50 Great Cavas – a Wine Pleasures visit to Cuscó Berga

Cusco i Berga 4The Cuscó i Esteve family have been producing cavas and wines since as long ago as the end of the nineteenth century. In 1985 Josep Cuscó Berga together with his sons gave the winery new clothes and created a modern winery without losing the family tradition

Located in the small village of Les Gunyoles d’Avinyonet, in Spain’s Penedès wine region, the Cuscó I Berga winery is well worth a visit. Driving up to the village you will see the Saint Salvador Church de les Gunyoles on the skyline. Built in the 10th Century and home to the Templars in 1160, this church is well worth a stop off before visiting the winery.

Cusco i Berga 2Once at the winery the first thing to head for is the small wine museum housed in the top (ground) floor. Breathtaking panoramic views of the vineyards await. The vineyards are actually growing on a terroir not really typically associated with the Penedès. – we are in the natural park of the Garraf Massif (Catalan: Massís del Garraf, ) which is a mountain range running from the Mediterranean. This rugged limestone terroir is ideal for keeping healthy vines and for organic viticulture. Cuscó I Berga have a Cava which is produced from certified organic grapes!

A trip into the underground cellar will reveal that the winery is built mostly using the side of a rock outcrop. You can see natural limestone rock as part of the construction and this gives the cavas a constant temperature and humidity for ageing on the lees.

As well as tasting the cavas make sure you ask them for a taste of a unique still wine they produce made with 100% Muscat D’Alexandrie.

50 Great Cavas Cusco BergaTasting Notes from 50 Great Cavas 2014

Brut Nature Reserva Tradició 2008 – Straw yellow. Ripe pears & hints of almonds. Fruity & fresh. Lingering acidic finish. Complex! 62 months ageing!

Brut Nature Reserva Ecológic 2011 – Green apples. Citric notes. Fresh crisp entrance. Notable but pleasant acidity. Subtle citric flavours. Pleasant mouth feel. 26 months ageing

Brut Gran Reserva 2009 – Citric notes (pineapple), hints of fennel & underlying nutty notes. Fine bubble. Apricots & albaricoque on the palate.Lingering finish. 62 months ageing


50 Great Cavas – a Wine Pleasures visit to Vinicola de Nulles (Adernats)

50 Great Cavas AdernatsAn Art Nouveau Wine Cathedral. 1920 marks the first year of harvest that filled Vinícola de Nulles’ cellars. Today, the winery exports approximately 200,000 bottles of cava and 100,000 bottles of wine worldwide under the brand name Adernats.

Lovers of art and architecture will want to marvel this winery designed by Catalonian architect Cèsar Martinell i Brunet. Brunet, a disciple of the legendary Antoni Gaudí, made a name for himself by designing seven wine cellars scattered throughout Catalonia. Myriad resemblances exist among these septuplets, romantically referred to as the ‘wine cathedrals.’ Brunet derived inspiration from Modernisme and Noucentisme, the latter a Catalan cultural movement born in the early 20th century. With their modern contours and facades built of exposed brick, the ‘wine cathedrals’ emanate a rustic quality with high sophistication.

50 Great Cavas AdernatsVinícola de Nulles’s functionality matches up to its beauty. High windows allow sunlight to stream in, thus filling the building with friendly warmth while also decreasing dependency on electricity. The colossal wine tanks occupying most of the building were designed to maintain constant temperatures vital to cava quality. Moreover, the brick arches upon which the wine tanks were built help promote airflow to dissipate carbon dioxide buildup in Vinícola’s cavas.

“Cava is alive,” mused Francesc Boronat, Sales Manager at Vinícola de Nulles. “It must be treated with respect.” Boronat heralds Vinícola’s architecture, which truly maximizes the quality of their product. Given the winery’s specialized design, it isn’t surprising that 50 Great Cavas AdernatsVinícola produces some of the region’s 50 Great Cavas.

While not all of the seven ‘wine cathedrals’ are open to the public, Vinícola de Nulles keeps its doors open. Tours are conducted in the town’s landmark building by day, and under the cover of night, the buildingtransforms into a site for festivities. While the term ‘fine dining’ might conjure the image of stiff and pompous dinners, ViNitCultura Nulles couldn’t be more different. Guests can look forward to live entertainment by Catalan folk musicians, fun games, and locally inspired cuisine, not forgetting cava grown and produced on Vinícola del Nulles’ land.

