Gaudí & Modernism Art Inspire the Making of Great Cavas at Castell D’Or

The scenic drive toward Barberà de la Conca on a fine sunny morning had my eyes peeled taking in all the vibrant colours of the picture perfect landscapes I felt like I was on a film set where they could pick up and move this background.  Even more beautiful was as the small town started to appear from a distance the first thing I noticed was the church towers and what looked like an enormous cathedral.

50 Great Cavas Barebera de la ConcaI did not need to be told that the cellar we were visiting was the work of a Gaudi disciple Cèsar Martinell, the modernistic style of the stunning building in front of me was unmistakable.  Designed in the early 20th century the building looks more like a temple or a castle than a wine cellar and takes pride of place in the centre of Barberà de la Conca. The name of this town struck our interest as it stood up high in the “conca” or hollow, it was clear to see why it could have been such an important place, the perfect view over the entire region – Conca Barberà.

50 Great Cavas Barbera de la ConcaJust as intriguing inside as out we walked along the mezzanine path overlooking the big tanks and looked out through the triangular church like windows at a great height, appreciating the enormous size of this building as we learnt about the practical uses of the different levels and such before the times of electronic machinery to assist with the harvest.

Walking down to what is now the underground cellars but originally used as a drainage system for the embedded tiled fermentation tanks was a bit of a squeeze, the very small area with low arched ceilings was not a trip for the claustrophobic type but really interesting to see nonetheless. The cava kept here is the only made and bottled here at the Barberà de la Conca. Inside the warehouse we were also shown a historic tractor from 1954, fully restored to its former glory the number plate showed that it was one of the first few hundred tractors ever to be used in this region, very different to a machine you would see today but certainly had a charm to be admired.

50 Great Cavas Conca de la BarberaIt is from this Catedral del Vi (Wine Cathedral) as it was named by the Catalan writer Àngel Guimerà, that Castell D’Or brings together 9 different wine producers within Catalonia to establish a cooperative, as we saw in the visitor centre displaying not only a great selection of cava and wine from the different brands but local foods also. We took pleasure in a tasting inside the tower part of the building which was inspired by the design of a church bell.

50 Great Cavas Castell D'OR

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Emma Combey

50 Great Cava Blogger Team 2013 Announced!

In search of the 50 Great CvasAs Wine Pleasures embarks on the search for 50 Geat Cavas of 2013 the experience would not be the same without getting a team of influential bloggers and traditional media to write about all things sparkling in the Catalonian wine region! In October this year a small team of wine and travel bloggers are going to do just that on the very first  Cava Blogger Trip

Leading the group will be Wine Pleasures founder Anthony Swift, immersed in the culture of enjoying a Cava in the beautiful region from which it is made, Anthony will surely be sharing his passion and extensive knowledge with the group. Coming along to enjoy and share their experiences will be:

Mary Cressler participant Cava Blogger Trip 13Mary Cressler, a writer, wine educator, Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, a Wine Location Specialist through the Center for Wine Origins, and founder of Vindulge, Wine Education & Consulting. A frequent tasting panelist and judge for wine competitions, Mary also speaks at conferences and events on various aspects of wine. She is also a freelance wine, food, and travel writer having written for Palate Press, The Gorge Guide, Multiplicity Magazine, VineSleuth and others in addition to her blog Mary’s passion for wine and education evolved into Vindulge after working for several years as a general manager for an Oregon winery. Mary’s biggest passion in wine is sparkling wine, and has led several classes on sparkling wine, written articles for Palate Press on sparkling wine.

Linda Kissam Cava Blogger Trip 13Linda Kissam, who is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California. Through her monthly radio guest spots, food & wine pairing articles, recipe & destination pairings, wine reviews, and story placements in seven publications, she reaches millions of readers/listeners. Linda specializes in easy, breezy destination stories focusing on what makes each destination special through it culinary and wine, beer and spirits scene and the soft adventures that surround those pursuits. Linda also organizes and mentors three “Wine Council” groups and is the 1st Vice President of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association.

Tom Plant participant Cava Blogger Trip 13Tom Plant, Tom created WINEormous in 2009 and has since traveled extensively, not only around North America, but to Europe as well, publishing stories on his blog. He is a member of both the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association and North American Travel Journalists Association. He covers all aspects of travel and food with a particular focus on wine.Earlier this year he attended the International Wine Tourism Conference in Zagreb as part of the Blogger Media team which took him to discover the Friuli wine region of Italy.

Benjamin Spencer participant Cava Blogger Trip 13Benjamin Spencer, founder of and lead instructor for The Taormina Wine School. Ben is a winemaker, sommelier, journalist, and a communications specialist and has worked for some of California’s artisan and internationally traded brands. In addition to this, Ben has studied Viticulture, Enology, and Wine Theory with the University of California at Davis, the Court of Master Sommeliers, and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). After working as a sommelier at Aubergine, in 2008, Ben launched Leojami Wines in California. In 2011, Ben founded and to catalog, publish, and promote his wine studies and consulting services.

