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Thursday, 29 December 2016

Mas Molla ... going strong since 1338 ...

At this time of the year we tend to go through rather a lot of vino, with friends and family dropping in, dinners, celebrations and general merry-making. Having had a fairly thirsty Christmas we headed out yesterday afternoon to replenish supplies for the New Year.

Rather than trekking off to Oddbins, we went to the bodega of Mas Molla, where the same family have been making wine  in the same way on the same land since 1338. I kid you not. They cared for their vines in the fields hereabouts as the Hundred Years War raged across Europe. They shivered with fear as the population round about perished from the Black Death, which flared up for the first time in 1348 - just 10 years into their history here.

When they first started out in business it was still (fairly) respectable to believe that the world was flat, and it would be almost 200 years before Nicolas Copernicus suggested (in 1543) that the earth revolved around the sun. Can you imagine that? The Molla family were working here when heliocentrism was regarded as a dangerous heresy. They were doing their thing whilst poor old Galileo was being investigated, and held under house arrest by the Roman Inquisition for having supported the heretical notion that the sun was at the centre of the solar system.

More than a century and a half would have to pass from the time they opened shop here before Christopher Columbus sailed across the pond and discovered America.

I could go on in this vein for some time ... .

Standing there yesterday looking out over the terrain, dotted with rows of (very dead-looking) winter vines it sent a real shiver down my spine to think about just how long this family-chain, down through the generations of the Molla family, has been tied to these same fields. I was more than a little bit blown away by my own roll-call of events that they've lived through ... .

Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
The cellars of Mas Molla, Calonge


I think we can safely say it's a timeless sort of a  place. And when you enter the cellars you take a trip back across that long time-line to an era when wine-making was a skill not aided by modern chemistry. They don't add any new-fangled chemicals to the mix here. The whole show runs according to the principals of traditional pre-industrial wine-making.

There's a wonderful musty smell of wine vapour hanging in the cool, damp air that all lovers of vino are guaranteed to swoon over. Yesterday it felt cold and damp in there; a notable contrast to bright sunshine and springtime temperatures we'd been enjoying outside.

Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
The cellars of Mas Molla, Calonge


 Most of the casks in which they age the wines are several decades old. A few date back to the 1820s, their ends warped and distorted with humidity and the passing of the years.

Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
The cellars of Mas Molla, Calonge

We were shown around by the lovely dueña of the winery, Maria Molla, who told us all about the history of the vineyard, and explained how the wines were produced. This remains very much a family-run business. Maria's husband and three daughters are all actively involved, cultivating the vines, producing the wine and running tours of the vineyard in the summer months. The daughters are modern women, who juggle the demands of the wine-making with the demands of bringing up their young families. We briefly met Monste, the youngest daughter, who, having been translating for some English-speaking clients, was in a rush to feed her baby, the most recent addition to the Molla family line.


Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
The cellars of Mas Molla, Calonge

During the summer months they also sell soft fruit in the local markets.

Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)

Of course we sampled the wines on offer. Maria explained that the offering depended on what hadn't already sold out. Each year they sell everything they produce, and at different points of the year new offerings become available as wine is siphoned out of the casks and bottled. Three 2014 reds: Vi Vermell de Jaqué, Vi Monastrell and Vi Volvos were available. They were all delicious, but the Vi Vermell de Jaqué was my favourite. It was made from Tempranillo blended with Jaqué. The Jaqué is a local grape, that is very close to the wild grapes from whom the whole field of viniculture has grown. They are highly resistant to phylloxera, the disease that destroyed most of the European vineyards in the nineteenth century. As such they must have played their part in saving the enterprise here at Mas Molla from destruction in its time of need. The Jaqué vines produce low quantities of grapes, but they add a beautiful aromatic quality to the nose, making it an especially smooth, elegant snifter. 

We also tried the rural Cava, and a delicious dessert wine made from Malvasia grapes. 


Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)

Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)

Unfortunately they do not accept credit cards, and, as we'd turned up with a limited amount of efectivo, we weren't able to purchase quite so much as we'd wanted to. Still, that gives us an excellent excuse to go back again very, very soon.


Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)

There was a steady stream of locals coming and going all the time on similar missions to our own. If you save your bottles, and bring them back to be used again, they give you a 20 cent refund on your purchase price. 

Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)

At the moment the fields are looking really dead. It's hard to imagine that the vines will start sprouting life again in a few weeks' time as the cycle of the year moves unstoppably on. 

Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)






Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)

Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)


Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)

If you're in the area and you'd like to check out the winery you can find their website here: Mas Molla

Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)


And if you'd like to listen to Monste Molla explaining a little about how it feels to be a custodian of a vineyard with a tradition that runs back through your family for the better part of seven centuries you can listen to this Youtube presentation here: Montse Molla

Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)


Maria pointed out a facsimile of the original land grant to the Molla estate way back in 1338 to Arnau Molla de la Riera. They've got it pinned up proudly in the cellar. I've got a feeling that he'd be more than happy if he could  see how his enterprise here has survived and prospered for so many generations.

Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)
The 1338 land grant of
Mas Molla, Calonge (Girona)

All the best for now,

Bonny xox 

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