Aixala i Alcait
Celler Aixalà i Alcait is a small family winery bursting with unique wines made by Jordi Aixalà, Sussi Alcait, and their precocious winemaker daughter, Alzina. Jordi is a native of Torroja del Priorat and former mayor of the gorgeous mountain-top village perched in the center of a sweeping panorama of swirling slopes and valleys for which the Priorat is famous. Despite the rising profile of the region’s wines in the 1990s, young people in the Priorat were encouraged to move to cities and seek professional careers as farming was not considered a viable career path. Jordi was undeterred and began farming his family’s vineyards and olive groves straight out of high school in 1995, as well as planting new ones. Aixalà i Alcait’s 13.5ha of vineyards are certified organic (as are their olive groves). Protecting the health and integrity of the land is a non-negotiable and long-term mission that they are vocal about. Jordi is a viticulturist first and foremost and renowned among all the top Priorat wineries as a source of great certified organic grapes. The fame of the Priorat DOQ has attracted wealth and foreign investment on a scale that local farmers cannot compete with. To defend their family’s heritage, Jordi and Sussi have opted to buy land and plant new vineyards (buying old vineyards is prohibitively expensive). The Priorat’s ancient slate soils, known as ‘llicorella’, are more like rock than soil, which makes planting vines and carving out terraces a dangerous and backbreaking (and tractor-destroying) job. The way Jordi, Sussi, and Alzina see it, there’s no other choice. In 2005, to celebrate their wedding, Jordi and Sussi bottled their first wine, “Pardelasses”, and Celler Aixalà i Alcait was officially born. These days, they make around 15,000 bottles of wine per year, a micro-production disproportionate to their exciting range of wines and their importance to the village. The Priorat produces 95% red wines, but Aixalà I Alcait makes a point of producing two white wines and (at least) two different rosés each year, in addition to a range of lively and luscious reds. All speak clearly of the Priorat’s inherent power and depth, as well as the family’s upbeat energy, endearing rapport, and exploratory spirit.