15-03-2012

Climbing the terraces of Hugas de Batlle

Without a doubt, it had to be the dumbest time in recent history to be traipsing about the mountains of upper Empordà. While the Tramuntana is a wind that blows all year long, it was blowing incredibly fiercely when we were visiting Hugas de Batlle in February. How fierce? Try 175kph. It was ripping ancient olive trees out of the ground that had been standing for centuries and causing havoc all around the region.

And there I was, trying to take photos of these ancient vineyard terraces while trying not to get tossed down the mountain, landing as a macerated heap in the town Colera below. So, who in their right might would be up on these terraces for the last 12 years working to not only restore them, but make wine from them? Eduard (Edu) Hugas de Batlle.

Edu is great guy and insanely dedicated to 16 hectares of vineyards which all seem to be diagonal hectares. He claims that he sees more of his tractor than his wife and I’d believe it. This is hard work up on those terraces and a good deal of the reason that they were deserted a few decades ago as tourism was a much easier way to make a living.

Prior to 2005, he was just selling the grapes to a large winery in the area, but at that point, he started making his own wine from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnache, Merlot, Carignan, Syrah, White Grenache, and Moscat that he’s growing.

We reviewed his 2008 Coma Fredosa (the name of the mountain where the grapes grow) but we were also offered the chance to tastes his new 2009 vintage as well as a new wine they’re making called Falguera. Overall, the wines are quite excellent. While the oak from the aging is prevalent, the wines themselves have depth and you can really taste these very unique grapes that barely scratch out their existence on the sides of the mountains. Definitely worth trying if you’re in the area or on the off chance you encounter them imported to the United States.

Learn more about the wines, wineries, and history of Empordà in our Empordà, Catalonia enotourism guide