frequently asked questions FAQ
here you will find some answers
about the vineyards at higher altitudes
1how does altitude affect wine?
First, the temperature in the Prades Mountains falls by an average of 0.65°C for each increase of 100 m in altitude, so vines at higher elevations live in a cooler environment. Thus, for example, the temperature in a CARA NORD vineyard located at 800 metre in altitude could be 5.2°C lower than a similar vineyard located at sea level. At the same time, each 150m increase in altitude has the equivalent effect to moving the vineyard one degree latitude to the north. The vineyards at higher elevations also have greater exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, as the mountain environment is cleaner and lighter than in the valleys. UV rays increase by 4% for each 250m increase in altitude, causing an increase in the thickness of the grape skins, stimulating phenolic synthesis, enhancing the sweetness of the tannins, bringing intense, fresh flavours without a hint of maturity. The lower temperatures slow maturation and accumulation of sugars, increase acidity and the freshness of the grapes, and help in the construction of aromas and flavours. At higher altitudes there tends to be a large difference between day and night temperatures. This temperature differential is largely responsible for the perfect balance of maturity and freshness found in the grapes. The CARA NORD vines grow on soil that is very varied in type. This diversity offers a wide variety of minerals and nutrients to the grapes and results in the creation of wines with a mineral character. As a result of the altitude the wine has more colour, more minerality, greater acidity and at the same time are softer and deeper, with a wide range of aromas that are both fresh and unusual.
2what are the analytical characteristics found in the CARA NORD wines, created from vines at higher altitudes?
At higher altitudes anthocyanins rise dramatically. Total tannins are higher with altitude, while the bitter tannins go down. Higher elevations result in a greater retention of malic acid. This can reach 2-3g/l depending on the elevation. The pH of these wines tends to be lower, a factor that helps the stability and longevity of the wines and allows the enologists to work with minimum amounts of sulphites. The skin of the grapes becomes thicker with altitude, up to five times thicker at 1.500 metres above sea level than those grown at 600 metres. The intensity of the sunlight is higher at altitude, resulting in an increase in photosynthesis and the production of Resveratrol.
3what are the requirements for altitude viticulture?
Developing a mountain vineyard presents many challenges: difficult access to the vineyard, soil erosion, low rainfall, poor quality soil with low levels of nutrient availability, considerations regarding the impact on the environment, rootstock selection, varietal options, choosing appropriate methods for vegetation cover, and so forth. Land management techniques and their impact on hydration status of the vines, conservation of soil fertility and controlling soil erosion are the central issues for mountain viticulture.
4how does elevation affect the skin of the grape?
High altitude sites have lower average temperatures, heat accumulation is lower and the fluctuation in day and night temperatures is more pronounced. The main work of the grape skin is to protect the seeds inside the grape. The skin thickens as a defense mechanism against both solar radiation, which itself increases with altitude, and variations in temperature. Thicker skins have more tannin, more colour and a skin/juice ratio that is very high. This results in far lower levels of production but more intense flavours and colour.
5if the high elevation vineyards are often more difficult to work why did CARA NORD choose this area?
It is true that vines at high altitude have poor and shallow soils, low humidity, large daily swings in temperature, strong winds and high risk of frost damage, and are vines with low yield per hectare and high maintainance cost. However, at CARA NORD we chose these positions of increasing difficulty due to the unique and complex character of the wines these vineyards create. It is a fact that the vineyards at high elevations produce wines of higher quality when compared with those produced by vines at lower altitudes. As there are few clouds, the daily levels of direct sunlight are very high. This increases the efficiency of the vine metabolism, leading to maximum photosynthesis and maturity. Nights at the highest levels are quite cold, allowing the vines to keep their acidity whilst still creating the sugars needed for maturation. A steady breeze keeps the grapes clean and healthy. Rocky soils, which are found on the tops of the hills and slopes, help to drain excess moisture, thereby forcing the vines to dig deep and work hard to find the nutrients and minerals they need. This naturally limits the performance of the vines and increases the complexity of the fruit.
6what health benefits have the wines created from vines planted at high altitude?
