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>>

Rexach Baqués winery, where carving caves and crafting Cavas go hand-in-hand.

Founded in 1910, this small winery is now run by the founder’s grand daughter, Montse Rexach Peixó, following faithfully in the footsteps of the previous generations to produce up to 150,000 bottles of Cava a year befitting the family name.

Even in the pouring rain, the small, colourful Mediterranean terrace in front of the winery still brightens the day. Upon stepping into the small warehouse, you find yourself surrounded by the giant stainless tanks where the grapes are initially fermented and then mixed. Having been enthusiastically informed about the winery’s rich history, we descended 14m and 100 years back in time to the caves beneath, beginning in the youngest section, and, like some wine-loving Indiana Jones, working our way back to the darkest, earliest parts.

The caves were a real labour of love: in 1910, exploring the best way to produce and store wine, excavation began and a tunnel was created 7m below ground. Dug out by hand, it was a laborious process, but they quickly decided that the temperature was still too much of a victim to the whims of the climate outside, and so the decision was made to continue deeper. Thus, over the next twenty years,the tunnel network that remains in use today, situated 14m below the surface, came into existence. Stretching to well over 1000m in length, it’s a true feat of engineering, given that the founder had no architectural knowledge, and the volta catalana (Catalan arch) construction they employed is still standing strong today, even with houses having been built above some sections. One of the most fascinating quirks is that those digging away 14m down had very little idea of where they actually were in relation to what lay above. Therefore, periodically, they would come up to the surface to investigate, and they worked to buy the land above them as they went, hence the current location of the winery itself, and the vineyard.

The tunnel’s distance beneath the surface means a steady 14.5° day and night, summer and winter – especially important for Rexach Baqués, given that they significantly age all of their Cavas, with their most exclusive line maturing for seven years, this consistency of darkness and temperature allows the Cava’s colour and taste to be carefully preserved. Unlike at many modern Cava producers, the riddling process is still carried out by hand down in these caves, the bottles being expertly turned and stored in traditional wooden riddling racks.

In their day, the caves played also another important role – during the Spanish civil war, they were used as a refuge from the fighting above, and in fact some of the previous generation of the family were even born right there below ground. There might not have been much to eat, but at least they never went short of a good drink!

Arriving in the earliest tunnels, you come upon several racks of bottles barely visible beneath deep layers of spiders’ webs and dust, and discover that many have been here for upwards of a hundred years. Due to the temperature varying too much in this shallower cave, it’s not actively used today, so instead they keep some original bottles (still full) as a nod to their history and the labour of 100 years prior. In some of the corners of the cellar you can also see bottles stacked upside-down, a practice borne out of necessity, as the dampness of the caves caused many of the wooden riddling racks to disintegrate, the corner of the cellar providing an alternative vertical storage place.

From there, it was up the stairs and back to the future, and the cutting-edge machines used for disgorgement, dosage and cleaning and labelling the bottles ready for public sale. It is here where all the final touches are completed, balancing the levels, adjusting the sugars, adding a dash of Pinot Noir to their most exclusive bottles for extra structure and balance, to ensure all the Cava produced is to their exacting standards.

Thus the greatest treat was reserved for last, in a room full of intriguing pieces from the family’s history: the tasting. Rexach Baqués produce just a few different types of Cava each year, and generally in restricted quantities just as demand dictates, so nothing is left lying around to lose its quality – everything completes its aging process and is then rapidly distributed to keep it as fresh as possible. Under the understandably proud gaze of Montse, the sensations of the velvety bubbles, the delicate balance of sweetness and acidity, the note of chocolate here and buttery pastry there let you know you’re drinking pure gold – something crafted with love and a significant dose of family history and know-how.

Tasting Note:

Brut Imperial 2016 (Brut Reserva)

Notes of ripe stone fruit with pastry characters. Ripe apples on the palate. Well balanced and firm. Elegant bubble. Generous length on the finish.

Expected to be one of the 50 Great Cavas for 2019!

