The “je ne sais quoi” of Eccoci, the Catalonian wine of Tiffany designer Elsa Peretti

The “je ne sais quoi” of Eccoci, the Catalonian wine of Tiffany designer Elsa Peretti

Every once in a while you stumble on a wine that has this special “je ne sais quoi” – a pleasant quality that is hard to describe- and more often than not it has a memorable story to match too. A six wine storytelling event on a warm October night in Sant Just Desvern (near Barcelona) led me to my first glass of Eccoci wine and the story of Eccoci-Wine’s owner Elsa Peretti, the iconic jewellery designer for Tiffany & Co.

Short history of Elsa Peretti

Born in Florence in 1940, Elsa flees the wealthy bourgeois life that her father (an Italian oil tycoon) had imagined for her, at the age of 21. In 1966 Elsa arrives in Franco era Barcelona, with a degree in interior design in her suitcase. To earn money she starts modelling, not only for fashion editorials, but also artists like Salvador Dalí.  She frequents the circles of artists such as the sculptor Xavier Corberó, Rosa Regàs and Colita Maspons Oriol. Franco-era Barcelona was gritty, but interesting, “The Marines, the whores, the flowers, the ocean,” she reminisces. Peretti became intimate with la gauche divine, intellectuals opposed to Franco.[1]  In 1968 Elsa Peretti  travels to New York, with a black eye from a former lover, to emerge as one of the “It Girls” of Studio 54 generation.

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A refuge in the small medieval hamlet of Sant Martí Vell

In 1969, her friend Colita Maspons Oriol gives her one of the best pieces of advice a girl can get:” You will never be an independent woman if you do not own a house. ” Cheered on by Colita Elsa decides to buy a refuge for herself in the small medieval hamlet of Sant Martí Vell, in the province of Girona.

Elsa Peretti first lays eyes on the half demolished stone manor house when a friend shows her a photograph in 1968. I must have it, she thought at the time, not troubled by its ruined state.  She scrapes together a couple thousand dollars from her modelling cash and bought two buildings, slowly restoring them throughout the 70s. During these years Sant Martí Vell becomes her temporary escape from New York. In 1974 she starts to design jewellery for Tiffany & C0. Her partnership with Tiffany was so successful that in 2013 Tiffany renewed their contract to sell the exclusive designs of Elsa Peretti for another 20 years. The designer received $ 47 million, on top of the continuous 5% she anyway gets from the sales of her jewellery.

Sant Martí has a rough, rustic beauty

In the course of the 80s Sant Martí Vell grows into her permanent refuge, simultaneously expanding in size. Now half the village is hers. “Here I feel free,” Elsa said in an interview for Vanity Fair, “fashion was my bread and butter, but I didn’t live it. I was never fashion-oriented. I was attracted to Sant Martí because it was contrary to everything in New York and my family. Here there was no sophistication. Today, while it is full of exquisite things, but Sant Martí remains hard-edged. It’s rough beauty.” [1]

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I visited Sant Martí Vell several times, walking through the vineyards not knowing the name of the winery nor the owner. There’s a kind of rugged, monastic quality to the buildings and the land. You can well imagine that in the past, monks, in their habits of wool, worked the vineyards.  Located in the privileged setting of natural park Les Gavarres, on the slopes of an extinct volcano, this unpolluted and unique landscape seems to be perfect for growing wine grapes.

Eccoci Wine has a unique terroir

The area of Eccoci Wine has a unique terroir and Elsa Peretti realised this too. Elsa’s passion to restore life into Sant Martí and to work the land naturally culminated in the decision to plant a vineyard, as a way to fertilise the soil. The vineyards are divided into two parts Ca l’Elsa and Can Nobas. Ca l’Elsa was the first vineyard to be planted in 2004, followed by Can Nobas in 2007. In 2008 the sophisticated facilities of the winery were completed, just in time for the first harvest vinification. Since that time a serious line of fine wines has been launched under the label Eccoci, which in Italian means “Here we are.”

Eccoci’s vineyards stretch out to the rolling hills at an altitude of 100 meters. The vines grow surrounded by forests of oak, pine and cork trees, which keep the vines isolated from other crops. The soil is a combination of volcanic rock with calcareous soils and silicon-alluvial sediments. The Ca l’Elsa plots lie at the foot of the inactive volcano, where the soil is composed of siliceous-limestone and volcanic stones, with very good drainage. The Can Nobas plots are near the“la riera dels Ángels” river where the soil consists of siliceous-limestone with alluvial stones.

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Also favourable is the aspect of the vineyard, taking advantage of the area’s unique climate and sun patterns (2400 hours sun per year) and a sufficient rainfall (865 litres per year). An optimal average temperature (between 16 and 21 ° C) does the rest to ensure the slow ripening of the grapes.

Sustainable farming

Eccoci’s unique terroir makes it possible to work according to its sustainable environmental vision, the vineyards are hand-harvested and farmed sustainably. Its multi-nation team shows firm commitment to work with respect for Mother Nature in combination with modern-day technology and expertise to produce elegant, terroir-driven wines. It shouldn’t therefore come as a surprise, that, because of its viticulture and environmental practices, Eccoci became Spain’s first winery to be ZeroCo2 -Carbon Zero -certified.

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The Eccoci winery has an average production of 100,000 bottles a year and makes four different wines:

White Eccoci is made from a blend of grapes, 75% comes from parcels at Can Torres (50% Viognier, Rousane 25%) located at the foot of the ancient volcano. The remaining 25% are from the Petit Manseng variety planted at Can Nobas.

Pink Eccoci is made exclusively from grapes of the Petit Verdot variety at Can Nobas.

Premium Red Eccoci  is a blend of 60% Petit Verdot , 20% Merlot  10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Marselan (a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache).

Premium Red Eccoci, Eccoci’s flagship wine is a blend of 60% Marselan, 20% Merlot 10% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Petit Verdot, made from vines planted next to the old volcano. Improves with age.

[1] http://www.vanityfair.com/style/2014/08/elsa-peretti-halston-studio-54

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