The grapes from mountain vineyards have greater exposure to ultraviolet light and therefore have higher levels of Resveratrol and Procyanidin. These are important antioxidants found in grape skins that have antiviral, neuroprotective, anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects./br> CARA NORD viticulture creates grapes with a high content of polyphenols that help in controlling heart disease.
7how is the quality of the wine affected by the vines that grow at higher elevations?
The mountain slopes with poor slate soils that are full of rocks have a significant impact on the vineyards, producing fruit with higher minerality and natural acidity when compared with grapes from vines at lower altitudes. High acidity in the fruit creates wine with a low pH, resulting in the production of high quality wine, with intense concentration, body and flavour. These wines are particularly suitable for long aging. The vines planted at higher altitudes are exposed to more sun, and therefore develop thicker skins on the grapes. This produces higher levels of anthocyanin and better tannin levels, resulting in a wine with more colour, softness and less astringency.
8what is the purpose of the vegetation cover?
To promote biodiversity and make the soil live. Native plants are allowed to grow among the vines and thereby produce organic matter, hummus, nitrogen and other nutrients, improving the soil structure and root growth, all in symbiosis with soil bacteria, fungi and earthworms. The cover crops provide habitats for beneficial insects (ladybirds, spiders) and birds, which feed on vineyard pests, thus creating a perfect balance.
9 what do you mean when you say that the grapes are grown responsibly?
Farmers are landscape gardeners, caretakers of the land, air, water, and all associated living organisms. Being a farmer means taking responsibility for watching over the environment, limiting the use of chemicals, renovation of aquifers, monitoring and preventing soil erosion, managing the ecological footprint. Responsible agriculture requires genuine participation in all the natural ecosystems of the estate, always bearing in mind all possible interactions.
10what about the phases of the moon? Do they affect the wine?
The energies of the moon, sun and planets affect all living things on Earth in regular rhythms, and specifically affect the growth cycles of plants. By understanding the subtle effects of these rhythms, we can change our agricultural practices to take full advantage of these forces and improve agricultural production. For example, root growth increases with the full moon, so it is a good time for planting and transplanting plants that require deep roots. To learn more, check out: www.biodynamics.com.
11how many kilos of grapes are produced from one hectare of CARA NORD? How much wine can be created from one single vine?
We have a very low average yield of about 2,500 kg per hectare, and it takes all the grapes from approximately two vines to create a single bottle of wine.
12 what does "dry farming of the vine" mean?
Dry vineyards are not irrigated, so receive only natural rainfall and moisture. The soil acts as a sponge during the rain of the winter and early spring, retaining water in order to release it slowly in the vineyards during the long, hot and dry summer. Rainfed culture encourages the plant reticular systems to go deep into the soil, and results in the creation of healthy and vigorous vines with excellent flavour and mineral character and with great concentration.
the creation of the wine
1 what kind of wood is used for aging the wine?
We use only selected French oak wood. This adds complexity, elegance and depth to the wine.
2 where does CARA NORD vinify its wines?
We work in the small winery located just inside the walls of the Monastery of Poblet (UNESCO World Heritage site). It is winery that is well equipped for producing quality wines, as well as being a place of great historical and cultural interest.
1how does climate vary with the altitude of the mountains?
On the north face of the Sierra de Prades the temperature falls on average 0.65°C for each increase of 100 m in altitude. The air is cleaner and lighter than in the surrounding valleys and the ultra violet rays increase by 4% for each increase in 250 m above sea level. Also, each 150 m increase in altitude has the equivalent effect to moving the vineyard one degree latitude to the north.
2why is the climate of the Pradesmountains so suitable for growing grapes?
Located on the north face of the mountains at an altitude of up to 800 metres, and under the influence of the Marinada (east) wind, the estate offers unusually cool weather for the environment. This is an area of transition between the Mediterranean and Continental climates. Winters are cold and summers are not too hot, with a significant temperature differences between the day and the night. Temperatures can reach 35ºC in summer and -10°C in February, with an average annual temperature of approximately 13ºC. The relative persistence of the wind during the summer acts as a natural antiseptic for the vines, and also to cool the atmosphere and lower the summer temperatures. The annual rainfall is about 450- 550 mm and the estate experiences approximately 2,700 hours of sunshine annually. This climate causes a slow ripening of the grapes due to the altitude and the freshness of the atmosphere. At harvest the grapes are healthy due to the steady winds and cold nights, both of which help to preserve the acidity in grapes, and thereby to make a very balanced wine.
information and visits
1where is CARA NORD?
