Joan Asens, as technical director, and Aina Mariné, also an oenologist, have taken charge of the new project that has recovered the production of wines in the large farmhouse with medieval origins of Can Lleó, an exciting project with a hundred hectares of vineyards, mostly located in Sant Martí Sarroca and also some in Pacs and Vilobí del Penedès.
Wine has not been made in this spectacular farmhouse in the Alt Penedès, owned by doctors Alberto Lleó and Judith Balmaña, since 1986. Previously, reds had been vinified with the Cariñena, Sumoll and Monastrell varieties; and whites with xarel·lo, red xarel·lo, macabeo and parellada. White wines, like now, had been the majority. With the last harvest they have produced an ancestral parellada sparkling wine without DO, a fruity young red garnacha and two macabeos and a brisada parellada protected by the DO Penedès.
The first wines were bottled last January. All of them are the result of organic farming and a selection of grapes, all born in old vineyards planted in goblet, except for red Garnacha. They have also decided to plant sumoll. The viticultural work on the Can Lleó estate is supervised by the farmer Joan Bonfill.
Its latest novelty is a more than interesting ecological Macabeo breezed from a single plot. It is the result of the 2022 vintage, with an average temperature of about 15.75 °C, slightly above the average in Catalonia, and with a rainfall of 373 mm of rain, a value below the average compared to previous years. The high temperatures and low rainfall caused veraison to arrive suddenly.
In mid-July, the checks for probable alcoholic strength and total acidity made them intuit an early harvest. The first Macabeo was harvested on August 25, obtaining "healthy, aromatic, very fresh musts and with slightly lower yields." But on August 31 they suffered hail, which affected their vineyards in a heterogeneous way. This caused them to harvest the parelladas a few days before to avoid having sources of rot. In summary, the 2021-2022 campaign was dry, with quite advanced and rapid maturation compared to other vintages and with lower than usual productions. They obtained "aromatic and dense" wines.
The grapes for this organic Macabeo are daughters of the Meix vineyard, planted in 1974 on calcareous soils located at an altitude of 228 meters above sea level. They were harvested manually in boxes of 15 kilos. They were destemmed and gently squeezed, and fermented in a stainless steel vat with indigenous yeasts at a controlled temperature between 17 and 18°C.
The hat was worked minimally daily, soaking and keeping the wine in contact with the skins. The maceration lasted for 25 days. Subsequently, it was transferred to another stainless steel tank for its natural decantation, with the aim of eliminating the coarse lees, with 7% wine resulting from pressing. Aging continued for five months, without removing the fine lees, in a 1,200-liter foudre made of fine-grained French oak and in a 1,000-liter stainless steel vat.
It was bottled on Saturday, April 29. Of this first vintage, 2,800 bottles have been produced. The back label of the bottle states that this white has been made with "the efforts of the Carbó-Santacana family and the dedication of Joan Bonfill".
The Macabeu Brisat Vinya Meix 2022 is straw yellow, clear and bright. It exhibits notes of ripe fruit such as peach and apple, in a bed of fine vanilla. Aging in wood is very well integrated. With only 12º of alcohol, it shows a glyceric tactile sensation and a good acidity. Joan Asens affirms that they do not seek maturity, but rather freshness. In fact, it has volume and good acidity. He is convinced that "wine is made in the vineyard." In fact, Aina Mariné specifies exactly what is the ideal time to harvest.
The winery claims that this white is particularly versatile with cured cheeses, baked chicken, grilled fish and soupy rice dishes. Aina Mariné likes to harmonize this white with soupy fish and shellfish rice dishes. Joan Asens prefers to pair it with game fowl, like a woodcock. It is recommended to serve it at a temperature between 8 and 10°C.
Can Lleó is a farmhouse of medieval origin with a 19th-century façade, with an attached neoclassical chapel consecrated from the 18th century (that of the Virgin of the Rose). The fiesta mayor of the neighborhood of Can Lleó (to which the neighborhood of Hostalets has recently joined) is a centuries-old tradition that is celebrated in front of this hermitage every July. The ensemble is protected as a Cultural Property of Local Interest.
The first mention of Can Lleó dates from 1497. The first documents certifying that wines had been harvested and produced on this property date from 1751. It was in the post mortem inventory of Jaume Lleó, where it was mentioned that there were 100 (12,160 liters) loads of wine from that year made at the farmhouse. In the cellar, with a spectacular aging cellar in the subsoil, there had been 52 butts of 9 to 14 loads. The 10 was the most common (1,216 liters). Joan Pons from Cal Gayetano dels Hostalets was responsible for repairing the boots, made of chestnut and oak wood.
Can Lleó wine was negotiated with a broker, and a different price was agreed each year depending on its alcoholic degree. It had been sold in Barcelona in 700-liter bocoyes transported by cart, around the year 1800. In 1956 wine was paid for 5 pesetas (7 for cereal). The price of cereal did not increase significantly for 20 years, and the plantations were gradually replaced by vineyards, which were more profitable. They had sold their grapes to wineries such as Parés Baltà or Torres, among others. They also sold their vine residues to make distillates.
Modesto Lleó was one of the main promoters of the wines made in Can Lleó. He participated in the 1880 international phylloxera congress and received several distinctions for his wines. In addition to Can Lleó, they had produced wines at their farmhouse in Sant Pau d'Ordal. Antonio Massana, father of the current owner of the winery Eudald Massana i Noya, was in charge of the winery. In 1976 Guillermo Lleó Royo, the grandfather of the current owner of Can Lleó, sold this estate to Antonio Massana.