Cellers de Can Suriol
Natural Nourishments for Body & Spirit
Location: the village of Grabuac, DO Penedés, Catalonia, Spain
Owner & winemaker: Assís Suriol and his family
Vineyard area: 30 hectares (~74 acres), estate-owned + purchased organic grapes from neighbors for the Azimut line
Vineyard management: certified organic (CCPAE, since 1996), practicing biodynamics
Soils: clay, limestone, loam
Main varieties: traditional regional Parellada, Macabeo, Xarel-lo for whites, Monastrell, Garnacha, Tempranillo for the reds
Winemaking: Spontaneous primary fermentation, stainless steel vats, amphorae from local clay, and concrete tanks. The sparkling wines are secondary-bottle-fermented and aged on lees in accordance with the Cava DO rules. No fining, no filtering, little to no SO2 added.
Annual production (approx.): 90,000 bottles for the Suriol estate wines, 120,000 for the Azimut line
- The estate is based in Castell de Grabuac, a medieval farmhouse built in the 15th century, where the Suriol family has been farming the property since the 1600s
- In 1890, the infamous phylloxera pest killed all their vines, causing the owners to replant all the vineyards with American rootstock some 10 years later
- The winery focuses on sustainability in all aspects. For example, the glass bottles are generally sourced within 100 km from the estate, and the winery has installed solar panels covering a big part of their electric supply
- The Suriol family produces wines under two brands – the bottles sporting their name present a polished, estate-grown fruit, while the Azimut line denotes easy-going fun wines made from Suriol’s and their close neighbors’ organic grapes
- The family also runs a small rustic hotel and a restaurant as part of the property, offering a complete Mediterranean lifestyle experience to thirsty travelers.
Many of the European winemakers we work with have been writing their family chronicles for quite some time – like the Suriols here, working on the same property since the early 1600s (and living in the area some 500 years before that). Originally a traditional mixed farm, the estate gradually became focused on grapes, despite the catastrophic arrival of phylloxera an aphid that nearly devastated vineyards in Europe at the time, including the Can Suriol ones, in 1890. But the family replanted and kept going: the 1940s marked the beginning of their production of bottled wine, first for own their use and to sell to local tavernas, and then in the 1980s, as Francesc Suriol Cantí, a chemistry graduate and oenologist took over and started bottling cavas under the family name that they still bear today.
An even more important step (for both man and nature) came in the 1990s, when the Suriols decided to switch vineyard management completely to organics, rejecting pesticides, synthetic herbicides, and fertilizers. The estate got its official certification in 1996, and some 20 years later, Assís Suriol, its current head, took it even further by introducing biodynamic practices and limiting the use of sulfur. “The decisions we make are unique for each vine. We never apply general recipes to our vineyards, only Mediterranean viticulture based on ecology and the wisdom of our farming ancestors,” he says. “For us, the most important thing is not the certification, but a clean conscience and staying true to the local philosophy. The complicity of the moon cycles and the astral influences, although not as decisive as our daily work, are always helpful too.”
Following a truly holistic biodynamic approach, the sustainability effort extends to all areas of production – the farm’s “waste”, like compost and cow manure, is returned to the soil for its nourishment, a big part of their energy supply is covered by their own solar panels, the glass bottles are always sourced from the Iberian Peninsula and generally less than 100 km from Grabuac… Working with locally typical grapes such as Parellada, Macabeo, Xarel-lo, or Mataró and Garnacha rather than the globally present varieties is another part of the picture.
Residing in Penedés, an area renowned for its fine sparkling wines, the Suriols focus on secondary-bottle-fermented cavas, which are very elegant and delicately creamy thanks to their long aging on lees. Both the cavas and still wines are primary-fermented using only indigenous yeast: “We let nature choose the best yeast strains that will remain on the grape skins at the time of harvest. This way, each vineyard, variety, and vintage brings in a different type of yeast that then gives rise to a naturally vast array of flavor nuances in our wines.” The malolactic fermentation happens naturally as well, in concrete tanks rather than stainless steel; a choice that Assis explains as bringing more stability to the wine: “Concrete is without electrical charge, and the tanks offer good temperature stability especially when buried underground, as ours, are. Hence, they are perfect for slow aging with a naturally cleared and stable wine as the end result.”
A super important part of Suriol’s natural approach is their Azimut project, named after the Arabic word for direction. And the direction here is clear: promoting organic agriculture! Using their export network as well as connections to local farmers, Assis & co. have created a brand of fun, easy-drinking wines made from their own and certified organic grapes that they purchase from their neighbors, thus encouraging them to pursue respectful viticulture. Based on typical local grapes and the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, these wines are the perfect everyday dash of joy and color that can be enjoyed, as Assis would say, with a clear conscience.
