Mid Summer Evening Duo of Gastronomy & Music Matched with Sumarroca Wines

Sumarroca 50 Great Cavas 2016Some of the Wine Pleasures team recently had the, ahem, pleasure of taking a tour of the Sumarroca winery cellars, tasting room, vineyards and more one beautiful day in Spain’s Penedès wine region.  It was an absolutely fantastic experience, made more so by the enthusiasm and warm friendliness of Carles Sumarroca, his wife Nuria Claverol and the General Manager Josep Puig Subirana. We tasted an absolutely delicious cava which will be featured in the 50 Great Cavas 2016 book, and were invited to a special event at their chateau, the Heretat Sabartes Estate.  We arrived the next evening, finding our way around lots of roundabouts with a less than cooperative GPS, and pulled up to the impressive 19th century modernist mansion.

In the words of Josep, “Es otro mundo”, and it truly is like another world.

Sumarroca 50 Great CavasWe arrived at about 8 in the evening, a lovely time to see the sun streaming through the branches of the enormous tree in the center of the driveway approaching the mansion.  Near the entrance to the estate, there is a stand alone building used as a space for performances, with seating and a stage set up for the music later in the evening.  The estate has 25 hectares of vineyards, where Muscat, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are absolutely thriving in the chalky soil typical of the Baix Penedès.   The lawns around the mansion are beautifully manicured, and we are greeted with glasses of Cava Rosado immediately.  Many guests have arrived already for the event, an evening of gastronomic delights, wine and a musical performance by a very talented Catalan guitarist, Xavier Coll.

Sumarroca 50 Great CavasWe walk with our glasses of delicate and refreshing cava, and meet Josep on a grassy knoll to the left of the mansion.  Just beyond is a large bar set up with many tables around it for open-air dining.  Josep gives us a tour of much of the estate, including large rooms with beautiful floral arrangements, furnishings, tables set with pristine linens and stemware and enormous floor to ceiling windows with views of the vineyards surrounding the estate.  It is in these rooms that many events and even weddings have been hosted.

Sumarroca 50 Great CavasBehind the mansion itself, you can take in the view of their own vineyards and neighbouring vineyards on all sides.  There is a lovely pool surrounded with lush green plants, and a duck waddling around, to the delight of the guests (myself especially J )

We explored the estate, enjoyed glasses of cava and the tasty appetizers.  It was soon time for dinner and all the smiling guests began to head for the grassy hill where beautiful large, round tables were set.  It was a social kind of dinner, each table was set for eight, so we had the opportunity to Sumarroca 50 Great Cavaseat and mingle with some new faces and enjoy our meal with Josep.  It was beginning to get dark now, and we headed to the bar to try more wines.  Their Temps de Flors was absolutely lovely, delicate, floral.  It is a blend mainly of Xarel-lo combined with the sweet and elegant aromas of Muscat and Gewurtzraminer, which are international grapes that are grown in their own vineyards.

Dinner was an absolute delight.  We didn’t know what to expect.  I personally expected something perhaps a little more traditional from an estate such as this, which boasts such timeless beauty.  Instead we saw many different tables set up with food all around the perimeter of the grassy seating area on the lush lawn.  Each table represented food from a different part of the world.  The mushroom risotto and caprese salad from the Italian table were absolutely mouth-watering.  The sushi was fantastic, including red tuna nigiri, salmon sashimi and much more.  Lamb kebabs and humus awaited in a Middle Eastern themed table.  Omelettes with prawns, cheeses and crackers were on offer at a French inspired table.  Fajitas with guacamole and tortilla chips on a Mexican inspired table.  Small steak burgers grilled right before your eyes and topped with cheese and caramelized onion were a great surprise at what I guess is an American table, complete with French fries and ketchup.

Sumarroca 50 Great CavasWhen we first sat down we went to the bar at the epicenter of all these tables and ordered a glass of wine each.  Later someone came to bring us bottles for the table.  We were so impressed, and I personally felt completely spoiled.  The food was truly impressive and all the guests were having a fantastic time.  The energy of the night was infectious, everyone was well fed and had all the wine you could possibly ask for, smiles and laughter abound.

