Wine Pleasures B2B Workshop in Spain mostrará la excelencia de los vinos boutique internacionalmente

La veintena edición de este innovador evento profesional, impulsado por Wine Pleasures, se celebrará en el Double Tree by Hilton Barcelona Golf Hotel, Resort y Spa del 2 al 4 de marzo de 2020. Wine Pleasures B2B Workshop es la mayor plataforma B2B para dar a conocer internacionalmente la excepcional oferta de vinos “boutique” de España.

A partir de un concepto y un formato altamente personalizado Wine Pleasures B2B, permitirá potenciar las oportunidades de negocio con compradores de vino extranjeros y maximizar el retorno de las bodegas participantes. El B2B prevé conseguir unos 40 importadores internacionales de alto nivel procedentes de unos 20 países considerados importantes para las bodegas, entre los que destacan Alemania, Holanda,  Irlanda, Kahakstan, Estados Unidos, Canadá, Brasil, Malasia, China, Hong Kong y Vietnam. Cada importador realizará una agenda de 20 reuniones durante el Workshop.

El evento ya cuenta con la participación de bodegas de las Designaciones de Origen: Alicante, Conca de Barberà, Empordà, Cava, Pla i Llevant, Montsant, Penedès, Priorat, Rioja y Terra Alta y con la participación de bodegas portuguesas.

En total, el evento estima la celebración de unas 800 reuniones B2B durante su celebración.

Más información e inscripción>>

Top 50 Sparkling Wines for 2020

The demand for sparkling wines continues unabated and with only four wine competitions completely focussed on fizz, it can be difficult for the sparkling wine lover to make the right choice when it comes to effervescence.

From 162 Sparkling wines entered in to the annual completion 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World organised by Wine Pleasures, our judges tasted through premium bubblies from around the Old and New World to bring you the best 50 available for 2020. Anthony Swift, Competition Director looks at the results.

Once again, the competition to find the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World has popped a breathtaking blend of award – winning sparkling wines from around the world. Of the 162 sparkling wines entered from diverse terroirs and countries the top 50 are dominated once again by bubbles from Italy, Portugal & Spain.  Diverse too were the grape varieties used to make top quality sparkling wines such as Alvarinho and Touriga Nacional from Portugal, Glera, Trebbiano & Sangiovese from Italy, Macabeo, Perellada & Xarel.lo from Spain as well as the classic Champagne varieties based on Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir made in Australia, Austria, Slovenia and the UK.

In the case of sparkling wines made using the traditional method these were classified and tasted according to dosage and ageing time on the lees. In many cases there was significant ageing on the lees giving wines great character and complexity. Gold medals and classified as Highly Recommended each with 96 points in no particular order  are Cuvèe D’Arce by Azienda Vitivinicola Righetti (Valpolicella, Verona, Italy), Zlata Radgonska Penina Selection Rosé by Radgonske gorice (Podravje, Štajerska, Slovenia) Brut Rosé Metodo Classico by Baracchi (Cortona, Italy)  Valados de Melgaço by Valados de Melgaço (Vinhos Verdes – Monção e Melgaço, Portugal) and Casa Ermelinda Freitas – Espumante Branco Bruto Reserva by Casa Ermelinda Freitas (Palmela, Portugal).

Sparkling wines made using the Charmat method were classified and tasted according to dosage. Most demonstrated a combination of great finesse with a fine mousse and crisp acidity. Competition winner with 96 points is Cuvée Rosé Spumante Brut by Societa Agricola Montalbera (Piedmont, Italy). Eight gold medals awarded for this method of production and classified as Highly Recommended each with 95 points are: Eight Carat Pinot Noir by Geoff Johnston Wines T/as Pirramimma (McLaren Vale, Australia) , Arnea Soave Spumante Brut by Casa Vinicola Sartori (Veneto, Italy), Shaw Vineyard Estate Sparkling Cuvee by Shaw Vineyard Estate (Canberra, Australia), Copaboca Proveco by Bodegas Copaboca (Rueda, Spain), Bacio della Luna Prosecco Superiore DOCG Millesimato Brut Nature by Bacio della Luna (Veneto, Italy), Astoria “Arzana” Valdobbiadene DOCG Superiore di Cartizze Dry by A. C. SRL (Veneto, Italy), Cuvée Blanche Spumante Extra Dry by Societa Agricola Montalbera (Piedmont, Italy)

Once again, this year saw just 2 Frizzantes entered with Bonarda Cresta del Ghiffi by Fratelli Agnes (Lombardia, Italy) gaining a silver medal and a place amongst the 50 Greats.