Can Suriol Cava Castel de Grabuac Brut Nature — Back to the top
Grapes: Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada
Vineyard: Clay-limestone with deep limestone subsoil. Certified organic, vines planted between 1984 and 2009.
Making of: The grapes are harvested by varieties, pressed, and naturally sedimented in underground concrete vats. The alcoholic and malolactic fermentation occurs with indigenous yeasts during the winter after the harvest. The wine is then racked and put in bottles, where the secondary fermentation takes place on lees for a minimum of 15 months until disgorgement. Zero dosage. Total SO2 23ppm only (2019 vintage)
Personality: Fresh and creamy, this Cava is a perfect combination of a young-like vivacity and fruitiness with more serious chalky terroir hints, and toasted notes and fine bubbles brought by long aging.
Can Suriol Cava Brut Nature Rosat— Back to the top
Grapes: Monastrell and Garnacha
Vineyard: silt, shallow and well-drained. Certified organic, vines planted in 2008.
Making of: The grapes are harvested by varieties. After 6 hours of skin contact, the wine is then spontaneously fermented in concrete underground vats for 4 months. The wine is then racked and bottled. The wine is then racked and put in bottles, where the secondary fermentation takes place on lees, for a minimum of 15 months until disgorgement. Total SO2 29ppm only.
Personality: utterly enjoyable! This rosé cava is fruity and mineral, a combo of flavors that makes it perfect both on its own as well as with a vast array of food, from aperitivo snacking to light fish and poultry dishes…
Can Suriol Bancals White — Back to the top
Bancals means “terraces”, referring to the small plots of old vines separated by steep walls. These vineyards are difficult to cultivate and give low yields (only 3,000 kg/hectare), but give wines of unique character, balance, and aging potential. It’s “strength and freshness, power and tradition, the classic wine of our grandparents perfectly updated,” Assís says. Only about 2000 bottles made.
Vineyards: terraced plots of clay & limestone, poor and well-drained. Certified organic, vines planted in 1973.
Making of: the grapes are immediately pressed and decanted into underground vats where the spontaneous alcoholic and malolactic fermentations happen over the winter. Then the wine is then aged for about 8 months in 500-L chestnut barrels before bottling.
Personality: long-lasting and intense – this is the estate’s top white wine, and it shows. The richness of old Xarel·lo vines and local chestnut barrels is beautifully counterbalanced by its acidic backbone and well-built structure. Gracefully ages, gracefully complements indulgent seafood dishes.
Can Suriol Mataró Red — Back to the top
Grapes: Monastrell (also known as Mataró, hence the name)
Soil: gravel, silt, poor and well-drained. Certified organic, vines planted in 2008.
Making of: Spontaneous alcoholic fermentation and maceration for 10 days. After pressing, the wine went through spontaneous malolactic fermentation in 500-liter chestnut barrels, where it spent a total of ~8 months. Bottled without filtration or sulfur addition.
Personality: untamed! Bursting with youthful dark fruit, pleasantly round body, and long spicy aftertaste. Perfect for all your BBQs, great aging potential.
Aged in amphorae made from clay from Suriol’s own estate by the local potter Carles Llarch.
Vineyard: Cal Ron, a 1ha plot planted in 2010-11, estate-owned, dry farmed, certified organic. Loamy soil with calcareous rocks at 300 m of altitude.
2021: white wine made with Malvasia de Sitges (a Catalan variety of the Malvasia grape family; historically used in sweet wines, it’s now enjoying a sort of renaissance as a distinctive dry white wine, as is the case here. Read more about the grape here or here)
Making of: Manual harvest. The grapes are pressed directly and the must is decanted in underground tanks. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation with indigenous yeasts and
bacteria only. Aged 8 months on lees in ceramic amphorae. Bottled the following summer, without filtering, fining or adding sulfites.
Personality: The power of the Malvasia de Sitges, softened by aging in amphorae creates a fruity, powerful and fresh wine, perfect for playing around with the pairing – try it with some richer, creamy chicken & fish dishes or flavorsome Asian recipes.
2020: skin-contact Garnatxa Blanca aka Grenache Blanc
Making of: Wild fermentation and maceration during 5 days with the skins. Pressing and spontaneous malolactic fermentation, then several months of aging in chestnut vats, underground concrete tanks and amphorae made with Suriol’s own clay. Bottled in June without filtering, fining or adding sulfites.
