The Torre del Veguer winery in Sant Pere de Ribes has just released the second vintage of its Jeronimus wine (DO Penedès). This is a wine that allows Torre del Veguer to enhance its historical legacy and whose philosophy is to redevelop the wine made by the monks of Jerónimos 600 years ago or at least get as close as possible.

It all began in 2015 when we decided to recover an old winery practice, and we tried to make wine in “the happy stone wine press that has always been in the middle of the barrel room”. This was built by the Jerome monks established in Torre del Veguer in 1413, and used to make the wine they consumed daily.

We tried to reproduce the method they used before using it: saturation of the clay with water to make it watertight. So we did, and due to the deterioration of the clay in 24h we lost 4.000L, so the elaboration of wine in these conditions was not advisable nor of common sense.

The next step was to develop a project to make the tank watertight. Therefore, we searched for 3 prototypes and covered them internally with different materials (e.g. epoxy, clay and lime), added wine to observe their behaviour and recorded the visual and sensory perception after 4 and 10 days. The conclusion of the study we kept is: the epoxy did not match the philosophy of the project and the clay could not be in contact with the wine. With these premises we continue with the project, now chopping the joints between stones with hammer and chisel, to proceed to remove the deteriorated clay and add the new materials. After several months of work we did the final test with water and we achieved the watertightness, the winepress was already prepared. A few days later we introduced 4,000 kg of Syrah grapes with 48 hours of cold storage and de-stemming. It was a magical moment. We do not forget the pigeage tomorrow-noon-evening with a steel rod of 4 meters and shoveling. Fermentation in stone is exciting, a return to the origins and a tribute to the ancient traditions of the winery.

Made with Grenache and Syrah from the Mas de les Catalunyes vineyards of the Sant Pere de Ribes family estate, Jeronimus 2016 is aged in 700-litre ceramic amphoras for at least half a year. It is a wine of limited production and according to the winery’s technical director, Marta Estany, it is “aromatic, modern, fresh and seductive”. The director of this Ribes winery, Joaquín Gay de Montellà, states that “with this wine we wanted to maintain the essence of the wine made by the monks of Jerón in the Torre del Veguer in the Middle Ages”. The director of Torre del Veguer adds that “it is a unique wine because of the medieval stone winepress where it ferments and the ageing in ceramic amphora, which helps to smooth the rustic contribution of the stone”.

Jeronimus 2016 is a clear, bright ruby red colour with a medium depth. Fresh notes of black and red fruit (black plum and cherry) and wild (blueberry, honeysuckle and blackberry) appear on the nose. It also has suggestive spicy notes (white pepper and clove). In the mouth it is well-bodied, velvety and rounded thanks to its passage through ceramic amphora. Recommended for all types of red and white meats that are not too greasy. Marida is also especially good with old beef steak and traditional stews such as frincandó with mushrooms or cow’s tail with wine reduction. The unique presentation of the wine consists of Burgundy, labeled with Gothic letters and inspired by the parchments and the wax capsule. In addition, the second vintage of this wine is part of the Massís del Garraf sub-region and its label includes a new indication of organic wine suitable for vegans.

Medieval origins for a wine cellar with a heritage of the Jeronimos monks

Torre del Veguer has a long history, with medieval origins. In 1359 Peter IV of Aragon and III of Catalonia counted all the Catalan territories. In this census it was found that in Sant Pere de Ribes, there was the Quadra d´en Cortey (a group of 8 houses of medieval structure), run by Guillem de Cortey. A few years later he transferred it to Genís Almogàver, a nobleman from Barcelona. In 1413 D. Bertran Nicolau (a merchant from Barcelona) obtained the authorization of Pope Benedict XIII for the foundation of a monastery of Jerónimos friars in the Penedès region. He reached an agreement with Genís Almogàver to acquire the Quadra d´en Cortey, with all the lands, men and women who lived there. The eight houses were inhabited by at least six friars from the Jerome monastery of Cotalba (Valencia) and two friars from the Jerome monastery of Valle Hebron, of whom we have recently found their names. Mr. Bertran Nicolau endowed the Geronimo community of Montolivet with 14,000 pounds. After a few years they moved to another place more favorable for the community, arguing the lack of water and firewood, indispensable for living.

Two centuries later, in 1601, Frederic d´Avinyó inherited the house and obtained the Vegueria del Penedès (an institution of medieval origin on a territory in which absolute power rests with a single figure:’the Veguer’). From this moment on, the house was renamed Torre del Veguer. Already in the 19th century, Miguel Ángel Desmassiéres sold the Torre del Veguer to José Ferrer Vidal, the first generation of the current owner family.

José Ferrer Vidal was interested in oenology and studied in Bordeaux. Later, he founded the textile company’Gumà y Ferrer’, which later became’José Ferrer y Cía. He built the Mar factory on the Rambla de Vilanova. He was really innovative in the technology of spinning and weaving cotton. In 1880 he was appointed president of the Caja de Ahorros de Barcelona.

His son Luis Ferrer-Vidal Soler inherited the Torre del Veguer and presided over the Pension Fund from its foundation in 1903. His descendant Juan Ferrer-Vidal inherited the Torre del Veguer. He was a prestigious Catalan politician (Senator for Tarragona). He built a small theatre in 1895 where some of his own plays were performed. In 1896 he inaugurated a small chapel, dedicated to María Auxiliadora and in the Neogothic style, which is now used in the links held in the cellar.

The successors of Juan Ferrer-Vidal were Agustín Ferrer-Vidal and Goytisolo, of this Elena Ferrer-Vidal Llorens, and currently Joaquim Gay de Montellà Ferrer-Vidal and his three sons: Joaquín, Jorge and Marta Gay de Montellà Estany (6th generation).