Quality was high. Traditional method vintage production dominated the competition with some nice prices, most ranging from €5 to €20 giving wine lovers plenty of affordable options to whet their appetite. For those looking to splurge on long – aged sparkling wines should consider getting their hands on Gold medal winners from Maison Wessman (Wessman One – Champagne, France (30 months) at €80 a bottle or Rovellats (Rovellats Gran Reserva Brut Nature – Cava, Spain (60 months) – a snip at just €17.06

Charmat method production wines range from €5 to €18.

Bubble lovers will more than likely find it a tough task to find the sparkling wines amongst the 50 Greats published here in their preferred wine retailer as most wines are “boutique” and therefore not mass produced. Best option would be to look online to see if the producers sell direct to the wine lover or if there are any online retailers selling the product.

We hope the results of the competition will encourage both the trade and the wine lover to find, try and enjoy the most exceptional sparkling wines at Christmas and during 2020.

To view the top 50 Sparkling Wines to try in 2020 click on the banner below:

 

 

Los 50 Mejores Cavas para 2020

Bodegues Sumarroca y Agrícola Casa Sala, los Cavas mejor valorados en la única competición anual para el Cava organizada por Wine Pleasures. 

Se ha celebrado la dècima edición anual de la compètición 50 Great Cavas, un acontecimiento  que reúne los mejores Cavas de la DO Cava.

La prestigiosa y única competición para los vinos espumosos con DO Cava, liderada por Anthony Swift, y apoyada por especialistas del mundo del vino enólogo y sommelier Juan Manuel Gonzalvo, periodista Santiago Fernandez, sommelier Felipe Urbano Arjona y en ocasiones anteriors el Master of Wine  Norrel Robertson, otorgó los premios a los mejores Cavas con 95 y 96 puntos a:

Adernats (Nulles, Tarragona), Vía de la Plata (Extremadura), Sumarroca (Penedès), UVESTE (Requena, Valencia), Rovellats (Penedès), Roger Goulart (Penedès), Agrícola Casa Sala (Penedès) con Can Sala Cava de Paraje y Clos Montblanc (Concà de Barberà) con Clos Montblanc Brut Premium

Todo los resultados de la competición 50 Great Cavas 2020 se pueden consultar en:

https://www.winepleasures.com/50-great-cavas-2020

A diferencia de otras competiciones para el vino espumoso, Wine Pleasures mediante una nota de prensa hace una difusión importante de los resultados 50 Great Cavas 2020. Concretamente se envían a

  • Más de 75,000 importadores, distribuidores y comercios en mercados importantes como EEUU, países europeos, y países asiáticos
  • Más de 140,000 seguidores en las redes sociales (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter y Linkedin).
  • Revistas relacionado con el vino y el turismo del vino

Véase la versión inglesa de este comunicado desde 50 Great Cavas to try in 2020>>

50 Great Cavas to try in 2020

Once again the only annual wine competition for Cava has uncorked a breathtaking range of Brut Nature and Brut Cavas from young to long aged ready for Christmas and throughout 2020. Anthony Swift, Competition Director highlights the Cavas that excelled at the annual tasting organised by Wine Pleasures.

12 top-tier Cavas receive Gold Medals with scores of 95 & 96 points and have been been classified as Highly Recomended and these were obtained by producers who score high year on year in the competition Regular Gold winners include Adernats (Nulles, Tarragona), Vía de la Plata (Extremadura), Sumarroca (Penedès), UVESTE (Requena, Valencia), Rovellats (Penedès) and Roger Goulart (Penedès) . Also achieving a Gold medal are newcomers to the competiton: Agrícola Casa Sala (Penedès) with Can Sala Cava de Paraje and Clos Montblanc (Concà de Barberà) with Clos Montblanc Brut Premium

The remainder of the Cavas were classified as Recommended and were awarded Silver medals with scores ranging between 90 and 94 points. Most of the medals were awarded to producers in the Penedès wine region (Catalonia) with some awards going to producers located in Calatayud (Bodegas Langa), Extremadura (Vía de la Plata) & Valencia (Bodegas Vegalfaro & UVESTE). Some interesting retail prices too amongst the 50 Greats ranging from €4,95 to €35 Euros making Cava a luxury you can afford whenever you wish.