Personality: A fresh and refined Garnatxa, enhanced by maceration and aging, that creates a fragrant, pleasant and seductive wine.
Sang de Drac means “Dragon’s Blood” and it refers to the legend of Sant Jordi (Saint George), the patron saint of Catalonia, who killed a dragon and a rose grew from the soil spotted with his blood. (More on this legend and the traditional feast of St. George here and here.) The ” Label features the painting “Sant Jordi 2015” by Alejandra Rubies.
Grape: Ull de Llebre (Catalan clone of the Tempranillo)
Vineyard: Sandy Loam, limestone. 300 m ALS, planted in 1993 and 1998. Estate-owned, certified organic.
Making of: spontaneous fermentation and 10 days maceration. Pressing and wild malolactic fermentation in underground tanks. Aged 30 months in underground tanks and 12 months in chestnut barrels. Bottled without fining or filtration.
Personality: a classical red, with intense aromas of red fruits and a tertiary touch of balsamico and earth. Pleasantly round with silky texture, definitely a good table companion for all hearty dishes. Good aging potential.
Azimut Cava Brut Nature — Back to the top
In Catalan, the name AZIMUT means the line between the sun (the energy) and the sea (calm and Mediterranean diet).
Soil: Calcareous clay
Varieties: Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada
Vinification Method: Traditional fermentation with indigenous yeasts. After the yeast addition for secondary fermentation, it’s aged for a minimum of 9 months in the bottle (prise de mousse), disgorged at the time of order. Zero dosage. No addition save for a little bit of sulfites at bottling (30ppm max).
Personality: Pale yellow, with fine persistent bubbles. Complex and intense aroma of mature white fruit, soft and elegant palate. Simply perfect for all kind of light meals, toasts, and celebrations.
Azimut Blanc — Back to the top
Vineyard: a 5-hectare plot at 250 meters of altitude, that has a southern exposure with a slight slope, with Mediterranean breezes in the morning and afternoon. 25-year-old vines on calcareous clay.
Varieties: 40% Macabeu, 30% Xarel-lo 30% Garnatxa, 10% Malvasia
Cellar: Vinified in 15,000-liter stainless steel tanks for 30 days with only indigenous yeasts. After which, the wine goes into concrete tanks for 3 months for malolactic fermentation and battonage. The wine is unfined and goes through a soft paper filter to remove tartaric particles. Lightly sulfured at bottling.
Azimut Negre — Back to the top
Vineyard: a 5-hectare plot at 250 meters of altitude, that has a southern exposure with a slight slope, with Mediterranean breezes in the morning and afternoon. 20-year-old vines on calcareous clay.
Varieties: 40% Ull de Llebre(Tempranillo), 20% Garnatxa, 20% Monastrell, 10% Syrah, 10% Samsó (Carignan)
Vinification Method: Vinified in 15,000-liter stainless steel tanks for 20 days with only indigenous yeasts. After which, the wine goes into concrete tanks for 8-15 months for malolactic fermentation and battonage for 3 months. The wine is unfined and goes through a soft paper filter to remove tartaric particles. It is lightly sulfured at bottling.
Azimut Cava Rosé — Back to the top
Age of Vines: 20 years
Yields: 40 hl/ha
Soil: Calcareous clay
Varieties: Garnacha, Monastrell
Vinification Method: Traditional fermentation with indigenous yeasts, zero dosage. Aged a minimum of 10 months in the bottle, disgorged at the time of order.
Azimut Brisat Orange — Back to the top
“Brisa” means pomace in Catalan, hence “Brisat” is the traditional term for skin-contact wines in the Penedés area.
Grapes: Parellada, Sumoll Blanc, Garnatxa Blanca, Moscatell
Vineyards: grapes come from different certified organic farmers that the Suriol family works with in the Penedès area. MARINA DEL GARRAF (coast): Mosctaell and Garnatxa Blanca
from the Bartra family (Masia la Serra). CONCA DEL RIU FOIX (central): Sumoll Blanc from Artur
Freixedas (Bellestar estate). Parellada from the Guilamany family (Can Guineu estate).
500 COSTERS DEL MONTMELL (mountain): Parellada from Josep Martí and Kiko de Can Figueras. Moscatell from the Puig family (Gatalletes estate).
Making of: Natural fermentation with the grapes’ own yeasts, 5 days on skins and then 3 months in underground concrete tanks. No filtration, fining or additives, just a bit of sulfur at bottling (max 30ppm).
Personality: as Assís, the winemaker describes, this is all “texture, spices, fruit, laughter, hanging out”. Fun, easy-going light orange for all sorts of occasions!