The iconic artistry of Joan Escoda

Practically every natural wine lover has a Celler Escoda story.
They’re just that iconic in the landscape. Mine is actually in Parisian bistro Le Baratin, a place as discerning as it is tiny and delicious. They’re famously sticklers about what wines are opened in their jewel box space. There are no bottle lists, only conversations about wine and a tight BTG selection.
So, you can imagine how curious I was to learn that their selection – in the epicentre of the world's best Chenin Blanc – featured only one Chenin, from Spain, from Celler Escoda-Sanahuja. I knew the wines but didn’t fully grasp the reverence for them globally until that very moment. The wine itself, a macerated and amphora aged Chenin, was luminous and glorious with their food. And, it sparked a serious curiosity to learn more.
With their newest release landing today, it felt like the right time to dive into this icon of the natural wine world...

To fully understand this producer, you need to know Joan Ramon Escoda’s journey outside of Spain. It explains his philosophy in the vineyard and cellar, but also how he confidently makes Chenin and Cab Franc amongst indigenous varietals.

A Catalan native, Joan worked for the local co-op until ‘97 when he and his wife Maria Carmen Sanahuja took over her family vineyards in Prenafeta. The focus was always organics but their real POV didn’t come fully into focus until 2001.

It was a time when France was combusting with natural wine and tiny caves throughout Paris were starting to highlight their work.

Joan came to experience all of this, eventually with legendary Mark Angeli: a man credited with forcing the world to re-think dry Chenin and its place in Anjou. An internship with Angeli ultimately informed the Escoda-Sanahuja we know today.

With a head of steam, Joan started working biodynamically in 2003; by 2005 he had side-stepped sulfur additions in the cellar. Prenafeta's arid, iron-rich land took quickly to this type of farming and became a reference for what could be done in Catalonia.

Outside of his strict no-additions policy, each cuvée is unique in the mixture of maceration, vessels (lots of amphora) and élevage. I.e. no two wines are the same, even within the same cuvée vintage to vintage.

But, the common thread: they are all powerfully flavored renditions of Conca de Barberà, often showcasing the phenolic, impactful profiles of his bush trained vines.

Lastly, it's worth mentioning that Juan is not only responsible for this game-changing property, but has been an incredible influence in the region at large: founding PVN (Spanish Natural Wine Growers), the Restaurant El Tossal Gros and, one of the very first natural wine fairs, H2O Vegetal Catalonian.


All native yeast ferments, with no additions, no controls and bottled unfined and unfiltered.

2022 'Nas del Gegant' Tinto
Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Carignan and Garnacha. Native yeast fermented in stainless steel.

2022 'Les Paradetes' Tinto
Carignan and Garnacha. Fermented in stainless steel and aged for 14 months in neutral oak.

2022 'Coll del Sabater' Tinto
Cabernet Franc. Fermented in stainless steel. Aged for 14 months in neutral oak.

2022 'Mas de Gaio' Blanco
Parelleda, Garnacha Blanca and Macabeo. Aged for 8 months in large amphora and older french oak.