Those looking to splurge on long aged Cava (Cava Grand Reserva Larga Crianza) should try and get their hands on prize winners from prestigious Cava producers Sumarroca Núria Claverol Homenatge (40 months), RRP €43,95 and Agrícola Casa Sala Can Sala (132 months), RRP €75,00

The results of the 2020 edition of annual competition 50 Great Cavas can be viewed at https://www.winepleasures.com/50-great-cavas-2020 and contains all the Gold and Silver medal winners with photos and tasting notes for each. 50 Great Cavas 2020 is a useful resource consulted by both the on and off trade and the end wine consumer/wine traveller.

 

The Secret’s Out: Exciting Wines from Bolivia

Shouldering against the titans of Argentina, Brazil and Chile, Bolivia has undoubtedly got a battle on when it comes to export markets but to be fair wine has only been produced in Bolivia for 400 years or so.

Almost all of Bolivia’s vineyards are located between 1,600 and 3,000 metres above sea level. Indeed, Bolivia may very well be the country with the highest vineyard surface in the world. These lofty altitudes provide high UV exposure and wide ranging diurnal temperatures, giving deep coloured but fresh wines, with ripe tannins and high acidity and have been appropriately been given the name High Altitude Wines.

On a recent visit to Bolivia and with the help and guidance of the Wines of Bolivia Association, Wine Pleasures visited two of Bolivia’s most extensive wine producing regions: The Central Valley of Tarija (El Valle de la Concepción – some 2,400 hectares of vineyards) around but mostly south of the tranquil colonial town of Tarija and to the popular tourist spot of Samaipata (Valleys of Santa Cruz – 100 hectares of vineyards) a 2-3 hour drive from Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Tarija

The main varieties planted in the central Valley of Tarija are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Tannat, Garnacha and Barbera in reds and Muscat of Alexandria, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Franc Colombard and Chenin Blanc in whites.

Bodega La Concepción

First up was a visit to Bodega La Concepción. Started in 1986 with day to day table wines along with Singani Rujero it has evolved into a Premium wine producer making monovarietal and blended wines from the following international grape varieties: Cabernet Suavignon, Syrah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay all under the brand name of High Altitude Vines.

Singani Rujero Colección Privada

Distilled from 100% high altitude Muscat of Alexandria, it’s a clear, bright punchy 40% alcohol spirit. Citrus on the nose with floral notes. Smooth velvety mouthfeel with lavender on the palate. Long lingering finish. Our host Carlos Paz Ide informed us that Singani works well in cocktails such as a refreshing Chuflay (ginger ale or lemon- lime soda), Sucumbé (milk, egg and cinnamon – a bit like eggnog), Yungueño (syrup and orange juice) and Té con Té ( hot black tea, cinnamon and lime – warms you up on the high mountains!).

Cepas de Altura Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Deep intense colour. Red forest fruits on the nose with hints of pepper and fennel. Fruity entrance albeit a tad herbaceous making for a slightly bitter palate. Assertive tannin. Some vanilla on the lingering finish. Should pair very well with a leg of lamb cooked with figs or prunes and some of the local strong cheeses.

Bodegas Kohlberg

After an interesting lunch in Fogon de Gringo in Tarija consisting of mostly meat, rice and vegetables followed by a pancake desert with cloves and aniseed (Tojori) and a red from La Concepción we headed back out for our second winery visit to Bodegas Kohlberg.

Just by entering the winery and seeing the huge towering and numerous inox tanks you would be right to guess that Kohlberg is the largest wine producer in the Tarija region. The wine we tasted was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Malbec (20%) & Syrah (20%) partly aged in new oak barrels. The wine is called 200 Años Gran Reserva and commemorates the bicentennial of Tarija.

200 Años Gran Reserva Edition limitada 2017

Intense fruit aromas of Fruits of the forest, dark cherry. Delicate and discreet fruit on the palate which is light bodied but with strong tannins still  abound. Slightly herbaceous on a subtle fruity finish which is lingering.

Bodega y Viñedos Kuhlmann

At the family winery Bodega y Viñedos Kuhlmann we were hosted by winemaker Franz Molina Conzelmann. Pioneer Franz Kuhlmann founded the winery in 1930 and is well known for making Singani and more recently an interesting sparkling wine called Altosama Espumente de Altura a Brut made using the charmat method. Tropical fruit and floral notes. Lively fizz. Fruity palate. Slight bitter almond on the finish. It is featured as one of the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2019 and was awarded a Gold medal (95 points) in the annual competition organised by Wine Pleasures.

