Sandra Doix Mora

Sandra Doix Mora

Mas Doix (Enóloga/Winemaker)

Watching her parents, who are her role models, “led her to love wine.”

Mas Doix, established in 1998, is a small family-owned and -run winery in Poboleda, a community of some 360. The winery builds on a family winegrowing tradition that goes back to the 1850s, its current vineyards having been planted by the family in 1902.

Our meeting early on a Friday morning was literally a meeting across generations. We not only met with Sandra Doix Mora, the winemaker and her mother, Maite Mora Pamies, the viticulturist, but we also were joined part of the time by Sandra’s paternal grandfather, the former viticulturist for the property and who had taught Maite her exacting craft.

The story of Mas Doix wines begins in 1997. This was the year that Sandra’s paternal grandfather had decided to retire and wanted to rent out the family’s vines. Sandra’s father, who had his own business, suggested that they try to produce a red wine, “but the question came up about who would maintain the vines.” Maite Mora Pamies, Sandra’s mother, responded that she would.

The family was working with bush vines, which not only produce better grapes than other vines grown in the area but also live longer as a result of this form of viticulture. Maite learned, and continues to use, the viticultural techniques of her father-in-law, which require two specific styles of grafting, one after pruning in March or April, and one in June. The grafting involves cutting the old vine off at ground level, slitting the root, and inserting the new vine in the slit. As a result, the graft benefits from the roots of the old vine, roots that may reach some 40’ deep in the slate-based “soil,” a term to be used advisedly in this terrain! The techniques associated with this type of grafting make it a challenge to effect even for experienced viticulturists.

When the family made its decision to produce its own red wine, Sandra was only fourteen years old. Thus, from a young age, she participated in all aspects of the winemaking process with her family, from the vineyards to the cellar. For her, winemaking was also a combination of chemistry and biology, the subjects she most loved.

Sandra attended the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona and completed her degree in oenology in 2009. She then went to Spottswoode Winery in Napa for a four-month internship. She had a second internship in Australia planned, but her parents needed her at home: In 2008, the family had decided to increase the size of its facility to meet the global demand for its wine, sparked by high ratings from Parker, and they needed her help. By 2010, Sandra was the winemaker at Mas Doix.

Sandra sees her work at Mas Doix as “preserving a way of life, a culture, and as a way to elaborate authentic wines that transmit the Priorat terroir.” The entire family is involved in sharing in the multitude of winery and vineyard tasks. Everything in the vineyard is done by hand — “touch is essential,” said Maite and Sandra agreed. Their wines are made with minimal intervention and aged in French oak. Bottling is done without any fining or filtering, and approximately 45,000 bottles are currently produced annually. Sandra’s husband works elsewhere but assists with harvest and other activities, and loves being involved.

The Wines. Mas Doix wines have consistently received national and international acclaim. For example, the 2015 Mas Doix 1902 Centenary Carignan was awarded 96 points by the Wine Advocate and its predecessor, the 2014, a 97+; these wines are produced from the Cariñena (Carignane) vines first planted by the family. Their Salangues and ‘Doix’ Costers de Vinyes Velle are also well reviewed, as is their Les Crestes, a wonderfully fruity and expressive young Priorat wine, which is quite reasonably priced. We brought back a lovely bottle of 2010 Mas Doix ‘Doix’ Costers de Vinyes Velle (95 points Wine Advocate) and look forward to enjoying it in a few years.