Read or download the ‘50 Great Cavas publication here>>.

50 Great Cavas is on Facebook and Twitter @50greatcavas #cava #50gc

Interested in the 50 Great Cava Wine Tasting Tour here>>.

Discover more about the Wine Cathedrals of Catalunya at Wine Cathedrals – Catedrals del vi

50 Great Cavas – a Wine Pleasures visit to Mas Codina

Mas Codina: 50 Great CavasThree Generations of Grape Growers – Meeting the makers behind Mas Codina, a ‘50 Great Cava’ producer. 

On a cloudless day, Mas Codina’s vineyard offers clear views of Montserrat’s mysterious peaks. Toni and Imma Garriga, the husband-and-wife team behind Mas Codina, stand next to me in respectful silence as we soak in the view. The experience is almost holy.

Mas Codina 50 Great CavasLocated in Puigdàlber in the Penedès wine region, Mas Codina enjoys a microclimate suitable for viticulture. The Garriga family has been growing grapes for three generations, but it wasn’t until 1985 that Toni’s father, Antoni Garrega, initiated bottling. Few other cavas can claim utilizing grapes from their own vineyards as many producers acquire base wine or grapes from outside sources.

Buzzing bees hover close by. When he’s not tending to four varieties of grapes – Macabeo, Xarel.lo, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir, Toni indulges in beekeeping.

Mas Codina 50 Great CavasHistory and Modernity

The Garriga family’s close ties with Mother Nature carry over to their family business.

“This year, we have started on organic wines to be more respectful to the environment,” said Toni. “Thankfully, it is much easier to kick off new endeavors owing to the wider range of products available in this era.”

He expounds his appreciation of modernity by explaining how steel tanks serve as cleaner containers in contrast with their cement predecessors and wooden barrels.

I am charmed by the juxtaposition of history and modernity at Mas Codina. As we move from the vineyard to the winery, Imma points out a 100-year old wine press in the garden. Inside, I photograph a faded idol of Jesus situated on a ledge above a cutting-edge machine. The stillness of history is punctured by the locomotion of speedy conveyer belts.

Good things take time

Mas Codina takes pride in the maturity of their cavas; their youngest wine is aged for a minimum of 24-months. Time instills complex and creamy undertones in their Bruts and Brut Natures.

Shared Histories

“So your husband’s background lies in wine-making… But what’s your family history?” I ask Imma.

Mas Codina 50 Great CavasA smile spreads across her lips.

“It’s my history now,” she says.

Blood runs thicker than cava. 

Three cavas produced by Mas Codina are in the running for 50 Great Cavas 2014. They are: Mas Codina Cava Brut Reserva 2010, Mas Codina Cava Brut Nature Reserva 2010 & Mas Codina Cava Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2009.

50 Great Cavas Wine Tasting Tour here.

Read or download the ‘50 Great Cavas publication here.

50 Great Cavas 2014 is on Facebook and Twitter @50greatcavas #cava #50gc

Samantha Lim

Time to Toast 50 Great Cavas of 2014

Anticipating the forthcoming cava tasting and publication of 50 Great Cavas 2014.

Ready to raise a glass to the 50 Great Cavas of 2014? The Call for Cavas is well underway with early entries from Agusti TorelloCapita VidalCastell D’orCanals & MunneDominio de la VegaGramona, Pep WinesVallformosaPere VenturaUnión Vinícola del Este to name just a few.

Blind tastings are scheduled for mid-May 2014.

While taste tests chiefly determine cava investments, wine enthusiasts also appreciate a handsome bottle on the shelf. Wineries ought to invest in good product design. While some might argue that form follows function, there’s no denying that we are naturally drawn to aesthetics. Those looking to gift cava to friends and family are also more likely to pick presentable bottles. Here are a handful of this year’s contenders we deem especially eye-catching:

Stay tuned for the publication of 50 Great Cavas 2014.which is expected to be available from 1 July 2014

Check out the 50 Great Cava wine tasting tour here>>

Samantha Lim

30 Great Chapas from 50 Great Cavas 2013

30 Great Chapas 2013Just having released 2013’s 50 Great Cavas this past week, we realize that many of our readers are glass deep in the bubbly liquids themselves, but this week, we want to talk about what is keeping those bubbly liquids bubbly. The culprit is, of course, the perfect trio of cork, cage, and the most important and collectible aspect of all, the chapa. (For those who are unfamiliar with the name, a chapa is the decorative metal top which is part of the wire cage holding the cork down.)

