Down from great-grandmother Bàrbara Forés.

Sometime in 2001, my friends from Vins Noè, knowing my partiality to good reds, told me to taste a new wine. It came from Terra Alta, a comparatively obscure DO better known until then for strong, partially oxidized whites.

House entrance

The wine, Coma d’en Pou, was outstanding, and the first of a series of bottles from this and other wines made by the Bàrbara Forés winery that I have enjoyed in this last decade.

The winery is in Gandesa, relatively far (two hours drive) from Barcelona. This may explain the fact of having waited for ten years, until spending holidays in the Tarragona parts, to visit them.

My wife and I approached the unprepossessing house in the centre of Gandesa, only the placard on the wall announced we were on the right track. However, after entering, the interior was beautiful and airy, and hid some surprises. Underground, the glazed tiled underground tanks once used for wine production now harbour oak barrels.

Barrels underground

But first to the vineyards. Carme Ferrer, great-granddaughter of Bàrbara Forés (born in 1828), explained en route that Bàrbara’s pharmacist son, Rafael Ferrer, inherited her mother’s love for winemaking. He built the house and winery, and wine production continued with ups and downs until in 1994 Carme and her husband Manuel Sanmartin upgraded the winery installing state-of-the-art technology.

In the meantime we arrived to La Cometa plot, where we could see the Garnatxa blanca vines that were planted there 60 years ago, grown as bushes in the calcareous, sandy soil.

We then moved closer to the Pàndols hills, where the Garnatxa negra and Morenillo vineyards grow in a soil with higher clay content, fenced to avoid attacks of wild goat.

Close to Pàndols hills

And we finished the tour at the magnificent Coma d’en Pou vineyard, in the lower lands at the feet of the Cavalls hills near Corbera d’Ebre (a coma is a shallow depression). Here grow the red varieties mainly (Garnatxa Negra, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot) along with some Garnatxa blanca in a calcareous soil.

Grapes are harvested by hand and placed in small boxes after a first selection. The winery has a number of smallish tanks that enable separate processing for different grape / plot combinations.

The wines are as follows.

Bàrbara Forés blanc is the young white, Garnatxa blanca with 5% Viognier. Shows the typical citric aromas, very fresh.
Garnatxa blanca

El Quintà, a 100% Garnatxa blanca white from old vines, is fermented and kept for six months in French oak. Pale yellow with white fruit aromas, along with vanilla and toast notes. Unctuous and long. One of my favourite oak fermented whites.

El Quintà's Garnatxa blanca vines

Bàrbara Forés rosat, a rosé with body, from Garnatxa negra, Syrah and Carinyena. Raspberry red, with red fruit aromas, and a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Bàrbara Forés negre, the basic red out of Syrah, Garnatxa negra and Carinyena and with fourteen months of Allier oak. Deep cherry red; nose rich with red and black fruit, well structured and long in the mouth.

Tasting room

Coma d’en Pou is the red mentioned at the beginning. Garnatxa negra, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot aged for sixteen months in Allier oak. Cherry red, with lots of red fruit and balsamic reminiscences of the flora around the vineyard. Wood and tobacco as well. Wide and full in the mouth, but still elegant and long.

Coma d'en Pou

El Templari is a red wine that, contrary to normal Catalan practice, it is actually termed as red (vi vermell) and not black (vi negre). Half of it is Garnatxa negra, but the other half is Morenillo, a variety close to extinction. The vines are quite big in all their parts, including the grapes, and perhaps due to that the colour of the wine is a bright cherry red. Cherries also predominate in the nose, along with other red fruits, and the mouth is acid, light and elegant, rounded by sixteen months in oak. The name (The Templar) is a homage to the warrior monks that protected the zone after it was fought back from the Muslims in the Middle Ages.


Bàrbara Forés Dolç Natural is a natural sweet white from overripe Garnatxa blanca. Deep gold, not very sweet and well balanced with acidity, and white fruit aromas. Production limited to ca. 500 half-litre bottles.

Garnataxa blanca for sweet wine at Coma d'en Pou

All together, Carme and Manuel produce some 50’000 bottles each year. Look for them; they are good, personal, with excellent QPR and a great introduction to Terra Alta, a DO that is finding its place in the sun.