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.
Along the ride, I learned more about the vineyard and the land that it grows on. The land is familiar to wine production as vineyards have been growing on it since 1980. There are 200 total hectares, 25 of which are devoted to growing grape plants. This statistics surprised me a bit, as I was wondering why you would not want to take full advantage of the land. But, this demonstrated my novice understanding of wine production and the mode of operation at Finca Valldosera. Maintaining the forest increases the sustainability of their vineyard and it also provides equilibrium between the two environments. The forest offers aromas that are absorbed by the grape plants to give them a deeper complexity with scents such as rosemary and fennel. The location of the land is also unique as it offers a special climate from the cool, sea breezes and also protection provided by the mountains.
The top of the mountain was breathtaking, providing 360-views of the surrounding landscapes, including the stunning Garraf Massif mountain range, and nearby towns. Jordi described to me that this area is very special to the Catalonian people and I think I can understand why. From the elevated view, I also spotted the lush green growth of the different vineyards. The placement of the different grape plants is very strategic, as certain types like Xarello and Cabernet need to be at a lower elevation where there is more water in the soil and others like Merlot need to by higher up where the soil is sandier.
Next, we ventured to see a few of the ten different varieties of grapes that grow at Finca Valldosera. We started with the Chardonnay grapes that were still small and green, as the harvest does not start until mid-August. I also saw Tempranillo, Subirat Parent, Macabeo, Syrah, Cabernet, and Pareada grape plants. In order to know the exact time to harvest the different varieties of grapes, Jordi tastes them by chewing the skin and tasting the pulp of the grape. This is one of the biggest determining factors in whether it is going to be a good wine or not. No pressure, right?
Following the production progression, we ventured back to the house and to the attached wine cellar. I walked through an old cellar with big barrels of wine to reach the new, modern cellar where everything happens today. Jordi took me through the steps that the grapes go through depending on their color.
At this point, my taste buds were craving a sample of these grapes I had been learning so much about. And so began the wine tasting portion of the tour. I have to admit that I have never been to a wine tasting. I also have to admit that this wine tasting set the bar very high for all those in my future.
The tasting was set up on the patio outside of the cellar, on a table overlooking the beautiful land and sea. The view was gorgeous, the light breeze was blowing through my hair, and the first bottle of Valldosera Cava Brut Nature was uncorked. It was a magical moment. The first sip expressed an elegant flavor, with hints of balsamic and honey. There was good acidity and freshness in the wine and it maintained the flavor long after I had my first try of the cava. The mix of Xarello, Macabeo, Pareada, Chardonnay, and Subirat Parent grapes was a wonderful combination. Jordi suggested pairing this cava with rice, pasta, fish, or white meat and mentioned that it was a good wine to start with as a cocktail or end with (or, both…why not?!) because it has a good structure and acidity to cleanse the pallet.
Next up was the bottle of Subirat Parent Cava, made solely from this variety of grape. When it was first poured in my glass, there were more bubbles and you could tell the viscosity was higher by how the liquid lingered on the edge of the glass. The gold color of the cava radiated from within the glass and I was anxious to try my first taste. After smelling an overwhelming aroma of flowers and perfume, I began to understand even more what Jordi was talking about regarding the way they surround their vineyards with the forest to increase the aromatic flavors. I tasted hints of apricot, peach, and rose with a bit of an underlying spiciness. With this cava, Jordi suggested pairing it with foie gras or seafood.
Finca Valldosera offers tours made by appointment that last approximately 2-3 hours and include a tasting at the end.
Photos: Toms Šķēle