Chapas, while the smallest member of cava bottling and production in size, have been making a big name for themselves in the collecting world for quite some time. Much like baseball cards, collectors swap their chapas back and forth to complete their collections and even shell out big bucks to acquire especially rare or antique chapas. Noticing that chapas go generally uncategorized or noted in the wine world, one particular chapa collector took action, creating an annual, online publication called 30 Great Chapas.

30 Great Chapas 2013When you think of a person who collects cava chapas, you may also expect them to be a person who drinks the cavas themselves. However, if you thought this about the creator of 30 Great Chapas, you would be quite wrong. Jethro Swift, while a very experienced collector with over 600 small metal specimens in his personal collection, has never had one sip of cava. This fact isn’t due to a dislike for cava, but more of an inability to have an opinion on the beverage as he is only twelve years old.

Although Jethro has been busy swimming, biking, building legos, and enjoying his vacation from school this summer, he took a portion of his time off to judge these chapas and answer a few questions about the process.

WP: So Jethro, what do you think of this year’s chapas?

Jethro: “They’re much better than the chapas I judged last year. The pictures are much more interesting and a lot of different colours were used. I think some of the wineries must have read my book!”

WP: That’s great! How can you tell?

Jethro: “Some of the wineries, especially the one that had four chapas in the top five, had very boring chapas with just a plain logo on them last year. This year, look at them! They have a lot of colour and very unique pictures just like I suggested.”

30 Great Chapas 2013WP: They really did up their game. Did all of the new styles of chapas make it more difficult to judge this year?

Jethro: Yeah, it took a lot longer to judge them. I think I spent over 12 hours looking them over and adding up the points.”

WP: What is the point system that you created for judging the chapas?

Jethro: “Each chapa can earn up to 10 points. 1-3 points for colour, 1-3 points for design, and 1-4 points for attractiveness.”

WP: So how did the top ten chapas fair in your point system? Did any chapa get a perfect score this year?

Jethro: “Actually, yes! The top two both got perfect scores and none of the chapas in the top ten scored under 8 points.”

WP: Those are some impressive chapas. Since 30 Great Chapas certainly got some attention last year, what advice would you like to share with wineries for next year?

Jethro: “Stop making the boring, colourless chapas with plain winery names on them. Use more exciting pictures! Also, as I said in my last interview, I’m still waiting for a chapa with a picture of a dinosaur on it…”

30 Great Chapas 2013You heard him, wineries; get those t-rex chapas into production, and you might find yourself in first place of next year’s 30 Great Chapas!

1. Capita Vidal
2. Capita Vidal
3. Mata i Coloma
4. Mata i Coloma
5. Capita Vidal
6. Mascarò
7. Parxet
8. Llopart
9. Castell D’Or
10. Mas Tinell

Laura Murden

Get your free copy of 50 Great Cavas 2013 here>>

50 Great Cavas 2013 Revealed!

50 Great Cavas 2013Since its groundbreaking online conception in 2011, the annual publication of 50 Great Cavas has become a much-anticipated event in the wine world. Prior to this innovative eBook, information and recognition of the sparking Spanish specialty, cava, was extraordinarily difficult to come by. Taking note of this, one particular wine enthusiast and businessman jumped in to fill the cava void.

Anthony Swift editor & judge 50 Great CavasAnthony Swift, though not a Spanish local, was no stranger to the likes of cava. After moving from the UK to Spain, Swift cultivated an enormous interest in the heavily adored and produced wines of his new country.  At last, in 2004, Swift had the brilliance to combine his wine passion with his educational and professional background, creating Penedes based tourism company, Wine Pleasures, which soon grew to be one of the leading wine event & tourism companies in all of Spain and would eventually become the perfect outlet for the first of many online wine publications, namely 50 Great Cavas. Swift proclaims, “Cava didn’t have a name to speak of within the wine community, so this eBook was the perfect way to provide that for both wine lovers and wine professionals.”