The Singani Los Parrales Reserva Aniversario (100% Muscat of Alexandria) also won Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits  Competition.

The winery recently built a state of the art new winery on the outskirts of Tarija in the Santa Ana district with great views of the Santa Ana valley and Alto Sama mountains.

The winery also owns the 5* Resort Hotel Los Parrales (where we stayed) 3.5 Kms out of the town centre which affords views of Tarija and the River Guadalquivír.

Campos de Solana

At Campos de Solana, a large, premium brand open for wine tourism we were hosted by winemaker Nelson Sfarcich and Production Manager Jorge Furio. Working with Malbec, cabernet sauvignon, tannat in reds and Riesling in whites, we were treated to their Decanter (Platinum) award winning wine Único 2016 on what was a flying visit.

Samaipata

For the last leg of our trip to discover wines and wine tourism in Bolivia we were to head to the Valleys of Santa Cruz de la Sierra which is home to only a few small wineries dedicated to the production of wine and Singani. The Valleys of Santa Cruz are located immediately to the Southwest of the Codo de los Andes between 18º and 19º of latitude south. Currently there are up to 300 ha planted but there is a potential to plant as many as 10,000 ha especially around Vallegrande well known by Che Guevara pilgrims. Our destination was to be the Uvairenda winery located close to the touristic town of Samaipata (a two and a half hour drive from Santa Cruz de la Sierra) in the foothills of the Cordillera Oriental.

Uvairenda

Francisco Roig, Head Winemaker & Co-Owner of Uvairenda has his vineyards  between 1700 and 1800 meters above sea level on terraced slopes, and is working with Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Merlot for reds and Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc, Pedro Giménez and Chardonnay for whites. His wines can be best described as boutique and while we did not get the chance to meet Francisco we were able to talk to his colleague, Humberto Andrade in the Uvairenda office and shop in Calle Sucre #700 (Casco Viejo), Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

We tasted the following wines:

1750 – Pedro Giménez 2017 Citrus notes particularly grapefruit on the nose and buttery notes. Creamy texture, bitter almond entrance and palate. Long persistent nutty finish.

1750 – Tannat Vintage 2017 Blackcurrant, licorice, blackberry, herbs, cloves, Fruity entrance, spicy and slightly bitter palate. Pleasant tannins. Long lingering finish.

We asked about the 1750 on the labels expecting it to be a year something happened but in fact it is the minimum altitude of Francisco’s vineyards.

While most have probably never heard of wines of Bolivia let alone tasted any, this could well be all set to change in the coming years as Wines of Bolivia get noticed at trade fairs such as Prowein and international wine competitions. With most tour operators and travel agents currently taking FIT and group travel to La Paz, Lake Titcaca and a flight down to Salar de Uyuni, there is much to be done by the Ministerio de Culturas y Turismo from a wine and culinary tourism perspective as little is currently being done to attract this niche tourism.

Article by Anthony Swift
Photos by Rosa Antelo Moreno

World’s Top Sparkling Wine Competitions

Effervescents du Monde

The longest running competition exclusively for sparkling wines Effervescents du Monde, organised by the Association Forum Œnologie, in participation with the Revue des Œnologues and in partnership with the Castel Culinary School (Dijon, France), which acts as the sensory performance assessment centre for the expert judges, and hosts the competition. The competition receives over 500 entries from over 20 countries. The majority of the entries are from France and involves some 100 international judges. More information here>>

50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World Competition

The completion 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World makes for a more competitive competition as medals are only awarded to those producers awarded the 50 best scores. 5 judges are appointed each year with 2 of them being constant. Judges are typically wine buyers/sommeliers with current direct commercial buying responsibility. The competition singles out and shines the spotlight on 50 sparkling wines that consumers really want to buy and have a clear market value for trade buyers. Judging is organised according to method of production. Portugal, Italy and Spain tend to dominate the top 50 positions. More information here>>

The Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships

A more sophisticated sparkling wine completion which not only tastes and rates the wines but also breaks down the results into several category winners so for example you have World Champion by Style, National Champion, Regional Champion, Best in Class, Chairman’s Choice and the list goes on. Unique to this competition is that there are just 3 judges namely Tom Stevenson, Essi AveLlan MW and Dr. Tony Jordan and as a team they judge all of the entries on a year on year basis which means constant, reliable and efficient judging. As the name of the competition implies a high number of entries from France. More information here>>

