The wine tradition here goes back many centuries but had been lost in the 1960s. Sauvella is now reviving this ancient culture in a modern manner. We grow a mix of indigenous and more common grapes that thrive in the extreme mountain climate and on the unique soil of reddish marls and sandstones.
Care and Quality
We lovingly cultivate our grapes, with special regard for the environment. We then select the best ones to create surprising natural wines of high quality and character: they are generally complex yet smooth and of intense colour. Our wines have been described as ‘spectacular, excellent, ranking among the top wines of Spain’. Sauvella’s selection includes an elegant white, a rosé, and red wines, both young and oak-aged. In years when conditions are favourable, we also allow sun-dried grapes to transform into a very fruity dessert wine.
Geology and Wine
The rocks that make up the subsoil of the vineyards are of great importance for the resulting wines. Together with climate and the way we cultivate, geology is determinant for quality blends.
It is possible to literally see the dinosaur footprints alongside the vineyard, to learn how the geological formation of the earth determines the outcome of the wine and, to top it off, to sample a few of our wines. Read more about our tour De la Roca a la Copa.
Respect for the Earth
Sauvella lovingly cultivates its grapes with respect for the earth and the environment. We carefully select and hand-pick them from our organic vineyards at altitudes of more than 500 meters.
Regenerative Viticulture for a Diverse Ecosystem
In our vineyards we allow natural vegetation to form a covr under and in between the vines, rathert han dragging open the earth every year. Some years we add organic mulch. This way we keep the soil healthy. The cover lowers soil erosion, acts as fertilizer, increases the availability of nutrients in the soil and improves its capacity to retain water. This also supplies grazing for our flock of Southdown sheep, effectively creating a new, biologically diverse ecosystem in the vineyard: from cultivated vines and wild plants to livestock, to beneficial and predator insects, to microbial life in the soil.
A Unique Mix of Grape Varieties
The wine tradition in Sauvella’s home region, the Pallars, goes back many centuries but had been lost in the 1960s. Sauvella is now reviving this ancient culture in a modern manner. We have found that well-known grapes Syrah, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon thrive in the extreme mountain climate and on the interbedded reddish marls and sandstones. As an experiment we planted Italian Nebbiolo and Primitivo varieties and these too have adapted very well. Furthermore we grow Spanish grapes Tempranillo and Macabeo and are recuperating the indigenous Brocada and Sumoll. Of the latter, a very fruity variety, only a few hectares remain in the world today. This unusual diversity in grapes allows Sauvella to experiment with combinations of many distinct flavours to create wines with character.
Sauvella lets a small flock of Southdown sheep graze the vineyard. They keep our covercrop low and they fertilize the soil.
Winemaking starts in the vineyard. Throughout the year we care for the plants and soil with dedication and attention to detail. Only when the grapes are exactly ripe, do we pick them and bring them into the Sauvella winery. This is a narrow range of only a few days and differs for each grape variety.
We pick all our grapes by hand so that we can make a first quality selection in the vineyard itself. We collect them in small crates of about ten kilograms, to avoid bruising. Then we transport the crates to the winery where we measure their weight and overall quality. The grapes go through a second selection process in which we discard everything other than quality bunches. They are carefully destemmed and crushed and this grape paste is deposited into stainless steel tanks. We keep each grape variety in separate tanks to maintain quality objectives. As we fill them up, we chill the tanks below ten degrees Celsius and sustain this temperature for about ten days. The process is called cold maceration and it allows for more extraction of aromas from the grapes, avoiding harsher components. Th resulting wine will have a better expression of fruit. Following this cooling period, we leave the must to ferment through the native yeast already present on the grapes. We ensure temperatures don’t rise too high and perform regular pump-overs and cap punch-downs to extract the best flavours from the grape skins. At this stage we decide which batches will be made into young wines or and which will age in oak barrels. Wines that are to age are given a longer skin contact.
After fermentation and stabilization through decantation some wines are ready to blend and bottle. These white, rosé and red wines are meant to be drunk relatively young.
Wines that, according to Sauvella’s high quality standards, have superior characteristics are treated differently. After fermenting these wines are transferred to oak barrels. Our barrels, new or very new, are mainly of french origin, some are american. We always look for a favourable mix of coopers to increase the likelihood of rich, complex wines.
Aging lasts more or less twelve months and during this phase we regularly check the wines and stir the lees. Wines from different grape varieties are still in separate barrels. We don’t make blends before minutely testing many trial blends. After the definite blends are bottled, they start another equally important aging process. A slow ripening during many years, before they are released to be enjoyed.
