Laureano Serres is a legend of the Catalan wine scene. His home and cellar are based in El Pinell de Brai, a hot, dusty little town that looks like something out of a Spaghetti Western and serves as the unlikely ground zero of the region’s lively wine scene.
A pioneer who has been influential in inspiring others in the area to return to their winemaking roots, Laureano was also there the night the Brutal Wine Corporation was founded and is an organiser of one of Europe’s most talked about wine fairs, H20 Vegetal. His spirit, sense of community and love of life are both legendary and infectious and like so many before us, when we visited for the first time we were welcomed with open arms.
Laureano was working as a computer programmer in Madrid when he decided a change of scenery was necessary and returned to his hometown to head the local winemakers cooperative. A couple of years later he set off on his own, bottling wine under the Mendall label from the 1999 harvest. He has worked with organic fruit from the very beginning and since 2002, after forgetting to add any sulphur to the wines and liking the result, he has never looked back.
He now farms six hectares of vineyards spread over parcels in El Pinell at around 170 metres of altitude and higher up in the Terra Alta, where they reach some 500 metres above sea level. There is little topsoil, meaning the vines dig right into the limestone bedrock below. The terroir lends the wines a freshness and complexity that is not always common in this part of the world.
Wines are made in all manner of vessels in his small cellar and while limited space dictates that the majority of wines are bottled before the following harvest, Laureano practices a unique kind of wine making which combines creativity and restraint to great effect. They are wines which are truly one-of-a-kind, vivid expressions of man, grape and place.