Tim Hall
Travel Blog Writer>>
Photos: Jethro Swift

Bubbles of Gold: Wine Pleasures announces the 50 Great Cavas for 2018

4 December 2017

Yet 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 2018.

Freixenet Casa Sala 2007 wins the competition with Gold and receives a score of 98 points has been classified as Exceptional.  Also with Gold and classified as Exceptional with 97 points is Celler Vell Brut Nature Reserva 2014

Still in the Gold medal category and classified as Outstanding (96 & 95 pts) are the following Cavas: Ramón Canals Reserva Numerada 2013, Duran 5V Gran Reserva 2012 & Ramón Canals Gran Reserva Limitada 2011 (Ramón Canals Canals), Adernats XC 2013 (Adernats) Castellroig Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2013 & Sabaté I Coca Josep Coca Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2011 (Castellroig), Cossentania Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2011 (Castell d’Or), Cava Reyes de Aragón Gran Reserva 2010 (Bodegas Langa), Rovellats Gran Reserva Masia Segle XV Brut Nature 2008 (Rovellats), Nuria Claverol Homenatge 2013 (Sumarroca), Gramona Imperial Brut Gran Reserva 2011 & Gramona Celler Batllé 2006 (Gramona). Outstanding Rosé is the Vega Medien Rosé 2015 by UVESTE.

23 Cavas classified as Highly Recommended were awarded Silver medals. 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 €4,50 to €50 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 Agustí Torelló –  kripta Gran Añada 2008 (96 months), RRP €47 & Gramona – Celler Battlé Brut Gran Reserva 2006 (120 months), RRP €50.

The results of the 2018 edition of annual competition 50 Great Cavas can be viewed at http://www.winepleasures.com/50-great-cavas-2018 and contains all the Gold and Silver medal winners with photos and tasting notes for each. 50 Great Cavas 2018 is a useful resource for both the trade and the end wine consumer/wine traveller.

Gran Reserva 2004 Brut Nature Magnum – the pride of Montesquius Cava

A patchwork quilt of vineyards greets you as you wind your way down the 2 lane road the leads to the small town of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia.  Off in the distance, you see the silhouette of the jagged mountains, and as you get closer to Cellers Most Doré (producing Cava under the brand name of Montesquius), the mountains become real as you can make out the details of trees and rugged rocks. A quick walk to the front doors from the car park leads you to a modern chic tasting room hugged by a large brick archway, which acts as the focal point in the room. In addition to a long tasting bar, chic old barrels have been painted white, and act as tables for tastings.

Founded in 1918, Montesquius has changed ownership a few times, but is currently owned by five workers who bought back the company in 2013.  Due to the change of ownership, and business structure of the larger organization who purchased the company in the 1990’s, the company decided to only keep 4 important hectors.  The rest of the grapes used in Montesquius wines are purchased from 720 farmers, who are empowered to farm their land, make their own decisions, and grow the best grapes they can.

The company has a wide range of products, from entry level wines to premium.  Montesquius makes DO Cava, DO Penedes still wines, and DO Catalonia still wines.  In addition to utilizing the traditional 3 grape Cava blend, Montesquius also uses Chardonnay in many of the Cavas.  A focus on long-aging Cavas continues to excite the two winemakers, and an interest premium Rosados is also a fun and unique project.

The underground cava is quite extensive.  Four floors deep, covering over 6 kilometers, it houses, on average, 6 million bottles of Cava, as the specialty is long-aging Cava.  The company prides itself on a quality and personal touch.  Because of this, the Cava bottles are inspected and hand-stacked for aging, in the cold, humid cave. The temperature stays between 16-17 degrees Celsius all year, and the oldest part of the cave was hand-carved about 100 years ago. Not only is this better for the wine, but it also provides more jobs to the local community, something that is very important to the owners.  They employee about 50 people at this site.  And, they understand the dependence of the business on the community, and the community on the business.  Without one, neither would be successful.