The vineyards and vinification for CARA NORD are situated in the terme of Poblet Vimbodí. The winery is in the Poblet Monastery. The office and warehouse is about 10 minutes from the Monastery in the village of El Vilosell. Our website has a printable detailed map.
2what do mountains, hiking, monasteries, vineyards, and wine at altitude have to do with CARA NORD?
The CARA NORD environment is a unique way to discover history, walk in the Prades Mountains and get to know the unique and singular wines produced by high altitudes. It offers a route that will help to understand the viticulture of the area, its climate, the topography of the land and the adventure of growing vines in remote wine regions. Visiting monasteries, medieval villages and wineries with Art Nouveau architecture can be very interesting for tourists.
3what does the term "Mountains of the Monks" mean?
The Prades Mountains, where our vineyards are cultivated, were for many centuries owned by the monks of the Monastery of Poblet and the monks of Scala Dei, in the Priorat. The monks grew grapes and ran farms in some parts of the mountains, leaving their mark on both the Poblet and the Priorat areas, which still bears their name.
4what is the historical significance of the Monastery of Poblet?
The Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Poblet is a monastery of the Cistercian order, founded in 1150. It is located at the foot of the Prades Mountains, in the region of the Conca de Barbera. Poblet is an impressive construction and is counted amongst the most important monasteries in Europe, being, in fact, the largest inhabited monastic community in Europe. Since the Middle Ages Poblet has been an important symbolic reference point for the countries of the former Crown of Aragon. From the reign of Peter the Ceremonius and throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries it was the royal pantheon of the sovereigns, but it also housed the tombs of other members of the royal family and nobility of different lineage. In 1921, after a visit from King Alfonso XIII, Poblet was declared a National Monument by the Spanish Government. In 1991 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
5what are the geological peculiarities of the area?
Located to the north of Tarragona, the winemaking area of the Conca de Barbera, and in particular, the slopes of the Prades Mountains offer a rugged landscape, surrounded by mountains, rocky outcrops, cliffs, steep mountains and oak forests. It is an area classified nationally as being of Geological Interest and has ancient lead and silver mines that were exploited as far back as Roman times. These are unusual geological conditions for the cultivation of the vines. The slate soil is poor and very rocky, with medium and large shale, and with slopes that ensure good drainage. Land with gravel, clay and sand has a very low organic content, so overall this is an area ideal place for the creation of unique wines of excellent quality.
6 if I make a visit to the area, what else might I discover?
The Monastery of Poblet, its Hotel-guesthouse and restaurant are always interesting. Follow the route of the Cistercian monasteries and see the Monastery of Santes Creus and Vallbona. Visit the Riudabella and Milmanda Castles. Enjoy a walk through the Art Nouveau wineries, known as the Route of the Cathedrals of Wine. Be seduced by the medieval streets of Montblanc or excursions to Natural Park of the Poblet, which has the largest oak forest in Spain. These are some of the activities you can do in the area after visiting CARA NORD.
7 i would like to visit the Conca de Barbera and would love to go to CARA NORD. How can I schedule a tour and a tasting?
We would love to receive your visit. Please call us to make an appointment. Reservations can be arranged by calling our office, phone: +34 973 176 029, or send us an email at email@example.com
1how long has CARA NORD been making wine?
The CARA NORD winery is a very young project, started in 2012. Our first bottles of red and white wines entered the market in the summer of 2013.
2where the name “CARA NORD” does comes from?
Our winery was created to vinify the grapes from vines planted at altitude on the northern face (Cara Nord) of the Prades Mountains, in the municipality of Poblet, the Natural Park of the Sierra de Prades and Natural Park of the Poblet Forest. The Mountains of Prades is a mountain range that already has emblematic denominations of origins such as the Priorat and Montsant, Costers del Segre and, on its north side, the CARA NORD estate within the DO Conca de Barbera.