Clos Mogador


René Barbier III….. his name alone conjures up images such as visionary, pioneer, crusader, legend. Why? Let’s delve a little deeper to find out what this man is all about and how he came to produce one of the most renowned wines in the world…the distinguished Clos Mogador.

The story of Clos Mogador


René Barbier III was born in 1950 in Tarragona...


René Barbier III….. his name alone conjures up images such as visionary, pioneer, crusader, legend. Why? Let’s delve a little deeper to find out what this man is all about and how he came to produce one of the most renowned wines in the world…the distinguished Clos Mogador.

The story of Clos Mogador


René Barbier III was born in 1950 in Tarragona, Spain to a long line of French wine makers… so you could say winemaking was in his blood from birth. His great aunt, Elisabeth Barbier, is the author of the famous French novel ‘Les gens de Mogador’, after which he named his acclaimed first wine.

As a teenager René went to train as an oenologist in prestigious schools in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Limoux in France. During his training he worked in well known wineries such as Moueix, the producers of Petrus, under the guidance of Jean-Claude Berrout. He then returned to Spain and started his career working as an export manager for the Palacios family from the region Rioja. This event put him in touch with the young Alvaro Palacios (producer of L’Ermita) who would go on to become a lifelong friend and supporter in his future project.

So why is René described by many as a visionary? He has indeed described himself as a typical 70s hippy with his long hair, beard, motorhome and a head full of ideologies and a strong belief. Each weekend he set off on hikes with his wife and young family in tow to explore the local area. He was fascinated with the unknown and abandoned province of Priorat and became convinced of its potential as a promising wine region. In the 70s Priorat was neglected and was only known for selling wholesale wine. The terrain was mountainous and abrupt with soil rich in slate. Growing vines there was hard, demanding and costly.

Clos Mogador as a pioneer in winemaking


But René was a pioneer and he was not put off by the obvious challenges of wine growing in Priorat so he purchased his first plot of land there in 1979 and worked with the existing vines on the land in addition to new vines that he planted. Despite the harsh environment for growing wine, René had one sole objective - to make a wine as good or better than burgundies!!

So why has he also been described as a crusader? Because he explained his project to those closest to him and managed to convince Carlos Pastrana, Alvaro Palacios, José Luis Perez and Daphne Glorian to follow suit and purchase small plots of land to plant vineyards in close by locations. They were called the “Gratallops Group” as they joined forces on building a communal wine cellar just outside the village of Grattalops.

For 10 years René worked days, nights, weekends and holidays. On his plot of land, he built terraces, he tended the existing vines, planted new vines and rebuilt the family home from the ruins. Even in the 80s he was convinced on the benefits of biodiversity and sustainability and was passionate about the idea of becoming self sufficient using all the resources around him. He installed solar panels in his family home and he cared for the vines which were interspersed by olive and almond trees, wild peaches, cherries and plums. His approach to the land is a very natural one, finding a balance between the wild and cultivated terrain and using biodynamic methods. Meticulous care is taken over every aspect of the vinification and ageing process. He applied winemaking techniques from his Bordeaux teachings. He opted for native grape varieties (Grenache and Carignan) but also planted more international varieties such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

And despite all the grand words used to define him, he remains humble and claims this period was a long path of observation and learning for him. But he remained convinced that great winemaking starts first in the vineyard and that the best wine is one with a story to tell.

The success story of Clos Mogador


In 1989 they were ready for the first harvest, but they had all sunk everything they had into this venture and had now run out of money. No banks were willing to help them either, as they saw no future in winemaking in Priorat. However, the Gratallops Group rallied together once again: Daphne Glorian sold her car and Alvaro Palacios even sold his precious motorbike in order to collect enough funds to continue ….. 1989 was their first vintage, 5 labels, 5 domains but one unique wine with the denomination “Clos”. The legendary Clos Mogador was born.

Nonetheless, the sale of this first vintage was more difficult than expected. Given the time, energy, hard work and high cost of making of this wine each bottle had to be sold at a certain price in order for it to be profitable. The asking price at the time was bold and ambitious as they were trying to sell one of the most expensive wines in Spain by unknown producers from an unknown spanish region.

In 1991 René met Angelo Giorgio Loparco a wine merchant from Switzerland and convinced him to buy 80% of his production at that time. This enabled him to proceed with the bottling of the second vintage.
Then in 1993 one of the first journalists to visit the Priorat came from Switzerland. Since then, the relationship between Priorat and Switzerland has continuously grown. René with his Clos Mogador went on to garner impressive scores from wine critics and Robert Parker was one of the first international critics to praise the wine – Clos Mogador has since then been awarded 98 points on several occasions and Espectacle has obtained 99 points. René has also been awarded the Order of Agricultural Merit by the Spanish government.

Currently, Clos Mogador is one of the most exciting and prestigious wines in Spain and René Barbier has managed to build one of the most well-known brands in all of Priorat even though he never set out to make a reputation for himself. He had a vision, but he also took a gamble and with hard work, dedication and passion it paid off and he has been defined by many as a living legend and the spiritual father of Priorat.
Today, his sons are continuing his legacy and taking it even further. René Junior is a great winemaker in his own right and Christian oversees all the vineyards for the family and is leading the path of biodynamic agriculture.

The family now produce 5 wines: Clos Mogador, Manyetes, Nelin, Espectacle and ComTu.

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