As darkness spread and the stars began to Xavier Coll at Sumarroca 50 Great Cavascome out for the evening, all the guests finished with their dinners and were led to the performance hall near the entrance of the estate.  There was a small stage set up and we were lucky enough to snag seats right at the front.  Four acoustic instruments were set up, a traditional guitar and three other string instruments bearing similarities to the guitar, some with more strings, all different sizes.  Xavier Coll came out and played hauntingly beautiful music with each instrument, that had the room shrouded in silence as all the guests watched on with bated breath.  He played three songs with the traditional guitar.  All the songs so far had been only guitar music, but with the final song he demonstrated his very powerful and moving voice.  The entire crowd was stirred by this show of talent and he received a standing ovation.

It was truly an unforgettable evening, and far exceeded my expectations.  If you have the chance to experience this, we highly recommend this to anyone with an appreciation for fine foods and wine, a healthy appetite and an ear for traditional music.

Ayesha Durrani

 

50 Great Cavas Será un Libro Impreso en 2016

Centro de Interpretación de Cava.A lo largo de los últimos 4 años que Wine Pleasures lleva con la publicación 50 Great Cavas hemos podido observar que:

  • Muchos  importadores de vino y sobre todo en Japón, lo utilizan para descubrir y comprar nuevos cavas
  • Los consumidores de vino agradecen que existe una información objetiva sobre el Cava y a la hora de comprar una botella de Cava, tener una referencia fiable sobre el producto
  • Los enoturistas utilizan el libro para programar visitas y catas.
  • Con la colaboración de la tienda online Decántalo durante los dos últimos muchos bodegas han conseguido un canal de distribución más para la venta de sus cavas

Vallformosa Winery.Además, Wine Pleasures por su parte está promocionando un producto enoturístico: el 50 Great Cava Tour que consiste únicamente en visitas a bodegas con catas de Cavas entre los 50 Greats del año vigente.

Para 2015 y 2016 hacia a dónde vamos con la iniciativa?

Primero, hemos tomado la decisión de hacer 50 Great Cavas 2015 impreso ya que han sido muchas solicitudes de recibir el libro impreso. Para Cavas Llopart.la readacción 2015/2016, hemos convocado los escritores conocidos Terry y Kathy Sullivan de Wine Trail Traveler . Con el libro impreso pretendemos conseguir un tangible en los despachos de importadores, distribuidores y en las tiendas de vino y un tangible atractivo en las casas de los wine lovers quienes son al final y al cabo los enoturistas que pueden llegar a visitar las bodegas con Cavas entre los 50 Greats.

Cataluña será la sede de la International Wine Tourism Conference 2016 (IWINETC 2016), uno de los congresos anuales más importantes de enoturismo a escala mundial. Puede leer el artículo en La Vanguardia

Catalonia-is-your-homeiwinetcAprovechando que el Congreso Internacional de Enoturismo se va a celebrar en España en Abril 2016, Wine Pleasures (Organizadores del evento), mediante catas 50 Great Cavas, visitas 50 Great Cavas y la difusión del libro impreso 50 Great Cavas, lograrà llegar a un público amplio a nivel mundial – asistirán tour operators y agencias especializados en enoturismo, someliers, importadores de vino, medios de prensa especializao en vino y enoturismo y un sinfín de personas relacionadas con el negocio wine tourism.

Centro de Interpretación de Cava.La Convocatoria para 50 Great Cavas 2015/2016 está abierta hasta el 15 de mayo 2015. Algunas de las bodegas inscritas hasta la fecha incluyen Canals i Munné, Juvé i Camps, Adernats Vinícola de Nulles,  Dominio de la Vega, Gramona, Mascaró, Bertha, Felix Masanna, Rovellats y Vegalfaro.

Véase 50 Great Cavas 2014 en a portada abajo:

50 Great Cavas 2014 cover

Se Convoca 50 Great Cavas 2015

Wine Pleasures ha anunciado la convocatoria de la 5ª edición de 50 Great Cavas 2015, cuya finalidad es contribuir a la promoción de este producto representativo de los vinos  de España, así como mejorar su imagen y posicionamiento en el mercado. También tiene como objetivo la promoción del enoturismo hacia las bodegas incluidas entre los 50 mejores cavas.

Podrán participar en la convocatoria sólo los espumosos que pertenezcan a la Denominación de Origen Cava.

Mediante la convocatoria de los 50 Great Cavas Wine Pleasures reconoce la excelencia de los productos en 9 categorias:

Categoría 1 – Brut Nature
Categoría 2 – Brut Nature Reserva
Categoría 3 – Brut Nature Gran Reserva
Categoría 4 – Extra-Brut Reserva
Categoría 5 – Extra-Brut Gran Reserva
Categoría 6 – Brut
Categoría 7 – Brut Reserva
Categoría 8 – Brut Gran Reserva
Categoría 9 – Rosado

La quinta edición del Concurso 50 Great Cavas de este año celebrará las catas de selección de los vinos participantes del 25 al 29 de mayo. Las sesiones contarán en su panel de catadores con enólogos, sumilleres y periodistas.

