«We went from Woodstock to the stopover in Milan from one day to the next»
Daphne Glorian was born in Paris 63 years ago. She arrived in Priorat in 1989 at the hands of René Barbier and Álvaro Palacios, where she later founded the Clos i Terrasses winery, in the municipality of Gratallops. The three of them, together with Josep Lluís Pérez and Carles Pastrana, were the engine of change in a territory from which young people were fleeing due to lack of opportunities and which, starting in the 1990s, began to be known worldwide among the most select palates in the world of wine. .
Clos Erasmus and Laurel are the two brands bottled by Clos i Terrasses, with a production of only 3,200 bottles in the case of the former and 22,000 in the case of the latter.
How did you start in the world of wine?
Because an English company offered me a job totally by chance. I didn't know anything about wine and the idea was to stay there for three months, but I stayed. I was tasting wines, attending classes and I loved it.
What was it that caught her?
I love working physically and being close to nature. In general it is a lovely world and the good thing is that if you don't sell it you can take it.
Until, by chance of life, he met René Barbier and Álvaro Palacios and this is where it all begins. What was the first impression?
We met at a wine fair in the United States and became instant friends. They had started here, they explained a little to me and a few months later I came to visit them. The idea was to make the winery together and each one with his others of vineyard We had no money and it was the only way we could make wine.
Did you leave everything overnight to come to Priorat?
I didn't leave much either. In fact, I worked in a wine company and I stayed for a while, because I had to pay the bills. She was there and later she picked the grapes. It was very nice.
He arrived at Priorat at the end of the eighties. What was your first impression of him?
How to get to the moon I didn't expect anything like that. I remember coming up from Falset that I thought where I've gotten myself. Gratallops was totally another world. We came with the idea of making wine with friends and having a good time.
Seen in perspective was it a hippy adventure?
Yes, yes, quite a lot. With ambitions to make a good wine, but we were in our early twenties, we weren't afraid of anything.
What surprised you the most?
The feeling of total isolation. When I arrived, Gratallops had sixty inhabitants. Everyone had gone to Barcelona or France because the people couldn't live off their farms, since they sold the grapes to the cooperative and it wasn't valued. There were very few wineries that bottled.
“The most important thing is that now 200 people live in Gratallops instead of 60. And in all the towns it is the same, the young people have returned”
People were leaving because they couldn't make a living and they came here to start that adventure. What made you think it would have a future?
I suppose because we had seen him traveling to other regions of the wine world and then we had an idea of what could be done.
Much has been said and written about the five magnificent Priorat. Do you think there is a bit of romance in all that?
Yes. Many people see that making wine is super romantic, but they don't see the problems of every day. It is not enough to plant a vine and throw the grapes in the vat. We have moved forward, but it was very hard and more than once we thought that this was not going to go well. We were stubborn and in the end we all put up with it, I don't know how, but we managed it.
Madness or visionaries?
Perhaps both, we were dreamers but knowing the type of wines that were made around the world and seeing the soil here and tasting some of the oldest wines, it did not take a genius or a total visionary to think that it could be done A very good wine, otherwise we would not have tried it. Things happen here during the vinifications and the aging of the wine that every year my jaw drops.
You practice biodynamic agriculture. How it started?
I met people in Burgundy who did it and I was interested in the subject. Here at Priorat, working organically is easy. With the climate we have, if you take good care of yourself, there are no diseases. It is an environmental issue and I do not pretend that my wine is better because I work with it organically or biodynamically, for me it is knowing that nature is well treated and that I am not going to throw away products that are going to poison or impact the soil, the waters or whatever.
What you dreamed of, how does it look now?
Very different projects have been carried out because we have different sensitivities and each one of us has followed a path based on experience and ideas. Álvaro has his experience from La Rioja, René had had that of his family, I had little compared to them, because I don't come from the world of wine. We've always gone in different directions, but then we do things together and have dinner together.
And in the nineties he began to reap the first fruits and his wine, Clos Erasmus, was the first in Spain to achieve 99 points on the Parker list.
It was a work issue, but we were also lucky because in the nineties many things changed in society. There was more money and the world in general got richer because of globalization, which made people really start to be interested in both food and wine. The thing went faster than we thought and we started to get very good notes in wine magazines.
