his Chenin Blanc (in Chile it took us 8 hours to destem 500 kilo: efficiency is key). After destemming we filled the amphora with grapes for maceration. We had some grapes left, so we also filled up a plastic tank. We kept the amphora and the tank outside, just in front of the old bodega that we called home for these six weeks.
That's where the names derives from: Tot Controlat is Catalan for 'everything under control'. But the truth is we didn't had anything under control. By letting the grapes ferment outside, they are subject to weather conditions: too many temperature fluctuations could result in a stuck ferment. But we liked it this way: let the wine go as natural as possible: no temperature control and no added yeasts. Also, we didn't use any protection against oxidation or did we use sulphites. Again; we released the reins and made a wine that is alive, and anything other than 'under control'. During rainstorms we closed the lids with film, but all and all it remained quite a risky business.
But, the wine responded well. After 12 days of skin contact (with every day a gentle push down) we decided to press while the wine was still fermenting, to keep it protected from oxygen.* By first stepping on the grapes which were mostly still intact, before putting them in the press, we hoped the release as much juice as possible. We filled up our amphora that we closed with our special made lid.
Tot Controlat is now bottled and up for taste for anyone who comes and visit us!
*While fermenting the wine releases CO2, and this forms a natural protection against oxidation.