La publicación del libro 50 Great Cavas esta prevista para los finales de junio y contará con un apartado sobre la elaboración y producción de Cava, notas de catas de los 50 Cavas mejor puntuados y un reportaje sobre cada bodega y su oferta enoturística.

50 Great Cavas Edición 2014>>

50 Great Cavas en Twitter: @50GreatCavas #50GC

50 Great Cavas en FB>>

Some of the 50 Great Cavas producers in 2014:

Discover the Palace of Cava

50 Great Cavas 2014 Pere VenturaPenedes is one of the most significant winemaking regions of Spain and the birthplace of celestial drink called Cava. Grapes were cultivated here in the 4th century BC or even earlier so the traditions have been carefully preserved and passed down in many generations. But specifically here the winemakers created a sparkling wine to the French technology and today Cava remains the main rival of Champagne.

50 Great Cavas 2014 Pere VenturaNumerous vineyards scattered around the highlands of Penedes all have a special feeling of creativeness and serenity. As you pass them by, you can see how carefully the grapes are pruned for the winter, how neat are the yards and how everything is arranged with great care and attention. We shall talk about our visit to one of the 50 Great Cava producers of Spain, the Pere Ventura winery, located at the main entrance (or exit depending on which you go) of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia.

50 Great Cavas Pere Ventura 2014The title of the article “Palace of Cava” was conjured up the instant we entered through the winery gates. The “Palace” has 60 hectares of vineyards close by from which the traditional varieties are grown in the best soil and carefully handpicked. Guests are welcome not by Pere Ventura himself, but by his spouse Mireia. The Pere Ventura Company was founded only 23 years ago, but today is one of the most successful wine and cava producers in Spain, selling 1.2 million bottles of wine a year. Mireia manages to give a hearty welcome to every single person visiting her ‘palace’ (now, in January it is mainly locals, the pure Catalan speech is audible), to advise and sell cava and control her employees at the same time.

50 Great Cavas 2014 Pere VenturaWe were met by our guide – a polite young man in a uniform suit and with a small flashlight. Having kindly warned that on the way there will be a set of descents and turns, he invited us to enter. The wine cellars of Pere Ventura have three levels of depth and two kilometers of length. Bottles of a cava, draped with webs and moss, are laid out along walls in the traditional way – absolutely horizontal in rimas (the Catalan name of rows of bottles). They are all corked with metal to prevent the smell of natural cork to infuse the aroma of the drink. They explained that cava is much more sensitive to foreign smells than wine. The temperature, lighting and humidity level are also specific for cava aging here.

50 Great Cavas Pere VENTURACellars are built in a traditional Catalan style with vaulted arches. All galleries and corridors are connected among themselves, easy to move around. Moving from the hall to the hall, we saw all process of aging of the inspiring drink.

Pere Ventura produces cava from three local varieties of grapes – Xarel-lo, Parellada and Macabeo. They grow here at three different levels of heights. Wines are aged both in bottles and in the wooden barrels on display for visitors, occupying the special hall. At the end of our tour, we were shown the power-operated room where bottles are corked and labelled by machines, while final quality control is manual.

50 Great Cavas 2014 Pere VenturaWe have also learned that Pere Ventura comes from a noble family of wine makers. His ancestors stood at the origins of creation of a cava at the end of the 19th century. Being the wine maker in the fourth generation, Pere Ventura isn’t afraid to experiment and is responsible for quality of a product with his name on.

The guided tour ends with wine tasting with traditional Catalan snacks like almond truffles, grain bars, smoked sausage and cheese. From five sorts of a cava that were offered, three were included into the 50 Great Cavas according to Winepleasures.com. At the moment, it is the only authoritative rating of a cava recognized in Spain. They were:

50 Grat Cavas 2013 Pere VenturaBrut Reserva Cupatge D´Honor Vintage 2011 (93 points 50 Great Cavas 2014)– Brioche, baked apples, vanilla & subtle citric notes. Fresh entrance & palate. Medium finish.

Tresor Rosé (95 points 50 Great Cavas 2014)– Wild strawberries on the nose. Explosion of fruit on the palate. Crisp short finish. Pleasant mouthfeel. Resplendent!