50 Great Cavas

The only competition for sparkling wines produced under Spain’s Designation of Origen, Cava. A panel of 5 international judges from around the world including including Masters of Wine and Sommeliers, importers, wine makers, journalists sit down over two days and judge the Cavas according to 4 categories Cava, Reserva, Gran Reserva, Cava de Paraje. Within each category Cavas are organised in flights according to dosage. Gold and Silver medals are awarded to the top 50 scorers. More information here>>

Brazilian Sparkling Contest

Recognized as the main competition for the promotion of Brazilian sparkling wine, the Brazilian Sparkling Contest receives registrations of sparkling wines obtained from the different methods of production. The sparkling wines are tasted by a select group of tasters chosen by the Associação Brasileira de Enologia (charmat and traditional method). Tasting standards of the International Grape and Wine Organization (OIV) and the International Union of Winemakers (UIOE) continue to guide the event. The best sparkling wines are awarded according to category. More information here>>

Did we miss any? Please feel free to add a comment pointing to a competition not listed here.

Top 50 Sparkling Wines for 2019

From 157 Sparkling wines entered to the annual completion organised by Wine Pleasures, our judges tasted through premium bubblies from around the Old and New World to bring you the best 50 available for 2019. Anthony Swift, Competition Director looks at the results.

Once again, the competition to find the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World has popped a breathtaking blend of award – winning sparkling wines from around the world. Of the 157 sparkling wines entered from diverse terroirs and countries the top 50 are dominated by bubbles from Italy, Portugal & Spain.  Diverse too were the grape varieties used to make top quality sparkling wines such as Alvarinho and Touriga Nacional from Portugal, Glera, Trebbiano & Sangiovese from Italy, Macabeo, Perellada & Xarel.lo from Spain as well as the classic Champagne varieties such as Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir made in Australia, Austria, Slovenia and the UK.

In the case of sparkling wines made using the traditional method these were classified and tasted according to dosage and ageing time on the lees. In many cases there was significant ageing on the lees giving wines great character and complexity. Gold medals and classified as Exceptional each with 97 points are Freixenet Can Sala by Freixenet (Penedès (Cava), Spain), Soldati La Scolca Spumante Brut Millesimato d’Antan by La Scolca (Gavi, Italy) and Adega de Palmela Medium Dry by Adega de Palmela (Península de Setúbal, Portugal). 

English new comers to the competition Blackdown Ridge and Court Garden both with vineyards in Sussex make a statement for English Sparkling wine with both obtaining Gold medals.

Sparkling wines made using the Charmat method were classified and tasted according to dosage. Most demonstrated a combination of great finesse with a fine mousse and crisp acidity. Three gold medals awarded for this method of production and classified as Outstanding: Eight Carat Cuvee Rosé by Geoff Johnston Wines T/as Pirramimma (McLaren Vale, Australia) , Mateus Sparkling Rosé Brut Baga And Shiraz by Sogrape Vinhos (Porto, Portugal), Viña Albali Sec by Félix Solís Avantis (Castilla La Mancha Valdepeñas, Spain

This year saw just 3 Frizzantes entered with Bonarda Cresta Del Ghiffi by Fratelli Agnes (Lombardia, Italy) gaining a silver medal and a place amongst the 50 Greats.

Quality was high. Traditional method vintage production dominated the competition with some nice prices, most ranging from €6 to €25 Euros. Charmat method production wines range from €5 to €15.

Bubble lovers will more than likely find it a tough task to find the sparkling wines amongst the 50 Greats published here in their preferred wine retailer as most wines are “boutique” and therefore not mass produced. Best option would be to look online to see if the producers sell direct to the wine lover or if there are any online retailers selling the product.

We hope the results of the competition will encourage both the trade and the wine lover to find, try and enjoy the most exceptional sparkling wines at Christmas and during 2019. To view the great sparkling wine discoveries for 2019 click on the banner below:

50 Stellar Cavas for 2019

Once again the only annual wine competition for Cava has uncorked a breathtaking range of Brut Nature and Brut Cavas from young to long aged ready for Christmas and throughout 2019. Anthony Swift, Competition Director highlights the Cavas that excelled at the annual tasting organised by Wine Pleasures.

