Organic Wine: Can Rich… An Ibicencan Way of Life?17th August 2017
I am sipping on my glass of local organic red and thinking how flavourful it tastes and suddenly wondering where and how it was made…(as one often does in these complex production times). I look at the Can Rich label prominently positioned on the bottle of wine and decide to go visit the vineyard – in Ibiza – that is responsible for making this wine taste so structured and complex in flavour despite its relatively young age.
I drive through the narrow, winding back roads in the direction of San Mateo village, turn in the direction of ‘Forada’ (a little market taking place every Saturday selling local produce and goods), keep winding until I am in Buscatells land and drive by a rather large property of bright green grape vines. I turn in at the Can Rich sign and am immediately struck by the colour of the soil, a characteristic dark orangey red, made more noticeable by the shiny green juxtaposed vines. I enter the bougainvillea strewn payes house, and into the local shop for a chat with Stella Gonzalez Tuells, a key player in the Riera family’s organic vineyard.
We chat generally about the wine market and Stella starts to explain how 20 years ago there really wasn’t much thought about how wine was made in Spain and whether or not it contained sulphites and so on. The early 1990’s marks a period wherein there was an increased popularity in organic wines around Europe and thereafter in Spain.
Interview with Stella Gonzalez Tuells
How long has Can Rich existed in Ibiza and why did the Riera family decide to enter the organic wine market?
” In 1995 my family realised that there was indeed an interest and demand for organic wine on the island. We were born and bred in Ibiza and we knew the quality and fertility of the soil was ideal for growing grapes. Soon after in 1997 my husband decided to plant 17 hectares of traditional and imported varieties. Our first harvest came to fruition in 2000 with our first bottles out on the market in 2001. Our wine was welcomed by the locals and the demand has continued to grown ever more. We are actually still the ONLY organic vineyard in Ibiza! “
What differentiates Can Rich wine from other global organic wines available on the market?
” We differentiate ourselves because of the specific characteristics defining ‘Vino de la Tierra de Ibiza’ (wine from the land of Ibiza). This terminology is a Spanish geographical indication for wines located in Ibiza
and points to the unique attributes of the soil on the resulting quality of the wine. You see, the main thing is that Ibiza has little or no rainfall and plenty of sunshine all year round. Most nights we have just the right amount of humidity all of these factors leading to propitious wine making. Take for instance our red wines, we harvest them in September and take advantage of the fact they are exposed to the hot August sun. This makes the wines more structured and complex in taste (my initial observation confirmed). Our whites however are harvested in August and so not subjected to August sun allowing them to keep their fruity and fresh aromatic flavour in place.”
Is it fair to say that Can Rich has become part and parcel of Ibiza’s wine lifestyle?
“Absolutely, yes. There is now a much greater demand for an organic lifestyle in general and wine plays a fundamental part. I think it also has to do with people being more aware of the health benefits associated with eating and drinking organic. “
Is Can Rich able to produce a lot of wine and does it export?
” Can Rich remains a small vineyard with a production of a hundred thousand bottles a year. Given the costly and more labour intensive aspects of organic wine production, I think we will probably stay relatively small. We do export to Belgium, Holland, Austria, Switzerland and Japan but we won’t be trying to enter any of the more established wine markets like France and Italy. We just can’t compete! “
Which wines would you recommend our readers?
” We recently won a prestigious Golden Leaf Award at an organic wine contest with our young 2016 red wine. It was chosen for its deep earthy full bodied tannic taste. Our white, Blanc de Blanc Extra Brut ranked silver was listed for its fruity, aromatic if slightly vanillin taste.”
I thank Stella and have a little more of a wander around the beautiful property thinking all the while how yet another successful Ibicencan rooted business has filtered its way into my daily life. I indulge in a little wine tasting and have one of their guided tours as to learn a little more about the production process. Soon after I buy a case of their Blanc de Blanc Extra Brut and rush on home to tell my family about my new discovery!
More information about the wine and how you can get your hands on a bottle here