Castell d’Encus “Taïka” (Costers del Segre 2013)
Price for The Champagne Society members: $84 (regular price $99)
Castell d’Encus cuvée Taïka is a groundbreaking “Methode Ancestrale” sparkling wine from the cool heights of the Catalonian Pyrenees. A unique sparkling blend of around half Sauvignon Blanc and half Semillon, only around 2,500 bottles of this gorgeous and elegant wine are produced, making this a rare and special treat.
“Methode Ancestrale” is a much more difficult process than modern methods of producing sparkling wines. Fermentation is stopped when the wine has the appropriate residual sugar to generate enough CO2 when it is transferred to the bottle so there is no need to add any additional sugars to achieve bottle fermentation, all the sugar comes from the grapes themselves. Winemaker Raül Bobet believes this method allows him to preserve the nuances of terroir in “Taïka,” which is his sole sparkling wine.
Raül Bobet has a long list of achievements: He has a masters degree in chemical engineering and a doctorate in oenology. He has 18 years of experience at Bodegas Torres, Spain’s largest producer of DO wines under its own label, where he served as chief oenologist. He is currently proprietor and chief oenologist at both Castell d’Encús in Costers del Segre and Ferrer Bobet in Priorat. There is no question that Raül Bobet knows how to make wine.
But he doesn’t merely make wine. With a Zen-like belief in the unity of art and science, he makes world-class, soulful wines with massive aromatics, wines that express a purity of fruit and concentrated intensity balanced by fresh acidity and elegance. He believes that by growing and vinifying international grape varieties he can take the work and the knowledge that has been accumulated through time and build upon them in a way that offers insight into the particulars of his own terroir.
The vineyards of Castell d’Encús lie in the northwest Spanish DO of Costers del Segre, at the high altitude sub-zone of Pallars Jussà around 3,000 feet in the sub-Pyrenees. Raül believes that this corner of Costers del Segre has the ideal climate for producing the type of wines that he wants to make. Wines with “…freshness, wines which can last, wines that aren’t explosive, more reflexive, with a more feminine and sensitive feel and less alcohol.”
Raül discovered the property of overgrown terraces and believed that it provided the ideal conditions to suit his vision. He soon learned that this piece of land had once been cultivated by Hospitalier monks between the 12th and 18th centuries for the purpose of making wine. A further revelation was the existence of many old fermentation pools (lagares) that were carved out of stone centuries ago. He rehabilitated seven of these lagares and uses them today.
Raül likes to say that Castell d’Encús is less a winery and more of an experimental project. However you define it, it’s an estate as dynamic and exciting as you’ll find from any winemaking region in the world.