Tresor Brut Reserva (93 points 50 Great Cavas 2014) – Green apples with subtle notes of almonds & pastry. Creamy entrance with balanced acidity. Fresh medium finish.

Guided tours available at 10h, 12h and 16h on working days by appointment.

How to get to and visit Pere Ventura

La Fassina, Phylloxera, Calçots & 50 Great Cavas

50 Great Cava Media Tour 2014The final day of the Wine Pleasures 50 Great Cava Tour found our intrepid group in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, the epicenter and world capital of Cava.

Our first stop was at the Centro de Interpretación de Cava – La Fassina de Can Guineu where we were able to learn all about Cava in the excellent self-paced multi-media touch screens. The interactive panels tell the story of the region and the history of Cava production. One of the most interesting sections depicted the many adverts and posters promoting Cava Festivals over the years. I think these posters, beautiful examples of graphic design, would make for great souvenirs. I wish the museum gift shop carried them.

50 Great Cavas 2014 Media TourBut the true focal point of the museum pertains to phylloxera. Most people think of phylloxera as a devastating pest that destroys vineyards, but from the perspective of Spain it was an economic opportunity to capitalize on the misfortune of France.

There is an entire exhibit room devoted to the phylloxera festival that’s held every September 7 & 8 in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. A short film shows the annual Phylloxera Festival as it celebrates the tiny bug in a lively fashion. Part Mardi Gras style carnival, and part folk festival, the phylloxera is honored with a giant replica of the aphid and the whole town joins in a parade and revels in the streets with many people wearing paper mâché bug heads that are quite 50 Great Cavas 2014 Media Tourhorrific looking. The exhibit also had examples of angry vine head masks that were gruesome and looked like the faces on the apple trees in the Wizard of Oz.

For a more profound experience, you can get up close and personal with a 3D phylloxera insect from larvae state to full-grown creature that will look you right in the eye as you stand before an interactive display. This is best experienced after a glass of Cava, or for those in a good state of mental health. If you are prone to nightmares I suggest you skip it.

50 Great Cava Media Tour 2014The rest of the Centro de Interpretación de Cava has plenty to see and enjoy including a 3D film on the region and wine making process.  The film ends with the motto: “the offspring of a feeling” –which I suppose can be open to all sorts if interpretations –but many in our group thought it evoked a double entendre with a sexual overtone. Well, not many in our group just one who shall remain nameless but here’s a hint –“butter fingers” with an iPhone. Okay, enough insider information. On with the tour–

The museum was a previously a distillery, and in the basement, a former tank room, you can watch a light and sound show projected on the walls and ceiling that depicts the primary elements necessary for the production of Cava— earth, water, wind, fire/sunlight and of course, time. The room shakes with surround sound and a gentle breeze blows on cue to give you the feeling of total immersion in the vineyard. Afterwards you will be panting for a taste of Cava.

50 Great Cavas Wine Pleasures visits Celler VellLuckily for us we only had to trot up a few flights of stairs to a conference room where we tasted several Cava’s from the small artisan producer, Celler Vell. In the tasting line-up was the Estruch Brut Gran Reserva 2009, the Celler Vell Extra Brut Gran Reserva, and the Celler Vell Brut Nature Reserva –all awarded in the list of 50 Great Cava’s of 2014. 

Next stop on the 50 Great Cava’s tour– Canals & Munné to view the cellars and taste the award winning Cava’s. 2015 will mark 100 years of Cava production at Canals & Munné and we brain-stormed a few ideas for the centennial celebration next year with export manager Natalia de la Calle Zancajo. Then we were given a tour of the facility and the charming Oscar Medina Canals demonstrated the manual corking equipment and showed us how the cage and cap was attached to the bottle.

In the tasting room we tried several of the wonderful Cava’s including an organic offering, Dionysus Brut Nature, and my personal favorite the Insuperable a blend of 40% Macabeau, 30% Xarel•lo, and 30% Perellada—a lovely balanced Cava with a floral nose, bright fruit flavors, and a bit of spice on the finish.

50 Great Cavas 2014 Canals i MunnéAfterwards we went back to the Cava centric town of Sant Siduru d’Anoia to the original location of Canals & Munné, which is now a restaurant and there we commenced upon a long lunch and paired traditional foods of the region with several more of the Cava’s.

