A Spanish Love Letter to Chateau Rayas

Posted on: 09/13/22 4:30 PM


Here’s the note on Joan d’Anguerra’s Finca l’Argata from Eirc Solomon’s site:

““If you haven’t tasted Finca l’Argata for a few years you might find yourself surprised how this cuvée has evolved to reflect the new minimalist style at Joan d’Anguera. Once a blend of Garnatxa, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon and aged in new wood, Finca l’Argata is now pure Garnatxa sourced from sandy clay and limestone soils from head-pruned vines ranging in age from 40-60 years old. It is fermented whole cluster in concrete and aged well-seasoned French oak barrels.”

This phenomenon is not uncommon in emerging fine wine regions. Of course, Spain has been making wine for centuries, millennia even, but the emergence of high quality distinct regions with global distribution is a more recent development. Outside of Rioja, Jerez and one or two major players elsewhere like Vega Sicilia, Spanish wine was primarily enjoyed locally. All that began to change in the mid-80s, leading to a quality boom in the 90s and beyond. Of course, if you’re an up-and-coming winemaker and you’re desperate to improve the quality of your production, where do you look? France, of course. Soon this new quality-minded producer is emulating the first growths, and the cellar is full of toasty new oak barrels …

This was the path of Joan d’Anguerra in the Monstant, a high-quality satellite region outside Priorat. The wines were similar to most “international” Spanish wines: oaky, sweet, overripe, and uninteresting.

He began comparing his wines to the wines he drank and loved himself – Rayas, Roagna, Gramenon – and finding that he did not love the wines he was making. Then Joan visited Chateau Rayas and asked himself: “Why am I making wine this way?”

Inspired and encouraged by M. Reynaud himself, he focused on the exceptional high quality Grantxa he had under vine in similarly sandy soils and jettisoned the international Syrah and Cabernet. He began fermenting whole cluster and aging in neutral oak.

The results? Floral, fragrant, peppery, delicately sweet and impeccably balanced Garnacha.

Few of us can find, let alone afford Rayas. For $39.99, you can enjoy a wine that has some kinship with Rayas, and is a damned fine drink on its own.

Don’t miss it.

2018 Joan d’Anguerra Finca l’Argata

Wine Advocate: Brothers Joan and Josep Anguera have gone through a transformation of their wines in the last few years, from ripe, extracted and oaky wines to a more relaxed style they now feel comfortable with. They started with biodynamics some ten years ago and have been implementing changes in the vineyards ever since, even transforming trellised vineyards to gobelet. Since 2012 they have changed the style of their wines, and they are finally comfortable with the 2016 and 2017 vintages that I could preview. … As I hadn’t tasted their wines for a while and what I saw was truly outstanding, I decided to report on all the unbottled wines I tasted, even if some are going to take some years to review. But the new direction of the winery is so impressive and exciting that I wanted to let you know about them.


Posted in Reserve List By Tim Sellon