Porcellànic | A New Generation Of Organic Wine
Ton Rimbau describes himself as a self-taught perma-viticulture practitioner. According to the principles of this practice, the life of human beings is combined in a respectful and beneficial way with that of animals and plants. Such process focuses both, on a successive optimization of the system for the needs of the present, and also for the benefit of future generations.
The design process aims for an optimal integration of the ecological, economic and social needs of the system, so that in the long term, it can be self regulated and maintained in a dynamic balance through minimal interference. The practice thus seek to overcome in a conscious way the still predominant, linear and causal process, whose destructive consequences we are attending today.
Tom Rimbau is from “Penedès”, wine region of Catalonia with excellent Denomination of Origin (D.O) wines. Its landscape is an oasis to indulge the five senses; a mosaic of wine, cava and history… To get lost in the calm of the roads that plait the vineyards of the Penedès, it is definitely a unique experience in connection with nature. The landscape is revealed as images of a large garden, where the grapes that will travel the world are born. These images, are works of art of the wine culture.
Ton has been growing the vineyards since 2000 and in 2005, he decided to apply the perma-viticulture with a number of biodynamic practices. The vineyards function like a forest, with minimal intervention. In order to avoid possible contamination of the products used in adjacent traditional growing areas, Ton cuts out least two rows of grape plants around the outline of his land. This ensures that chemical products -not suitable for the production of organic crops- don’t affect the production of his wines. This system reduces the production of wine considerably, however, the concentration of minerals in the wine increases and enhances the flavors.
The culture of wine and its consumption associated with good gastronomy is increasingly manifesting, not only in prestigious restaurants but also, within our homes. When asking Ton on whether the wine producers are prepared for the growing demand for good wines, his answer is yes. However, in high-end wines such as “Porcelanic”, due to the application of permaviticulture and biodynamics, the production is difficult to increase in its different cycles.
Ton recognizes that his beginnings as a permaviticultor were not easy and had little recognition in a region with a long wine tradition and especially in his place of birth and residence, Vilobí del Penedès. However, he states that it was Joan Valencia, Catalan and distributor at Cuvee 3000,who recognized the quality of his wines. Today, the wines of Ton Rimbau are embraced in Michelin starred restaurants, some of which include El Celler de Can Roca, Xemei, Dos Cielos, Moments at Hotel Mandarin Oriental and Sant Pau, in Catalonia. Noma and Bror, in Denmark and Aqua in Germany.
Large amount of minerals, the depth of the wine, exceptionally long flavors and a metamorphosis that the wine befalls inside the glass “as if it were a chameleon of flavors”, Ton says –this are the qualities that the sommeliers found in his wines. Not surprisingly, Josep Roca -one of the best sommeliers today- has sponsored “ Porcelànic”, a natural sweet wine from 2012 which he pairs very specially with “Lactic”, one of the gastronomic proposals at the prestigious restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca . Josep and his brothers, Joan and Jordi, owners of the restaurant, while sommelier, chef and pastry chef, obtained the third Michelin star of the restaurant in 2009. Since then, It has been repeatedly qualified among the best restaurants in the world by the British magazine “Restaurant”. Specifically, in 2013 and 2015 was ranked at the first position.
It is such a world-wide prestige that in 2006, critics of the gastronomy and culinary art considered that their dishes could be in the Gugenheim of Bilbao or in the MoMa.
Last September, Joan Roca stated in an interview during the celebration “Sopar de les estrelles” in Barcelona – on the occasion of the International Year of Gastronomy- that “we are living a gastronomic revolution in which talent is oriented in favor of gastronomic tradition, innovating and giving more value to small producers “.
Ton Rimbau belongs to that saga of small producers who love the land of their ancestors. He knows that everything one does with passion is rewarding and ends up paying off. Today, he acknowledges that all the efforts since he started this project, are bringing very positive results. The biggest achievement -he explains proudly- is that he has managed to demonstrate that growing grapes and producing without a single drop of chemicals, can bring as a result a great wine.
“I struggle and have a hard time delaying the harvest when all the grape growers collect the grapes to make their wines. In my case I must wait one or two additional months, as the the principles of permaagriculture and biodynamics require. But I also enjoy doing it like this”- he explains. A good lesson that we learn from his attitude: never give up, fight for what you believe and trust your own instinct, while remaining humble and consistent with your beliefs.
When we asked Ton how he would marry his wines, he responds: “Clearly my wines are not to marry in its general meaning. They are wines that move constantly, they are not motionless as those that contain sulphites. However, I would say they combine very well with rice, fish and oysters. My sweet wine combines well dark chocolate, blue cheese, pastry and can even be served as an appetizer “. Talking with Ton Rimbau doesn’t leave you indifferent, he transmits the passion for what he does. He is an entrepreneur who doesn’t stop dreaming. His latest dream: build an aquatic winery with a large swimming pool where he will submerge his wines, which he already places in special ceramic bottles. Visitors will be able to walk through its themed corridors. Large stained glass will allow to observe that great work of the enology -the Porcelanic wines. Perhaps someday they will also deserve the comments of great winemakers and sommeliers, saying that they could be in museums such as the Gugenheim or the MoMa.
But for Ton, the wineries are not only a dream, it is a great project that has been pursuing for some years. The main center of attention would be the aquatic winery. But in its eagerness to emphasize the harmony between landscape, nature and the products of the land, in the design of the project he also foresees an observatory with views of the great mountain of Montserrat. In addition, he also aims for a great showcase of “proximity products” in which his wines will have the protagonism, but also local products such as cheeses, cookies and wines of other small producers in the country, mainly of the region.
With the magnitude and singularity of such project, we ask him what is his plan to attract investors, to which he responds with the spontaneity and simplicity that characterizes him: “The truth is that I could not define it sufficiently with words. But whoever arouses curiosity and is interested, I would tell them to accompany me to the vineyards. I would show them how I work with my collaborators: magnets, colors, glasses with encrypted information, insects like spiders, plants like aloe vera, decoction of plants like garlic, rosemary, thyme, horsetail, nettle…I would show my BIOL Biofertilizer and the sea water extract called ORMUS. All this and the future location of the wineries presided over by the majesty of the mountain of Montserrat, are my most convincing arguments. “
Ton does not fail to surprise with his sense of humor when he refers to some of his “collaborators”: “I have some employees who are the bats. I build them nests and, in exchange for the lodging, they eat mosquitoes and night butterflies that would otherwise damage the vines. “
His explanations about the behavior of nature continue to keep our attention. He explains that bats and spiders, together they eliminate 95% of harmful butterflies (Lobesia Botrana) that attack the vines. This technique reduces the pressure the night butterflies exert on crops, without completely eliminating them. Besides that bats are thus assured of their food year after year, it is possible to maintain the ecosystem, maintaining at least a low presence of the harmful insects.
“I am sure their presence is not bad at all”. Some good function must have although I don’t know it myself. And we must respect it because nature is wise” -he says.
His persevering attitude, flexibility and resilience give him definitely a great capacity for improvisation in the face of setbacks. Surely, there mostly lies the attainment of his achievements. When asked if he considers himself a successful individual his answer was:
“Not really! But I felt good when someone knelt in front of me and said that I was the God of Wine; or when someone asked me to sign the bottles they had purchased. For me, success would be that my work is recognized, to be heard and thus be able to influence other winemakers to abandon cultivation and production with chemical practices.”