The highlight of the meal were the calçots –fresh green onions that are barbecued six minutes on each side, then the center shoot is pulled from the long green outer leaves, dipped in salsa de calçots and eaten by throwing your head back and dropping the onion into your mouth and hopefully not down your shirt. Fortunately plastic bibs were provided to keep everyone pristine.

50 Great Cavas 2014Natalia showed us how to prepare the traditional Catalan appetizer Pa amb tomàquet which consists of tomato, garlic and olive oil on fresh toasted bread. She cautioned us not fill up on too much before the main meal but it was hard to resist. In addition to the fabulous calçots, the lunch included plates of fresh salad greens, artichokes, white beans, roasted peppers and eggplant, lamb and sausage with potatoes and the signature dessert Creme Catalan. The wines served were the Canals & Munné 1915 blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Xarel*lo and Macabeu. Alos the Reserve de L’Avi, and the Gran Duc Cava in the distinctive flared bottom bottle.

After the meal we had a grappa like digestive Marc De Cava made from the pomaces of the Cava’s. Thus with a toast and a salute we ended our meal and the 50 Great Cava tour came to a close. What a week it was.

Marcy Gordon

50 Great Cavas 2014 cover

Stories in a Glass – the Vilafranca VINSEUM Wine Museum

Vinseum 3“What does a glass of wine contain? A wish, a memory, a story…” our guide at VINSEUM, the Villafranca wine museum had suggested poetically to our small group at the start of our visit early that morning. By the time we’d finished the tour we’d learnt that a glass of vino contains so much more than grapes, yeast and sugar.

Set in an historic palace opposite the handsome cathedral in the centre of Villafranca, the museum, which reopened two years ago after an impressive remodelling, is the first museum dedicated to wine and cava in Catalonia.

Vinseum 2We began our visit on the top floor with an introduction by our guide Cecilia to the collections, including archaeological relics that demonstrated the long history and origins of wine in the region.

An audio visual presentation, enhanced by timed illumination of displays, told us that wine was introduced to Spain 2,700 years, when it arrived by sea, most probably with the Phoenicians, whilst a collection of objects related to the history of the vine and wine in Catalunya included treasures such as the oldest grape seeds dating to the 7th century BC.

Vinseum 4“Viticulture became important under the Romans who were already organizing their wines by age,” Cecilia revealed as she described the beginnings of viniculture in Catalonia and the disastrous affect of phylloxera on the early industry.

Many grape varieties were lost although it was thanks to phylloxera that oenology began after more scientific techniques were introduced to the study of wine.

Another video delved deeper into the winemaking process, from explaining the many parameters used to measure, monitor and identify wine quality, from using Ph levels to gauge acidity to calculating sugar content to check alcohol, and demonstrated with cute animations how yeast consumes sugar and once it’s consumed all we’re left with is wine.

vinseum 5Downstairs we browsed displays of ancient amphorae from Iberia, Rome, North Africa used to transport wine across the sea, along with beautiful old bottles and the very first barrel labels.

In the final room, windows gave onto the leafy streets of Villafranca and the splendid city cathedral, while an ornate Gothic alter piece from 1456 reminded us of the religious uses of wine and a handsome antique bar of its immeasurable social value. Not that we needed any reminders!

50 Great Cavas 2014  Pure by MascaroMost museum tours end in the gift shop but here visitors finish with a tasting in the bar, included in the €7 fee (along with an audio tour). The stylish little bar specialises in wine from Catalunya and is open to the public. It was in here that we got to sample yet another of the 50 Great Cavas 2014 –  Cava Reserva Brut Nature “Pure” by Mascaró

Lara Dunston

 

50 Great Cavas Media Tour Round-up Day 3 – Cavatron Picks up Steam

50 Great Cavas tasting Museu FerrocarrilesI’ve tasted wine in a vineyard. I’ve sipped and slurped in many a dull function room. I’ve sampled wines in rustic cellars, on metal gang ways high above the fermentation tanks, next to barrels in quite a few cobweb-filled cellars. I’ve drunk wines at the back of a coach stuck in snow and, this week, in an old stone hut on the edge of a vineyard. Today was a first however – a wine tasting in a railway museum.

Cava Dominio de la Vega Brut Reserva EspecialSadly not in one of the period carriages – there was a fantastic 1950s first class compartment that looked more airline than rail side – but here we were between an old vernacular and a Victorian steam train in the Museu del Ferrocarril de Catalunya. The wines were from Dominio de la Vega. Just four: Cava Artemayor Brut Nature,  a 50 Great Cava winning Brut Reserva Especial (and very special it was too) plus two red wines made from bobal. After several days of full-on cava tasting the reds were a welcomed me diversion. Some preferred the young vibrancy and fruit of the younger wine, but for me the depth and complexity of the single vineyard (La Beata) won the day.

