Joan Asens: An Emblem of the DOQ Priorat

Joan Asens: An Emblem of the DOQ Priorat

Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Joan Asens, the Masroja oenologist who began his career in Priorat with Álvaro Palacios, and who shortly after decided to start a project in his hometown, El Masroig, in the heart of the DO Montsant, considered one of the most recognized and respected oenologists for their great career, passion and respect for the vineyard

  Joan, thank you very much for attending us today, we would like to know how your beginnings in wine were and what it was like to work with Álvaro Palacios.


I was born in a family of farmers, where the vineyard, the olive trees, the almond trees were cultivated mainly. When I was little my father made me and my brother make a small amount of wine each harvest, it was like a game and each year he dedicated himself to a different type of wine, young whites, "brisats", rosés, reds... Surely these games with wines attracted me and I decided to study oenology at the Falset School and then continue my training at the University as an Agricultural Technical Engineer in Agrifood Industries. When I finished I started working as a professor of Oenology at the School of Falset and this coincided with the appearance of the "Clos" of Priorat. Those years (from 1987 to 1992) were very exciting, it was the arrival on the market of the new Priorats and in the region it caused a lot of commotion. I met Álvaro Palacios in Falset and there were many and good chemistry and he asked me to help him in the preparation of the 1990 vintage and I carried out this work until 2008, a total of 18 vinifications where I learned a lot about Priorat, its vineyards and its wines.


In your years of experience, you have experienced the evolution of Priorat and the creation of the D.O. Montsant, how do you think this change has been?


More than a change, it has been the logical path towards the elaboration of wine as a quality product. In my childhood, I was born in 1965, wine was considered a basic food, farmers drank a lot of wine, since it provided part of the calories necessary for the hard work in the fields that was still very manual. With the advent of tractors and mechanization, wine is no longer vital, fewer calories need to be ingested, more food at reasonable prices also reaches the market and there is a change, wine is consumed less. At the same time, the country's economic level also rises, and with this comes a public that appreciates the differences between wines, that cares about discovering their peculiarities and that pays for it. This path towards the quality of the wines of our region still has parts to improve, perhaps the DOQ Priorat is a step forward since it has agreed on the names of the towns and places and has marked special estates as the maximum level of its vineyards.


What led you to create your own winery, Orto Vins, and how did you experience it?

Orto Vins is a winery made up of 4 Masroig winegrowers who, when the time came to continue the work of our family farms, decided to unite and each contribute the best they knew. In my case it was the elaboration of the wines. Josep Maria Beltran is in charge of biodynamic agriculture, Jordi Beltran runs the office and warehouse, and Josep Maria Jové is looking for new clients. We all make a good team.

What is special about Masroig and its terroir if we compare it with other areas or other towns in Montsant?

The DO Montsant has a climatological study of its entire territory and we could say that we found 4 different areas. El Masroig is located in an area where the average temperature is 15.55ºC and 440 m of annual rainfall, with a predominance of calcareous and clayey clay soils that provide us with good maturation, especially Carinyena with alcoholic degrees that easily exceed 13 % and good concentration of tannin. Our zone would be an intermediate zone, neither very dry nor very humid, neither very hot nor very cold.


How do you think the DO Montsant and its future will evolve compared to its DOQ Priorat counterpart?

Well, my vision of the world of wine is to be able to capture the name of the most special towns and places on the label. This entails a job for all winegrowers to decide where the limits of each municipality are placed, since the limits do not always follow climatic parameters, but rather political ones. Side. Montsant has been working since 2022 and we hope that in 3 or 4 years the results will be seen. Interesting, and to finish, please tell us what your favorite Orto Vins wine is and how you would drink it. Well without a doubt "Les Tallades de Cal Nicolau", wine made from a single plot, the oldest in the entire D.O, planted in 1870 before the Phylloxera, of the Picapoll Tinto variety and that my family has cared for with great affection, replanting the vines that died with layering and above all preventing the variety from being lost forever. In addition, the wine that comes from these wonderful vines gives a wine with a range of aromas reminiscent of pomegranate, strawberries, petals

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