Tasting CavaChosen by the most experienced and discerning wine experts, the 50 cavas featured in this book are certainly remarkable. To ensure that the tasting process was fair and honest, the wines were classified and tasted according to dosage and aging time on the lees. This year’s  judging procedure proved to be both difficult and fruitful, as the selection was so exceptional that each and every cava featured scored at least 91 points or above from the panel of experts.

50 Great Cavas LLopartThis third annual publication of 50 Great Cavas not only provides its readers with the top cavas of 2013 and a thorough overview of the wine makers and vineyards from which they come, but also provides an overview of the origin in the Catalonia region, the history of its worldwide growth, and the creation process of the bubbling beauty itself. This makes it the perfect gift to share with both the wine experts and the ever-eager to learn wine enthusiasts in your life.

While the quality of cava this year is notably high, readers will find the prices to be quite the opposite. In fact, while the price of the cavas range from €5 to €40, ninety percent of this year’s selection come in under €20 per bottle, with many coming in under €10 per bottle, making them affordable for any occasion.

Agustí Torelló 50 Grat Cavas Project Wine PleasuresIn the past, one small problem with this publication was giving readers an easy way to taste the cavas listed. As many of the vineyards that produce cava only sell them locally or to very specific surrounding countries in Europe, solely those with the time and means necessary to travel to Spain and the specific wineries within it had the ability to taste all of these noteworthy cavas. Lucky for readers this year, that the third time is the charm, as this is the first year that Wine Pleasure’s 50 Great Cavas has teamed up with Decantalo, an online Spanish wine shop, to bring any and all of the 50 Great Cavas directly to the front of all European door steps, giving customers the opportunity to have a bubbly sip of Spain right in their own homes. Furthermore, Decantalo is anticipating being able to ship each of the 50 Great Cavas to each of the 50 great states in the US as early as October of this year!

Cava tasting Wine TourismAnother October event that Wine Pleasures is anxiously looking forward to is their first blogger -media trip, in which Anthony Swift himself will lead a small team of wine and travel blogger’s through the infamous Catalonian cava country to explore many of this year’s top cava producing wineries. “Our ultimate goal with this trip and, of course, with our publications of 50 Great Cavas is to generate greater awareness and appreciation of cava,” notes Swift, and it is certainly clear that he won’t be slowing down until cava’s rightful place is acknowledged, be it within the beverage menus, wine blogs, or even history books, of the wine world.

Click on the banner to download 50 Great Cavas 2013 and share it with your friends and family!

50 Great Cavas 2013

A Wine Country Bike Tour to 50 Great Cava Producer Rovellats

Penedes wine country bike tourOn a Saturday morning in mid-July we set off on the bike tour to the Rovellats Winery from the High Penedes. Beginning at the Wine Pleasures Estate we got ourselves prepared with the bikes, helmets and support car pulling a trailer with a spare bike and room for more if necessary.

As it was still early it was fairly cool and the sun hadn’t yet broken through the clouds when we started on our way. I am not a frequent cyclist, so I was nervous, but I quickly adjusted to the ride which was along a smooth, car-free road gradually descending and running around the mountain.

Wine country bike tour PenedesThe road was lined with trees and after a while the view from the bike also included the mountain opposite and the valley far below. There we could see a steep limestone gorge below thick greenery on the peak around the buildings of a village. At the far end was a larger and modern building that is used as a sanctuary.

Wine Country bike tourThe sun broke through the clouds soon after creating patterns of light and shade through the leaves of the trees and on the ground ahead of us. The views, along with the wind on our faces and ease of the downhill cycle made it feel more like a relaxing country tour than the challenge I first expected it to be.

Our first stop was to see the way they used to cultivate grapes on the steep mountain; they had created levels, almost like large steps, leading up the side of the mountain. Here they also built a small stone hut, hand built and without mortar. This is a sight frequently found in this region as the winemakers used them to rest and shelter from the elements.

Wine Pleasures wine country bike tourAlthough there used to be a vineyard there, there is no longer any sign of grapes; the vineyards in this region were wiped out by the small insect phylloxera that came over to Europe in the 1850s. This small aphid-like insect was brought over from North America by Victorian botanists who took samples of the American vines. As the phylloxera were native to America, the vines had become at least partially resistant to these pests, but the European wine grape was very susceptible. Since then, this problem has been overcome by using resistant vines and also through the hybridisation of the two different species.