Now fully up to speed on the history, of gauges, expansion and financial situation of the Spanish railway since 1312 or somesuch we shunted on to the unexcitingly named Bohigas winery.

Fermi Bohigas 50 Great Cavas 2013But what’s this? A welcome rosé cava in the entrance court yard a stroll through the hot midday sun to the vineyards and on to a cooling glass of their Blanc de Blanc Xarel-lo, passing a church and Aussie outback style windmill on route. Then through the cellars, the traditional styled rooms of the family home – including a loft room packed with a totally eclectic mix of bric-a-brac , memorabilia and random ‘stuff’ (a golden cherub, a human skull, a wooden sailing boat, dozens of dust laden tins, picture frames, hanging handbags, a row of decanters, two gramophones, a pair of ballet shoes…) an amazing collection that revealed more strangeness the longer one lingered.

50 Great Cavas 2And then a legendary lunch food/wine matching. The opening tapas – tuna tartare, scallops over mashed potato and cabbage, mixed croquettes, were, to a dish, superb. In season trumpet mushrooms appeared under a fried quail egg topping a slither of bacon and a slice of crisp bread and also in a Risotto every bit as good as the best from Italy. The wine of choice for all these dishes was the excellent Udina de Fermi Bohigas – White Garnacha, Xarel-lo and a splash of Chenin Blanc of all things, made for a stunning intro to the lunch. Other wines served included the firm Fermi de Fermi Bohigas 2009 a Syrah/Samso blend (Samso being Carignan) and the yeasty, beautifully balanced, Noa de Bohigas cava, one of the 50 Great Cavas.

A fantastic visit. We’ve had some really fantastic wines during the first few days of the cavathron; these were some of the best.

Vallformosa 50 Great Cavas 2012 - a Wine Pleasures visitContinuing the day – a tour of Vallformosa which must be one of the larger producers in Catalyuna. Elsewhere this years harvest has finished but at Vallformosa the final tractor loads of Parellada arrived just as we meandered through the winery. Said tractors tipped the grapes while us photographers snapped away with iPhones and SLRs. I managed to grab a stunningly interesting vine video – its up on twitter if you really have nothing better to do… (twitter tag #50gc)

Many wines on show here. To our tired and jadded palates we introduced such lovingly blended delights as a gently coloured merlot/sumoll and a syrah/tempranillo and several finely structured cavas. The Vallformosa range is well worth hunting down.

Masia Olivera 2And that was Thursday. It ended with me getting lost trying to find my hotel room at Masia Olivera and making friends with a young alsatian. She slept on my bath towel at the bottom of my bed.  Another wine tour first.

Andrew Barrow

50 Great Cavas Media Tour Round-up Day 2 – Mas Codina, Llopart & Cuscó Berga

50 Great Cavas 2014Although the day began foggy, we were treated to some great winery experiences and Cava tastings in Catalonia on Tuesday.

Mas Codina

Leaving the Sol I VI hotel and restaurant at 9am and after a half hour ride we reached Mas Codina winery in Puigdàlber where we were warmly welcomed by the newest generation, Tony and Imma. When we arrived the morning fog was gently kissing the vines in the vineyards.

Mas Codina 50 Great Cavas 2014Mas Codina has 40 hectares with grape varieties including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat, Macabeu, Xarel-lo and Parellada. Ninety percent of the grapes are hand harvested. The soil in the vineyards is a blend of clay and limestone. Grapes are usually harvested between August and mid-September.

Mas Codina Key Points:

  • Mas Codina produces still wines and Cavas. Vineyards are designated for each type.
  • Each grape variety is fermented separately.
  • White wines are fermented at 17 degrees Celsius.
  • The owners find there is a tendency to use the grapes from the oldest vineyards for producing Cavas.
  • Each year Mas Codina releases between 80,000 and 90,000 bottles of Cava. Total production is 120,000 bottles each year.

Wine Tasting at Mas Codina

We had a fun and delightful Cava tasting at Mas Codina. The first three tastings were with wine bases that will ultimately be used for producing Cavas. They all offered varying amounts of citrus especially grapefruit notes. We then tasted three of the 50 Great Cavas including Brut Reserva, Brut Nature Reserva and Brut Nature Gran Reserva. Too soon it was time to travel on to our next winery.