Barbara Keck Cava Blogger Trip 13Barbara Keck who writes a weekly column covering an affluent population in the resort area surrounding Lake Tahoe, California, and beyond. Selling her marketing consultancy firm in 2006 she has been writing about wine ever since. A Harvard business graduate, Barbara should find aspects of her business/ marketing expertise an interesting spin on her wine blogging.Barbara writes at least two columns a year on bubblies. She almost always mentions a Cava, although she confesses she has not yet visited Cava country yet… she is looking forward to learning more about Cava on Media trip. Has previously attended similar media trips to Argentina and Chile.

Nikki participant Cava Blogger Trip 13And last but not least Nikki Lincoln, as a wine lover and blogger Nikki recently started writing for Simple Hedonisms. The Simple Hedonisms blog shares her experience wine tasting in South Africa has reached up to 9000 unique readers a month at its peak. In the 5 months between now and the trip she plans on building my presence on the blog and continuing to draw a strong readership. Reasonably new to the field, she looks forward to continuing to explore a world of wine. A great fan of bubbles she is excited to learn about the Cava region of Spain mixing a passion for wine with a love of travel.

In search of 50 Great Cavas 2013Together a line up of bloggers who will present a telling, creative and most of all entertaining account of their experiences whilst travelling the very destination which the many of these great cavas call home. And of course make sure you get your free copy of  the 50 Great Cavas ebook   whether you are looking for cava styles to explore, outstanding wineries to visit or professional tasting and reviews it is certainly a must read.

In no particular order, here are some of the 50 Great Cava producers expected to appear in the 2013 edition (Release date 1 August 2013). Click on the links to view a few photos of each producer:

Gramona – Agustí Torelló Celler VellFinca ValldoseraPere VenturaBohigasMata i ColomaVallformosaMascaróMas TinellCanals i MunnéCastell D’OrCanals Canals
Pappet del Mas – Parató LLopart – Murviedro – Via de la Plata – RovellatsParxet
Capitá Vidal – Mas Codina – Conde de Valicourt

Wineries without hyperlinks means we have not published photos yet. Keep checking our Facebook page for updates.

Emma Combey

50 Great Cavas 2013 – a Wine Pleasures Visit to Pere Ventura

Pere VENTURA - 50 Great Cavas 2013As they say first impressions can only be made once well the creative sophistication of Pere Ventura could be felt immediately as I walked over the immaculate grass path and in through the large archway door. A reasonably young winery for the region established in 1992 the modern building still oozes character from the mosaic art work on the floors to the fine velvet hanging drapes I knew I was in for an experience of style.

Pere VENTURA - 50 Great Cavas 2013Entering the cellar was much the same as it was very neat and a rather open space but as we head down to the first floor I noticed the collection of dusty webs on the staircase and the beautiful round stoned ceiling built true to typical Catalan building. On each wall were neatly stacked bottles of cava many of which were Magnum bottles, making them that little more eye catching and fine looking as the torch was shone through their sparkling contents. While they are not producing vast amounts of Magnums there is instead a personal touch in the cellars which each section named after a city to which they export.London and Zurich being just two.

Pere VENTURA - 50 Great Cavas 2013A surprising find on the tour of the underground cellar appeared as we were invited in to the “chapel”. This is a small room of which the walls are made up of 120 triangular holes giving the feel of an old church, adding to the effect were the large candles perched in between for lighting and the beautiful wooden bench inside used for special occasions. With a bottle collected from each of the first harvests this was referred to as a library of Cavas and funny enough I couldn’t think of a much better place or topic to study.

50 Great Cavas Pere VenturaWe were shown one particular Cava with a difference, very well linked to the elegant shape of the bottle I discovered that this special design was created to reflect the dress of a woman. Usually the eldest son would inherit the family business however in a unique situation where there is only a daughter it is of course her who stands to take over, the delightful La Pubilla Cava represents this.

50 Grat Cavas 2013 Pere VenturaAs we finished our tour in the tasting room, I noticed it was quite the showroom to itself. Each of the cava´s showcased around the room in unique style, I was happy to explore the displays as much as I was eager to taste.

We tasted two Cavas: Pere Ventura Tresor Brut Reserva (Xarel.lo, Macabeo. Parellada) –  & Pere Ventura Cupatge D’honor Vintage 2009 (Xarel.lo & Chardonnay).

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Emma Combey

Hundreds of Years of Family Tradition Brings us to a glass of Bohigas Cava

50 Great Cavas BohigasAs we pulled up in front of Mas Macia it looked like a quaint little village within itself, on the beautiful grounds covered by the vineyards there is the old 13th Century Catalan house, a restaurant, a church and of course the winery and its cellars. The smell of the fresh-cut grass was refreshing as we stood in the sunlight looking over the 35 hectares of vineyards in prime position, close to the cellars. The charm of this place was in the small details, each the old doors painted bright green a stunning contrast from the golden building.

50 Great Cavas BohigasAs the roller door slowly raised and revealed the old cellar it was like a step into the medieval underground, the tunnels were lit only slightly and we could see through the shadows the hand-built stone walls. Each of the thousands of bottles lying peacefully yet I felt as though they were living characters, the fermenting cultures inside doing their work to create these luscious cavas.