Wine country bike tour Sant Marti SarrocaWe continued on our journey from the High Penedes to the Mid-Penedes. Because there are so many levels in the mountainous region there is a period of almost 2 months for harvesting grapes. Our journey would only take us partway down to the Rovellats Winery and to get there we had to head toward the municipality of Sant Martí Sarroca. Now the land began to flatten out and we could see the land stretching away to either side of us with occasional houses, dogs and tractors amidst the many fields and vineyards.

Nearly at the village we went off road directly through the middle of two vineyards along a path. Now the sun was shining brightly over the landscape creating intense colours; the blue sky, the green fields, the yellow path. Some-time later we reached our first, and only, real cycling challenge: a big hill. I cycled part-way, walked a bit, cycled again and finally crested the peak by foot. Thankfully, the only rises after that were not steep. We then cut through the village and continued along the roads. Shortly after that we reached our destination.

The Winery

Wine Pleasures visits 50 Great Cava producer RovellatsWhen we arrived at the winery the first thing I noticed was the beauty of the location with its statues, fountains, gardens and striking building. The Masia Rovellats (Rovellats farmhouse) experienced an evolution from the first formation of the building in the 10th century to the last in the 15th. What stands today is an impressive combination of different components.

The first section we saw was part of the museum where you can see an old medieval kitchen with features such as a wash basin and an incredible chimney above the fireplace. After this we moved over to the Chapel of the Virgin of Montserrat, which contains an exact replica of the figure which stands in the monastery on the mountain of Montserrat. An ornate little chapel, this place of worship has been used by local residents as a place of worship.

Wine Pleasures visits 50 Great Cava Producer RovellatsAfter this we headed into the main building and began the tour proper of the winery.  Walking through the entrance hall we experienced the first glance of what we would find inside; in glass cabinets we could see wine-related objects and on the walls old posters for the wine and cava produced there.

Wine Pleasures visits 50 Great Cava producer RovellatsWe then started by walking through a corridor with many bottles of wine and also a collection of original, and very old, wine bottling equipment. From there we continued on to the first stage of the production process: the collection of the grapes and de-stemming. The grapes at this winery are all hand-picked so that only the good and ripe grapes are used. Our tour guide emphasised to us the importance of the land and of the grapes themselves.

The first stage of the fermentation process was the next step in a very large room with stainless steel barrels and the second stage Wine Pleasures visits 50 Great Cava producer Rovellatswas within the bottles themselves, so we went downstairs to see the cava fermenting. In my opinion, this was the most exciting part of the winery tour. We slowly descended the stairs behind a locked door as the temperature around rapidly decreased to 15 degrees and the humidity increased to 98 percent. We could see some kind of stalactites beginning to form on the ceiling above us as everything was covered in moisture. The bottles were all stacked up, row after row, along six different corridors all extending from a central point; this building uses an unusual radial structure and is therefore named the ‘Rotunda’. Here each bottle of cava stays for at least 9 months, depending on whether it is a reserve or not, and the sediment inside slowly settles.

Rovellats 50 Great Cavas by Wine PleasuresWe then returned to the warmth of the natural air and witnessed the machinery used to remove the sediment from the bottle, to clean them, stick labels on and seal them with corks. From here we saw a few more examples of posters and photographs of important people who have visited the winery before returning to the main hall. Here we tried some of the excellent cava produced in Rovellats and then went outside into the sunshine to enjoy the gardens. For tasting notes and more info on cava and the Rovellats winery take a look at the free ebook 50 Great Cavas

Freya Holdsworth

Bohigas Present the Perfect Wine Tourism Experience – Velada Tradicional en la Masia

Fermi Bohigas 50 Great Cavas 2013On Tuesday 4 June 2013, 50 Great Cava producer Cavas Bohigas  presented an attractive and unique wine tourism product for tour operators, travel agents, bloggers and traditional media – an evening to discover Catalan culture, wine, food and tradition.