23 top-tier Cavas receive Gold Medals with scores of 95 – 97points and have been classified as Outstanding and these were obtained by producers who score high year on year in the competition Regular Gold winners include Adernats (Nulles, Tarragona), Mas Codina (Penedès), Pago de Tharsys (Requena, Valencia), Vía de la Plata (Extremadura), Gramona (Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Penedès) Agustí Torelló Mata (Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Penedès) Sumarroca (Subirats, Penedès) Bodega Vegalfaro (Requena, Valencia) and Ramón Canals Canals (Castellvi de Rosanes, Penedès). Also achieving Gold medals are the following newcomers to the competiton: Roger Goulart with Roger Goulart Gran Reserva 2011, Bodegas Pinord with Marrugat Gran Reserva Brut Nature Millésime 2011 and Bodegas Ca n’Estella with Cava Rabetllat i Vidal Gran Reserva de la Finca

The remainder of the Cavas were classified as Highly Recommended and were awarded Silver medals with scores ranging between 90 and 94 points. Most of the medals were awarded to producers in the Penedès wine region (Catalonia) with some awards going to producers located in Calatayud (Bodegas Langa), Extremadura (Vía de la Plata) & Valencia (Pago de TharsysBodegas Vegalfaro & UVESTE). Some interesting retail prices too amongst the 50 Greats ranging from €4,95 to €35 Euros making Cava a luxury you can afford whenever you wish.

Those looking to splurge on long aged Cava (Cava Grand Reserva Larga Crianza) should try to get their hands on prize winners from prestigious Cava producer Gramona – Celler Battlé Brut Gran Reserva 2006 Vintage (120 months), Recommended Retail Price (RRP) €56 and Enoteca Gramona 2004 Vintage RRP €140

The results of the 2019 edition of annual competition 50 Great Cavas can be viewed at https://www.winepleasures.com/50-great-cavas-for-2019  and contains all the Gold and Silver medal winners with photos and tasting notes for each. 50 Great Cavas 2019 is a useful resource consulted by both the on and off trade and the end wine consumer/wine traveller.

After 300 harvests, Mas Codina go back to organic roots

Up in the Alt Penedès, watched over by the impressive peak of Montserrat, Mas Codina is a small organic family winery, which maintains very much of a local and traditional feel, growing 40 hectares of red and white grapes. A lazy Saturday morning provided the perfect excuse to pay a little visit to learn about their personal process and sample some of the fruits of their labours.

The house was constructed back in 1681, with grape cultivation beginning some time after that (records are a little patchy so far back in the mists of time!). When wine production first began, it was originally stored in barrels and sold to other wineries in that format, along with harvested grapes ready for processing, but in 1985 the family began bottling their own wine. The business has grown from there, still today growing all of their own vines, and selling some of their grapes on to other wine producers.

Many of their vines are still in the traditional style of freestanding bushes, making the most of the available space, slowly being replaced by the system of row support wires now more widely seen around the world. The different varieties are planted in differing directions to make the most of the sunlight. While around 10% of the crop is harvested by machine in the cooler night-times in August, the rest is all lovingly harvested by hand slightly later in the year as the other varieties ripen, and more helping hands are available assist with the picking.

Seeking to be kinder to the environment, and also following the increasingly popular trend, Mas Codina was certified as an organic producer in 2017, after the required three years’ conversion period. Today, they use no chemicals on their grapes, only certain minerals such as copper and sulphur to help in natural prevention of crop diseases. In place of harmful insecticides, natural hormones are used to discourage moths from destroying the grapes. Old, gnarly olive trees provide a rustic border to the vineyards, and are also used for the production of organic olive oil.

The cellar keeps the bottles cool to allow the Cavas to age and create their complexity, with climate control if needed to maintain exactly the right temperature during the hot summers’ days. The pressing and storage machines are glistening and modern, to maximise the efficiency of production, but as the winery’s unwritten motto says, the quality of the product is down to the grapes and the traditional know how that goes into their growing and cultivation through the year. Good grapes mean a good final product; the machines simply facilitate the process.

The grapes are separated from the twigs, cooled to around 15° to protect the aroma and avoid oxidation, and pressed. Like many grape growers, Mas Codina keep only the finest grapes and the first pressing for themselves, selling off any excess and further pressings to other wineries. Of the wine produced, 70% is cava, and the rest is still wine, both red and white. Roughly 65% is exported, 25% being consumed in the local Catalan region, and 10% being consumed elsewhere in Spain – it seems the rest of Spain has not yet discovered the deliciousness within.