Like walking onto the stage of a theatre set centuries ago I learnt about a life lived by the ancestors of this family, all of our modern commodities were here just in a very different form. The rooms were lined by the dowry cases of the families’ young girls and the walls covered by artifacts which are a mystery to this day.

50 Great Cavas BohigasLooking at an old medical kit from a doctor in the family we had to joke as whether they killed more people than they helped with this “high frequency” mess of cords in a case, oh how grateful this made me for today´s medical advancements.  And in case we thought there had been no progress in gender equality we next entered the separate rooms of the women and men to which they could sit and socialize. Of course the latter was rugged and masculine framed by hunting trophies and guns, with the lady’s room displaying the intricate hours of work they would put in to hand making lace.

I heard the story of a certificate framed between two portraits on one of the bedroom walls, these were cousins who were awarded special permission to marry just because their families owned the most favorable fields. I was also shown the two seats which sat either side of the front window where mother and daughter would sit so the conversation of the potential husband could be heard by both. In fact the inside of this house had endless remarkable stories I could have listened to for hours.

50 Great Cavas BohigasFinally I visited the church which bears the scars of the civil war but has certainly retained its beauty. The painting by a famous Catalan artist of his time covering the back wall could be saved as it was on canvas, taken down and hidden from all the destruction. An engraving in the marble of the chairs could still be read “Viva La Republica”. It is said that during this time of war when Wine Pleasures visits 50 Great Cava producer Bohigasthe owners were killed, a witness saw the shooting of the couple. It was only because of his recount of events that the property was inherited by the husband’s family because he told how the wife was the first one shot.

To end my visit we enjoyed the perfect setting for a tasting of the Bohigas Cava Brut 2010 (made from the grape varieties: Macabeo, Xarel.lo & Parellada) in front of the Masia, a true taste of hundreds of years of family tradition.

Get your free copy of the 50 Great Cava eBook>>

50 Great Cava wine tastng tour>>

Emma Combey

Getting Seduced by 50 Great Cava 2012 Producer, Vallformosa

Wine Pleasures visits 50 Great Cava VallformosaTraveling down the winding roads in the Penedes, it is hard not to spot Vallformosa from a distance. With 397 hectares of vineyards, Vallformosa is the 4th biggest winery in terms of production. But, this winery offers much beyond its impressive structure and large production numbers. My tour guide for the day, Àngels Olivella, greeted me with a huge smile and a glass of grape juice. The juice was beyond refreshing and the taste gave me a wonderful preview to the grapes produced from the vast Vallformosa vineyards.

After we finished our respective glasses of juice, we began the tour by entering an old wine cellar. The cellar has been preserved since its founding date in 1865 by the …

50 Great Cavas 2012 – a Wine Pleasures Visit to Canals Canals

50 Great Cavas 2012 – a Wine Pleasures Visit to The small town of Castellvi de Rosanes is home to Canals Canals, a winery focusing on the production of cavas. My tour of Canals Canals started in the tasting room. And no, I didn’t skip all the history and production processes and go straight to sampling wine, this room just happened to also house a huge collection of 19th century handmade, antique glasses from all around the world. It was an impressive collection to say the least.  …

50 Great Cavas 2012 – a Wine Pleasures Visit to Vallformosa

Vallformosa 50 Great Cavas 2012 - a Wine Pleasures visitVallformosa has maintained the passion of its forefathers by continuing to perfect the wine making process since its founding in 1865 by the Domenech family. The winery, first established in Vilobí del Penedès, has only seen family owners throughout five different generations. Each generation has added to the progression and success of the company, from the first and second generation farmers to the third generation that introduced bottling to the fourth generation that developed the cava method after the Civil War. In 1940, the family introduced cava into their…

50 Great Cavas 2012 – a Wine Pleasures visit to Finca Valldoserra

Wine Plesures visits Finca Valldosera 50 Great CavasAfter a long work week, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Friday morning than at a winery. And, Finca Valldosera certainly did not disappoint.

The adventure began with a drive down a long, gravel road leading to the main property. On the road, I began to gets hints of the expansive vineyards I was about to witness, as grape plants began to pop up along the path.

I met with Jordi, my guide for the day and the head winemaker at the vineyard, outside of a beautiful 15th century house on the property. We immediately hopped in a different car to make the trek to the top of the mountain and get a view of the vast land between the Penedès and the Mediterranean that makes up Finca Valldosera….

50 Great Cavas 2012 – a Wine Pleasures visit to Albet i Noya

Wine Pleasures visits Albet i Noya 50 Great Cavas 2012Today the Penedes region is Spain’s proud leader in the production of organic wine, but a bit more than thirty years ago words like “ecological” or “organic” had not much to do with Spanish wine. That was before the Albet i Noya family got into the business. In the late 70s, the long-haired Josep Maria, the eldest of two brothers and a convinced vegetarian, decided that it was time for change – time to do things in a more natural way.  After several experiments, the young winery produced its first organic wine in 1978, which was exported to Denmark. And this is how the story of Albet i Noya – the pioneers of the organic winemaking – begins….