The family owned winery on the outskirts of Ódena (Igualada) has been thriving since the 13th Century, now known as Mas Macia its name has changed several times over the years while being passed from generation to generation of nephews and sons. However the value and appreciation of its heritage has not withered in the slightest which is evident by the continual use of the old cellars and the preservation of the original country house.

50 Great Cava roducer Fermi BohigasThe evening started with a visit to the XIII century farmhouse, Can Macia with special mention of the 1922 chapel (housing some interesting frescoes by the renowned artist Josep Pey i Farriol) built in a neo-Gothic style and dedicated to the Mare de Déu de la Mercè.

The property spans over 200 hectares with the use of 35 hectares of vineyard, the family enjoys the advantages of having these vines grown close by means a quick delivery to the cellars.

I50 Great Cava roducer Fermí Bohigast was in the early 1930´s the history of cava first began at this winery, originally it was produced and sold only in the local region but its success grew from there and as it has since been passed through the family and subject to the innovation of the winemakers along the way. It is now the key to their success, producing over 600,000 bottles a year with 90% of these being exported.

The underground cellar built-in 1547 still to this day functions as the place for these Cavas to undergo the fermentation period required to produce the high quality Reservas and Gran Reservas. The impressive hand-built cellar with its interconnecting tunnels holding 60,000 bottles each is incredible to walk through, appreciating the work that must have been put into such a system un-phased by the years apart from some spider webs hanging from the corners and the damp puddles in the path.

50 Great Cava roducer BohigasA treat for visiting tourists is the interactive activity set up where they can not only see how a Cava was produced by the ancestors of this family but they can create their own, cork, label and all to take home a souvenir. Another truly unique experience is the insight into typical Catalan life from another time, the house in its very design tells a story of the lifestyle lived. The centre of the house a large open space where animals would be herded through, the first floor has the bedrooms to the side where it could be kept the warmest and the third floor used for grinding cereals. Beyond this the house is filled with pieces of intrigue from the dowry cases of the girls in the family to the enormous dinner set with each piece individually hand crafted.

Vetllada Tradicional BohigasAfter a presentation and tasting of 3 of the Bohigas wines  – Bohigas Blanc de Blancs (100% Xarel.lo) Cava  Brut Nature Reserva Noa de Bohigas (50% Xarel.lo & 50% Pinot Noir – 91 points in the 50 Great Cava eBook 2013 – available 1 August 2013) and Bohigas Cabernet Sauvignon – hunger signals started getting to the brain and our table numbers were soon announced – we got lucky table number 13! We were served some of the most representative products of traditional Catalan cuisine by the prestigious Cal Ble restaurant Ebuttidossuch as Coca de vidre amb tomáquet i ganxo d”embotits variats (Bread drizzled in olive oil with a rubbing of tomato and cut yourself a slice of one of the many kinds of cured meats set in the middle of the table), Xatonada, Esqueixada de baccallà. Main course was a Fricandó de vedella amb xaminyons (slow cooked beef served with a gravy of wild mushrooms). Dessert was a variation of the traditional crema catalana served with stewed apples and toffee.

On table 13 the food and wine matching experience was shared with Joan Callís and Carles Picazo of Barcelona Guide Bureau (Guided walking tours of Barcelona), Quim Galan of TierraEvasion (new on the scene in coming agent catering for tourism in the Garrotxa region), Mar Martínez of Abacco Internatiional and Wine Tourism Consultant, Pol Fagés of Turismon

BohigasBeyond just another visit on the wine trail, Mas Macia presents the perfect setting for a holistic Catalan experience, whether it’s a tasting of their Cava stood around a wine barrel in the front garden or for those visiting in the summer they can be treated to a show of traditional dances of Catalonia.

The evening (Velada or Vetllada in Catalan) ended with Bohigasseveral traditional dances unique to specific catalan regions such as Pallars Sobirà, Garrotxa, Maresme and of course the Anoia region where Bohigas is located. A 10 minute break in the mid programme was a chance to try another glass or two of one of the 50 Great Cavas 2013.

Last dance was that love it or hate it Sardana dance where members of the some 100 strong audience were encouraged to join in, which indeed they did!

W:  www.bohigas.es
E.: [email protected]

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

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

50 Great Cava wine tastng tour>>

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 Vindulgeblog.com. 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 .AmericanWineWriter.com and AmericanWinemaker.com 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