What we know today as Mas de Sella, its vineyards and its wines, is the result of the interaction between a family -our family- and a land, our land.
Around 1945, our grandfather Jacinto Llinares purchased a state on the southern slope of the Aitana mountain range, in the province of Alicante, 900 metres above sea level but only 10 km away from the Mediterranean Sea. At that time, in every state there was a farm, a masía, and the masias were run by farmers that cultivated the land.
With the produce they obtained from their farming, these families created a perfect self-sustained system as each masia grew their own olive trees, fruit trees, vineyards, wheat and owned livestock. Thus they were able to make their own oil, wine, bread, milk and so on.
The diversity of this system was highly accountable for the biological richness of the state.
One of our most cherished memories from childhood was our visits to the state. Throughout the decades of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, our grandfather used to take us to Mas de la Real de Sella and thanks to these visits we learned how the farmers laboured, and generally speaking, experienced life from another time, and older time: we watched how they plowed the land with their mules, how they transported fruit in bullock carts, cooked over open fires, used candles for lighting as there was no power supply…
These mind-blowing experiences touched us deeply and unknowingly then, they became the seed that would eventually become our current folly.
And two key elements were essential in the day-to-day farm life: the vineyard and the celler. The farmers or maseros harvested in early September and made a wine that necessarily had to last in reasonable good shape until the new harvest the following year. In this pursuit they harvested over-ripe grapes in order to obtain a higher alcoholic degree and residual sugar. Once alcoholic fermentation was over, the wine was pressed and transferred to large wooden casks, from which they took out what they need for their own consumption.
As a result, these powerful wines would now be considered too strong for today’s palate (high level of alcohol, containing residual sugar and very marked tannins) but these defects were in fact their preserving agents so the wine wouldn’t go bad before the new one was made.
These wines that could be considered brutally handcrafted, extended the legend that it was impossible to make good wine in the mountains. Proving it wrong was one of the challenges we were prepared to face when starting our project in 2003.
A few family members were already curious about winemaking and had made contacts in the high quality-wine segment. These contacts showed us that there were marked similarities between the landscape, orography and climate of the state with those of the Priorat: Mediterranean climate, endless solar exposure, dryness compensated with the breeze from the nearby sea and the extreme day-night temperature contrast given by its altitude.
Bearing all the above in mind, we set out to explore our options to recover the wine-growing tradition in our state.
Will be keeping you posted…