The Marco family have been situated in Porrera - a small municipality of Priorat - since 1497. They had been progressively making wine at a fantastic location within the region until the late 19th century. This was when the devastating pest of phylloxera destroyed their vineyard and led the family to relocate to Barcelona. But Ramon Marco Abella, born in 1898, never lost his determination to head back to Priorat and revive the vineyards.
In 2001 Ramon's grandson David decided he could do one better. He built a brand-new winery that was three tiers high and went a staggering seven meters into the hillside. Three years later, the 2004 vintage was such a success that both David and his wife Olivia gave up on their professional careers to follow their passion and concentrate on making wines that were an authentic representation of the fantastic character wines from the Priorat region can show.
The vines at the Marco Abella estate are grown on terraces at high altitudes that range from 200 to 1500 metres. What's more, Priorat has a unique microclimate with warm summers and cool winters. The warm Mediterranean influence on the climate is moderated by the wind. Rainfall comes in at around 400mm annually, and the Licirella soil is less than fertile. These elements combined are what contributes to the wine's style. The high altitude maintains good acidity, while lower yielding vines and the unique soil make for a full but mineral driven wine. One of only two D.O.Q areas in Spain, the region is now recognised worldwide for its quality.
Organic and biodynamic viticulture are adapted at Marco Abella to suit the environment. All harvesting is done by hand and then sorted - again by hand - in the winery. This is to ensure only the best quality fruit makes it into the blend. Fermentation takes place using natural indigenous yeast in cement tanks and open topped wooden fermentation barrels. The wines are a blend of Garnacha and Carignan from old vines planted between 1934 and 2003. At the estate there are around 30ha of vines planted in six different plots, which gives diversity to the wines. The oldest of the plots was planted in 1934, and yields are very low with only 200 grams of grapes per vine. This is what gives the wines their aromatic concentration and depth of flavour.
As an interesting side note, the eye-catching labels were a gift from renown Spanish artist Josep Guinovart (an old friend of David's grandfather) to David and his wife Olivia when they decided to build the new Bodegas.