Llopart Winery

Llopart 50 Great CavasWe traveled to Llopart Winery in Subirats for a tour, tasting and a Catalonian-style lunch. By the time we arrived at Llopart, the fog had dissipated and we enjoyed the brilliant sunshine. Llopart has a long history with vineyards established in the 1300s. It was in 1887 that Llopart began producing Cavas.

The vibrant granddaughter of the original owners and producers of Llopart’s Cavas took us on an extensive tour. We walked from the newer section of the winery uphill to the older section that houses old cellars filled with centuries old tools as well as cellars filled with Cavas. After walking through the large wine cellar, we arrived in a room arranged for our lunch. During lunch we tasted several Llopart wines and noticed Llopart has a long history with vineyards establish in the 1300s. It was in 1887 that Llopart began producing Cavas. Visitors to the winery will discover a small vineyard library in front of the winery with examples of several grapevine varieties including: Macabeo, Xarel-lo, Parellada, Chardonnay, Muscat, Monastrell, Garnache and Pinot Noir. The average age of the vineyards is 35 years. Sixty percent of the vineyards are head pruned.

After the tour we were treated to a special lunch of numerous tapas. They included

Escalivada, Foie gras bread with foie gras. Mushroom tart, Pastel de atun, Blini de salmon, Pan com tomate y jamon bread with thin slice of meat, Brandade de bacalao, and Coca de seats y butifarra. Included with the tasty tapas we enjoyed several of the Llopart Cavas.

Cuscó Berga

Cusco i Berga 50 Great CavasOur last winery for the day was Cuscó Berga winery where we participated in a most unique tour of some of the winery’s vineyards. We enjoyed Cava tastings during the tour again while enjoying a delicious homemade created dinner.

The Cuscó Berga vineyards are not located near the winery that is at the top of a hill in a village. Rather the vineyards are located deep in a valley. We stopped at one old vineyard that is to be replanted. It was rather sad that such old vines couldn’t be brought back to healthy grape production. Later on the bumpy trail we saw an old stone hut. Stopping by we discovered a doorway in the hut. This stone hut was built by the brothers’ grandfather to shield vineyard workers from severe weather. Our small group entered the hut and enjoyed tasting Cavas in the unusual ambiance of a stone hut.

Cusco Berga 50 Great CavasReturning to the winery we enjoyed a delightful pasta-style dinner preceded by nibbles of potato chips, nuts and olives. Dessert was chocolate covered balls topped with whip cream.

Tuesday we stayed at the Barcelona Golf Hotel. The hotel is spacious including large individual rooms. The resort hotel is located about 20 minutes from El Prat airport and 30 minutes from Barcelona. The hotel offers an array of different spa services including a wine spa.

Here’s what’s coming for the 50 Great Cavas Media Tour on Wednesday, October 8.

VINSEUM, Museu de les Cultures del Vi de Catalunya (We will also taste Cavas from Mascaró winery.) Juve & Camps winery A visit to the Consejo Regulador del Cava The day will end at Cal Jafra.

Here is to looking to another great day on Wednesday!

50 Great Cavas Media Tour Round-up Day 1 – Sol i Vi i #Cava

50 Great Cava places to stay  - Sol i ViThe 50 Great Cavas media team arrived in the Penedés wine region on Monday. We checked in to the hotel Sol i Vi in mid-afternoon. From the hotel we visited Andernats for a winery visit, wine tasting and evening dinner.

Hotel Sol i Vi 

Hotel Sol i Vi is a hotel surrounded by vineyards. The onsite restaurant has several sections and is suitable for meetings, receptions and weddings. They can seat more than 1,000 people. The restaurant has an impressive wine list with over 60 Cavas and 70 wines from the Penedés DO. Miquel Gisbert commented that they encourage patrons to try the Penedés DO wines or the Cava DO wines. There are also wines from other areas of Catalonia, other Spanish wine regions and France. Miquel smiles and said, “Our Cavas are better.” Have a glass of Cava as you scan the list of wines.

Sol i vi 60 great cavasHotel Sol i Vi rooms are comfortable and furnished with sturdy country farmhouse-like furniture. One wall in our room had a blue and white mural of a grape harvest. It depicted vineyard workers with full baskets of grapes and other workers still harvesting grapes from the vines. As we looked out the sliding glass door, we saw vineyards in the distance. You get the feeling that you are in wine country.