«It was an adventure and it still is in a certain way because the interesting thing about wine is that it is endless. We keep learning»
What were you looking for with Clos Erasmus?
It is difficult to describe this. Talking with a winemaker I explained what I wanted to do and after listening to me he told me that the wine looks like the person who makes it. You can try all you want, but you will come back to the same place. I found it depressing, but it is a comment that the truth is that yes, the personality of the person who makes it is felt through the wine. They are the decisions of every day, that we do not even realize.
Do you recognize yourself in the wine you make?
Maybe yes, but do we know ourselves? It is very subjective, because each year I am already projecting for the following year. I am constantly thinking about the next vintage.
He has just won the highest score on the Parker list for the fourth time. He hasn't been too bad.
Yes, 2020 was also a tough vintage in which it was very complicated and we did a lot of work. It's nice.
When he got here I guess he didn't imagine something like that.
We didn't think that far. With 99 points in 1994 I couldn't believe it. It's just that we went from Woodstock to the Milan stopover from one day to the next. We were here doing the hippy and suddenly people came from all over the world, importers and journalists.
Did they realize it was worth it?
Despite the difficult moments, there are more good than bad. It was worth it and more than anything because in the end, the most important thing is that now 200 people live in Gratallops instead of 60. And in all the towns it is the same, the young people have returned, there are children in school and who had farms that came once a month because they lived in Barcelona, the children have studied oenology and are working the land. This does make sense and is important.
With the Clos Erasmus and the Laurel, do you reinvent yourself every year?
Yes, you do not have to stay fixed. Every year I think that's it, I've seen it all, nothing will surprise me and the following year you say what this is. You have to think, adapt and be flexible. It was an adventure and it still is in a certain way because the interesting thing about wine is that it is endless and we continue to learn more things.
Learn or unlearn taking into account climate change.
You have to consider working the vineyard a little differently and adapt, and the good thing about wine is that it forces us to do it. It is not a tire factory, here we must also understand the changes in the market because customers also evolve. My palate today is not the same as it was I don't know how many years ago, therefore, I am not looking for the same things in a wine. It's like music, we start with Mozart, we go through Rachmaninoff and we go back to Bach. We are evolving and our taste too. And this is what fascinates me about this world.
«There are many people in Barcelona who don't even know that Priorat exists and we are an hour and a half away. You have to be realistic too."
If instead of making 30,000 bottles, it would make 60,000, the profits would be greater. Why do not you do it?
60,000 bottles, no way. On a practical level it is much more complicated because we are a very small team. Growing up a lot wouldn't be easy. A little yes, because it happens that I have a couple of farms that I had to plant and they are beautiful. It's a pleasure to see them, but I don't want to buy grapes either and this is already limiting.
Does the feminine wine label bother you?
It doesn't bother me, but I don't really understand what is meant by this, I'm not clear about it.
What would it mean if Priorat was recognized as a World Heritage Site?
It would be wonderful to protect this site. It is very complicated because it is a puzzle in which you also have to accept some limitations and not everyone wants to do this. You have to go looking for an intermediate, without forgetting that Priorat is very special and a beautiful place, but UNESCO has many other candidates.
Are they "guilty" of having put this region on the world map?
Yes, but don't believe it either. There are many people in Barcelona who don't even know that Priorat exists and we are an hour and a half away. You have to be realistic too. The problem of being a very small area with a very small production is that it doesn't give the whole world know.
Problem or advantage?
Totally. We try, because the future of Priorat depends on this. It is the danger of believing that the work is done, but for nothing. We have to keep talking about Priorat, making better wines and working every day. We cannot put on the crown of laurels and that's it.
Is agriculture the same as thirty years ago?
30 or 40 years ago, when people discovered that they could buy chemical fertilizer and that the vineyard would produce three times more, they were delighted. Now we are going back to better quality products, but we must be very aware that this has another cost, there is no more. Later it is ironic but in the end I work the vineyard with mules because there is no other. The slope doesn't leave you many options. I'm lucky that I can do it that way and then people buy it.