A Viña Franca selection

La Salada (Toni Carbo)

Toni Carbo

In addition to his work at Mas Candí, Toni Carbo established his own project, La Salada, back in 2012 (the first vintage of his wines). A fourth-generation vigneron, Toni took over his family’s vineyards just over a decade ago and began farming them organically. Around this same time (2009-2012), he also became captivated by natural wines, particularly due to their innate vibrancy and energy.

Toni’s family comes from Parellada village, located about 40 kilometers west of Barcelona. His great-grandfather lived in a farmhouse called La Salada, where he fervently worked the land. Toni’s grandfather, also called Toni Carbo, grew up in this same farmhouse, where he worked hard, saved money, and was finally able to purchase land of his own. However, when it came to purchasing land, his grandfather sought out areas that no one particularly wanted – those tucked away in the shade, near the river, and dominated by pure limestone slopes. Today, aspiring growers flock to these ideal conditions to buy land for grape cultivation, though such was not the case during the 20th century.

Toni named his project La Salada in honor of his grandfather and great-grandfather. He cares for the property’s 28 hectares of vineyards without the use of chemicals, and many of the vines are over 80 years old (in which 22ha of vineyards belong to him and 8ha is owned by family and friends, and they all work together). His partner Anna joined him in the venture, and today, the couple is raising the fifth generation of Carbos to follow in the family path.

In addition to farming organically, Toni plants grains between rows to balance nitrogen levels in the soils. His vineyards are dedicated to native Penedès varieties, including Macabeu, Xarel-lo, Sumoll, Malvasia de Sitges, and more. Many natural (radical) winemakers from France have been known to come to his vineyards to buy grapes from him, as they’ve come to trust Toni’s work in the vineyards, as well as share a similar philosophy towards responsible farming.

In the cellar, Toni upholds his family’s traditions, too. He restored his grandfather’s cellar, which is where all fruit is pressed, vinified, and aged. No chemical additions are made in the cellar, and any of the wines see long periods of skin contact, just as the old Pagès used to do.

During his time at school in Tarragona, Joan struck up a friendship with Ton Mata, whose family owned Celler Recaredo. The family offered Joan a job and he immediately jumped; two short years later, he was made the technical director of the estate – no small feat for such a renowned Cava estate! Joan remained with the family for over 13 years. During this time, he discovered a love for biodynamics. Perhaps his biggest achievement at the estate was converting all 50 hectares to biodynamic farming, which is still upkept by the team today!

Today, Joan and Àngels’ farm spans three municipalities: Santa Margarida i els Monjos, Vilafranca del Penedès, and Castellví de la Marca, located just 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) from the Mediterranean Sea. Here, soils are dominated by limestone and clay, which are optimal foundations for the farm’s Xarel-lo, Macabeo, Malvasia de Sitges, and Sumoll Blanc. Joan also farms a handful of reds: Monastrell, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), and Sumoll Negre. All fruit is handpicked and transported to the cellar in 20kg cases. Grapes are picked according to taste. During harvest time, Joan can frequently be found sampling fruit from his vines, only deeming them ready for harvest when phenolic ripeness, acidity, and overall balance are all in check.

After meticulous sorting, grapes are put into stainless steel tanks and see a bit of skin contact. The free run juice is then collected by gravity and without the use of pressing. Only gravity is used in the cellar (no pumps). Post-fermentation, wines are aged in used barrels, stainless steel tanks, or an assortment of large ceramic jars made from different soil types, which are selected depending on the unique personality of each wine. All of these jars are made by Carles Llarch, a local potter residing in the nearby Foix mountains.

Joan’s winemaking is as hands off as it gets: fermentations are done with natural yeasts, wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered, and no SO2 is added. However, it’s his scrupulous farming methods that really bring his wines to the next level. It’s no surprise that Joan’s colleagues frequently ask him for viticultural advice, which he gives freely and generously to spread the good word of organic and biodynamic farming. The resulting wines are vibrant, energetic, and undeniably alived, marked by a distinct character that transports us to coastal Spain with every sip.

Key information

Catalonia

Catalonia

28 hectares

Founded in 2012

Organic
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