The Wine Shop & Tasting Area
You will find the wine shop in the heart of Orcau itself, in a medieval cellar where farmers used to make wine for centuries. Here is where you can taste our wines. On our pleasant little terrace under a pergola of Brocada grapes, we are always happy to pour a glass for you to sample.
We receive small groups for tastings, for tourists or wine devotees alike. Visiting our winery is also possible upon arrangement. Special tours with geology linked theme are available.
Sauvella’s wines are all natural wines. This means many things. First of all, we always start from 100% organic grapes that we grow in our own certified vineyards. All of our wines are composed with minimal intervention allowing only the natural yeasts found on the grapes themselves to ferment the wine.
Our wines also undergo a second fermentation – called malolactic fermentation – that transforms harsh acids into softer ones. Here, again, we only allow the naturally occurring bacteria in the wine to perform this process.
We never filter our wines to ensure that all flavours may continue to develop in the bottle. We use innovative techniques, such as extracting the grapes’ colours and aromas at low temperatures before they ferment, which also results in finer, more mouth-friendly tannins.
We use no fining whatsoever, to avoid withdrawing valuable taste compounds. Lees stay with the wine as long as possible. The only basic rough sediment separation is done through decantation at the tank or barrel level.
We believe our winemaking philosophy results in respectful, harmonious and very high quality wines.
Founder of Sauvella, enologist, grape grower, geologist
Assistant vineyards & winery
Cofounder, host, geologist
Elzeline van der Hoek
Sauvella collaborates with a handful of initiatives that match our company’s philosophy.
Ruta del Vi de Lleida
Go on a wine route through the province of Lleida. “A journey of unique experiences discovering the best our region has to offer. A pleasure for the senses: 43 wineries, 7 landscapes and mosaics of colours, each completely different from the next, with vines planted at altitudes from 200 metres up to more than 1000 in the Pyrenees, resulting in truly amazing wines thanks to the huge temperature range. More than seventy companies, including restaurants, hotels, and tourism activity firms committed to astounding you and making your time with us an experience to talk about and remember.”
The Lleida Wine Route is an excellent way to experience the wineries, restaurants and nature of the province Lleida with all your senses.
www.rutadelvidelleida.cat/en/soci_rutadelvi/celler-sauvella/ (English, Spanish and Catalan)
Al Teu Gust
Al Teu Gust, To Your Taste, promotes local produce and products from the Pallars Jussà region: wines but also cheeses, honey, olive oil and more.
The Pallars Jussà, a wide valley in the southern Pyrenees where the rivers Noguera Pallaresa and Flamisell flow (in the Lleida province), has a long history in viticulture, agriculture, livestock and sheep herding.
Typical local products include goat cheese and sausages like xolís and secallona, both cured pork, and girella, with lamb, rice, garlic and parsley. Coca de recapte is a savoury flatbread with vegetables, sardines or butifarra, a spiced sausage. There are local beers, liqueurs, rosemary honey, jams and cookies too.
The history of wine is an interesting one. Local viticulture dates back centuries, perhaps even to the Romans and by the beginning of the twentieth century the Pallars Jussà boasted over 8.600 hectares of vineyards. Then, the phylloxera bug devastated most vineyards in Europe including in the Pallars region. However, during the last ten to twenty years, viticulture and quality winemaking have made a formidable and delicious comeback.
So, on a visit to the Pallars Jussà you can enjoy a large variety of food and wine and get to know the best of the land and its people.
More information: www.alteugust.com (currently only available in Catalan)
At Sauvella we are very appreciative of our region’s exceptional geological history and we know dinosaurs walked over our vineyards, as their footprints have been professionally identified.
Eureka is a local company that offers geotouristic activities to get to know the Pallars Jussà region through geology and paleontology offering a unique and largely unknown vision of its nature and landscape.
Sauvella and Eureka have joined forces to offer you the best of both worlds in one day. Experience the landscape, learn about the geology and its relationship to our wines and, of course, get to sample those wines yourself. This is the tour De la Roca a la Copa, From the Rock to the Wine Glass. Book your tour here.
Another experience we offer, Toscavi, focuses on what tosca, a specific type of rock from the Pallars, has to do with local winemaking. Book Toscavi.
Sauvella is proud to be collaborating with the recently established geopark Orígens. Geoparks are privileged areas to protect geological heritage sustainably. The Orígens park displays geology of international significance, in a register of rocks extending over the last 550 million years.
In this area our winery plays an important part in promoting this rich heritage in our tours and also offering local gastronomy.
Àpat Pallars Jussa
Association to promote local gastronomy.
Association to promote local tourism.
Promotion of tourism throughout the whole Pyrenean mountain range.
Our local tourist office.
Local museum with an important collection of fossil dinosaur remains.