Andernats Vinícola de Nulles

IAdernats 50 Great Cavas 2014n late afternoon, our media group filled a van and headed to a wine cathedral, Andernats Vinícola de Nulles. In the early 1900s most families in the town of Nulles grew grapes and made wine. After phylloxera destroyed the grape vines in Catalonia, the inhabitants decided it would be better to work together than separately. The towns people started by cooperative in 1917. The group hired César Martinell, a modernista architect known for designing wineries that were cathedral-like. The winery building was started in 1919 and completed in time of the first crush of 1920.

Adernats 1We started our visit with a Cava Reserva Brut Nature. The refreshing Cava wet our appetite for knowledge and more Cava. We ambled out to the vineyard and leafed that there are 130 partners that grow grapes and sell their grapes to the winery. After our vineyard walk we strolled through the winery. Large vats and tanks filled the cathedral nave. Above the tanks a vats there was another floor and above this level was a vaulted ceiling. The winery did resemble a church.

day 1 roundup d #50gcOur next stop was a tasting of four Cavas. One of the Cavas made the list of 50 Greatest Cavas. We tasted the XC Grand Reserva, a Cava made from 100% Xarel-lo. The wine spent 45 months bottling aging during its bottle fermentation.

Dinner

After climbing a metal staircase with votive candles to illuminate our way, we walked on the top of vats to an area set up for our dinner. The setting was wonderful with brick work surrounding us and the vaulted ceiling above. The dinner consisted of five courses paired with wines. Our third course was special. We were asked to put on blind folds. A wine was place on our plate as well as a food item. In darkness we tasted the wine and ate the food. It was easy to guess that the wine was a Cava. Some in the group correctly identified the Cava as the Reserva Rosat made from the Trepat grape. A little look is worth a thousand finesses. The food items were placed on a skewer and included a cherry tomato, watermelon, pineapple and another cherry tomato. This ended up being rather fun to try to guess what you were drinking and eating while blindfolded.

day 1 round up eThe courses on the menu and wines included:

  1. A tomato and watermelon gazpacho with anchovy
    Essencia
  2. Tartarí de salmón ahumado con cebolla de Figueres y salsa de yogur especiada

            Maridaje sorpresa – Reserva Roast

  1. Meloso de cerdo ibérico con salsa de Ànima
    XC Grand Reserva
  2. Postre Adernats           

Our media group enjoyed visiting Andernats Vinícola de Nulles and it Cavas and wines. The dinner was quite special.

Coming up on day 2 on the 50 Great Cava Media Trip are visits to the Mas Codina winery, visit, tasting and lunch at the Llopart Winery and in the evening visit, tasting & dinner at the Cuscó I Berga winery.  Accommodation Barcelona Golf Hotel

Terry Sullivan, Wine Trail Traveler

Influential Media to Commence 50 Great Cava Tour @Adernats

50 Great Cavas 2014 coverDay One of the 50 Great Cavas Media Tour

October 6 2014 is the start of the 50 Great Cavas Media Tour. We are looking forward to greeting the Media people who are covering this year’s 50 Great Cavas Media Tour.

The group participating in the 50 Great Cavas Media Tour includes: Lara Dunston & Terence Carter from Grantourismo, Andrew Barrow from Spittoon, Marcy Gordon from Come for the Wine and Writing Between the Vines, Terry & Kathy Sullivan from Wine Trail Traveler, Oriol Ripoli and Josep Pizan from Decantalo.

50 Great Cava places to stay  - Sol i ViWe plan to meet everyone at the Hotel Sol i Vi. From there we will travel to Nulles to enjoy a Cava tasting and dinner at Adernats. Following what promises to be a delightful dinner, we are to return to our lodging site at Hotel Sol i Vi. Cava is enjoyable and very food friendly. It will be delightful to learn how the dinner pairs with Cavas.

Adernats 50 Great Cavas 2014
Wine Cathedral Adernats 50 Great Cavas 2014

Tuesday we will be traveling to visit and taste Cavas at the Mas Codina winery  followed by a visit and tasting of Cavas at Llopart Winery.  After visiting and tasting wine at these two wineries we will travel to the Barcelona Golf Hotel  to check in. Later in the day we will travel to Cuscó I Berga winery for a visit including a wine tasting and dinner. Then we will return to the Barcelona Golf Hotel to enjoy the evening and prepare for Wednesday’s winery visits.

 

Needless to say we are looking forward to these visits to wineries of Penedes that feature Cava wines.

Cheers! Kathy Sullivan, Wine Trail Traveler