As any good winery visit should, ours ended with a tasting.  Seated around a small round table, the anticipation was palpable – having featured several times previously in the annual 50 Great Cavas competition, it was little surprise that the Cava we tried was delicious, and it was just a shame there was not the chance to try more – rumour has it that the Mas Codina Brut Rosé is especially tasty!

The award winning Cava we tasted on the day was the Mas Codina Brut Nature Reserva 2015

Tim Hall
Travel Blog Writer>>

Bohigas: filling your glass with 800 years of local knowledge

Sitting in a privileged location a stone’s throw from Igualada (the capital of the Catalonian province of Anoia), Fermí Bohigas winery, nestled amongst woods and vineyards, carries an illustrious wine making heritage stretching back nearly 800 years into the 21st century.

Walking through the impressive gates to Caves Bohigas, it’s as if you’re entering an old fortress. But get inside and it also feels like a traditional Spanish winery should feel; walking in through the arched entrance in a rustic whitewashed wall, the gravel crunching under your feet, you have the sensation of stepping back through time and coming to the right place. The courtyard that greets you is straight out of the most evocative romantic novel, the blooming rose bushes gently shaded by plane trees, wooden barrels and old wine making artefacts to remind you why you’re here, with old stone steps and little wooden doors inviting you to explore further.

And Bohigas can back it up with a longer and more detailed history than some countries – the winery is independent, family-owned, and they can trace their wine-making routes all the way back to 1290. The cellar (or “Cava” in Catalan) was first dug out in the 1500s and refurbished in 1929, also the year Bohigas officially began producing the sparkling Cava, having previously focused on still wines. Despite having expanded and now producing more than 600,000 bottles a year of various types – both sparkling and still –to sell locally and around the world, their history clearly remains very dear to them, as you’re reminded by the little touches throughout – a traditional wooden press here, original storage racks there, the house filled with memories and fascinating knick-knacks amassed during the family’s eight-century story in this spot.

Following the Cava-making process takes you through a barrage of contrasts, as Bohigas strive to achieve the fine balance between tradition and heritage, and modern and efficient practices. Climb the ancient stone steps that seem to lead into a tradition barn, and instead inside you’re greeted by sparklingly sterile modernity in the shape of giant stainless tanks; due to their size and to preserve the structure of the historical building in which they reside, the entire roof was removed, the tanks lowered in with a crane, and the roof rebuilt over them! These tanks are where the various grape varieties undergo their individual initial fermentation, and where the different varieties are then mixed in just the right ratios to create the base cava. From there, you descend into the dimly-lit cellar, immediately aware of the pleasant cool inside – the depth below the ground causes it to maintain a constant temperature year-round, perfect for the second fermentation and aging the various cavas they produce. Large, featureless, jail-like rooms inside the cellar reveal themselves to be historical wine fermentation tanks – an entry shoot in the ceiling allowed the grapes to be dropped in, and the weight of the fruit itself caused enough pressure to extract the juice, which then naturally fermented, before being removed through a pipe at the bottom, bottled and taken to market.

Escaping the damp chill of the cellar and emerging like hibernating beasts in the spring to cross the picturesque yard and enter the processing plant, you immediately return to the 21st century. Here, state of the art machines are the kings, bringing the required accuracy to finesse and finish the different types of wine ready for local or international delivery – about 90% of Bohigas’ annual production now being exported and enjoyed worldwide.

Tasting the Cavas – with a couple of slices of pan con tomate, naturally, since we’re in Cataluña – only reinforces the sense of pride in the tradition and quality produced at Bohigas – something that is backed up by their repeated high-scoring presence in the annual 50 Great Cavas contest, with more than one of their cavas securing coveted Highly Recommended or Outstanding results from the expert wine-tasting jury. If it’s good enough for them, it’s most certainly good enough for me!

On the day, we had the chance to sample three of their current Cava offerings (all of them with medals and amongst the 50 Great Cavas for 2018), and in case you’re wondering, this is what our expert wine tasters had to say after judging them in the competition earlier this year:

Cava Bohigas Brut Nature Reserva 2015>>

Noa de Bohigas>>

Cava Bohigas Rosat>>

Tim Hall
Travel Blog Writer>>