The Mas Gil estate, home to the winery of Clos d’Agon in Calonge has been in existence for over 350 years. The story of today’s winery isn’t quite as old, dating back to 1987 when it was established by a French couple. Nowadays it is owned and run by six Swiss wine-lovers and vintners.
A little bit of old history…
The Clos d’Agon winery is situated in the estate belonging to the 350 year old Mas Gil farmhouse which gives its name to the entire property: Clos d’Agon Cellar – Mas Gil. The location couldn’t be better being as it is on the hills overlooking the Mediterranean, between 40m and 140m above sea-level and within the protected natural area of Les Gavarres, a forested mountain massif that stretches from El Baix Empordà into the neighbouring comarca of El Gironès. There is documentary evidence that even 350 years ago the land was already planted with vines typical of the area at that time and wine was being produced. Today the estate covers approximately 42 hectares, around 15 of which are planted with vines.
And a little bit of modern history!
The story of today’s Clos d’Agon winery begins in 1987 when the estate was purchased by a French couple, les Dambois, who, heeding professional advice from two friends from the University of Montpellier, pulled up the existing old and poor-quality vines and replaced them with superior French varieties in an effort to turn the vineyard around and focus on producing high-quality wines. For the red wines they predominantly selected Bordeaux varieties, and for the whites went for vines native to the Rhône valley. And so the Clos d’Agon brand was created.
The vineyard today
In 1998 les Dambois decided to sell up and the estate was purchased by six friends and wine lovers from Switzerland – four of whom remain involved in the business today: Frank Ebinger, Silvio Denz, Alfons Niedhart and Jurg Maurer. The new owners brought in a friend and renowned oenologist from the Ribera del Duero region, Peter Sisseck – who is still with them today – and set about increasing the plantation area by 8 hectares by planting areas in the higher parts of the estate that had fallen out of use. In 2006 they completed constructing, with the help of a well-known architect, Jesús Manzanares, a new and modern winery building right beside the old farmhouse in the middle of the estate, overlooking the sea.
The current technical director, Miguel Coronado, works to continue developing their wines and ensure that they are characterised by a marked style and distinct quality. The uniqueness of their varieties, non-existent in the area until they were planted here, are cultivated in harmony with the Mediterranean environment with the sea only 3km away and the forest of Les Gavarres forming an amphitheatre that almost completely surrounds the vineyard. The soils are composed of clays and loams in the lower areas of the farm, and slate in the upper parts. They practice Integrated Production, which is “a system of production of plants using farming techniques that ensure sustainable agriculture, using methods of integrated pest management compatible with environmental protection, agricultural productivity and the use of natural production mechanisms and resources”.
The grapes that are grown to produce the red wines include Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Merlot. For the whites, they use three varieties originally from the Rhône region: Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. Recently they have begun to add Grenache to that list.
The main brand is Clos d’Agon for both red and white wines. These are complex wines; elegant, fine, powerful and with great storage capacity. They have received high ratings and won praise from various international journalists. In addition, the 2006 White Clos d’Agon was named best white wine from Spain by the Wine Advocate.
They also have another brand, Amic, which comes in white, rosé and red. These are fresh, agile, fruity, lush and easy to drink wines. The rosé has already won several awards, including a golden Vinari award for the best rosé wine in Catalunya.
Then there is the Clos Valmaña, a red made with a Bordeaux style with Merlot the predominant grape but also with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, all grown in their own vineyards, of course.
In certain vintages they also produce a Clos d’Agon Selección Especial, selecting a few barrels (four normally) from the plots located at a higher altitude, to get a wine with an even more Bordeaux-like profile and an even greater storage capacity. The varieties used for this special edition wine are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Clos d’Agon wines are widely recognized worldwide and score highly in reference guides.
Visiting the vineyard
While there aren’t regularly scheduled visits to the vineyard – as they are usually too busy producing wine for us to enjoy – it is possible to arrange a guided visit by contacting them directly and inquiring about available visiting times. Mid-August to mid-October is harvest time though so there’s no point even asking then!