2017 sees the Montesquius Cava amongst the 50 Great Cavas for the first time. 50 Great Cavas is a unique and annual competition only for Cava produced under the rules and regulations of the DO Cava.

Montesquius Gran Reserva 2004 Brut Nature Magnum (94 pts 50 Great Cavas) – A very complex Brut Nature Gran Reserva. Roasted nuts, damp earth and orange peel on the nose. Complex in the mouth , long and citric.

Robert J Mur Millesimé 2012 Reserva Brut Nature (93 pts 50 Great Cavas) – Quite floral and musky on the nose with a hint of red fruit character.

Source 50 Great Cavas 2017>>

Montesquius Gran Reserva 2004 Brut Nature Magnum also won a prize competing with sparkling wine producers from around the world in the annual competition 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World obtaining a gold medal with 95 pts!

Torelló, amongst the 50 Great Cavas for 2017

The Torelló estate dates all the way back to the 14th century shown by a document dated the 17th of June, 1395. Throughout the years the name has changed through marriages but today it remains the original Torelló name which is the 22nd generation on this estate. Finca Can Marti, as it is also called, occupies 135 hectares; 80 of which are strictly for grape vines. They first produced Cava in 1951 and have been producing high quality wines ever since.

The great-grandfather of the current operator Ernestina Torelló helped replant the vines in Penedès that were destroyed in the devastating phylloxera plague that lasted until the end of the 19th century. There is a monument in the council square and even a street honoring him in the town of Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, Penedes. There is now a two day festival in September celebrating the end of this terrible disease where Cava, music, and traditional food takes place. Be sure to wear the color yellow!

When you first arrive to the Torelló estate you drive down a long windy driveway lined with olive trees and vineyards. The 439 olive trees on this estate are centuries old and are still producing olives used to produce bottles of their own olive oil. There are two main buildings on this estate both of which are from the Medieval ages. The upper house called the Can Marti De Dalt is the agriculture center whereas the Can Marti de Baix, the lower house, is the center of the cellar and where the installations are situated.

Here in the Alt Penedes they grow the Macabeo, Xarel.lo, Parellada, Malvasia, Chardonnay, and Muscat white grape varieties, as well as Garnacha, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Syrah red types. No grapes are imported from other areas to make the wines here at Torelló. The Cavas and wines at this winery are produced with one main objective: the strict and passionate care of the vines and grapes on the Can Marti estate.

When you begin your tour you follow your guide throughout the process of wine making where you can see they still harvest and sort through the grapes by hand. You’ll learn about disgorgement, the bottling process, and you will also understand the different ageing processes and times. You’re then brought up to the upper level looking over the pool and courtyard where you get a stunning view of the estate and the perfect backdrop.

Then you are taken to part of the family’s house where your guide will show you the original family document dating from 1395 protected in a frame hanging on the wall. It is written in old Catalan and Latin since those were the languages back then. Be sure to look at the bride’s box and the antique secretaire chest. Both were used in the family in the past and have incredible history.

The passion for quality is very prevalent when visiting this winery. You’ll quickly learn that the winemakers here at Torello prefer more complex and mature styles of Cava and still wine. They say that the bubbles should be in your cheeks more than anywhere else when you take a sip which makes it perfect for summer, celebrating, or just when you want to have a high quality glass of wine.

2017 sees the Torellló Cava amongst the 50 Great Cavas for the first time. 50 Great Cavas is a unique and annual competition only for Cava produced under the rules and regulations of the DO Cava.

Cava Torelló 225 Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2010 (94 pts)  – A classic Brut Nature Gran Reserva. Fine bubble and mousse with clean yellow straw appearance. Complex toasty notes on the nose, slightly earthy, long and fine.

Special Edition Brut Reserva 2011 (92 pts) – Fine creamy bubbles and mousse. Baked apples, quince and vanilla character follows through from the nose to the palate. Crisp and precise wine.

Source 50 Great Cavas 2017>>

Great Cava with Indigenous Grape, Trepat by Carles Andreu

Low seated bush vines separated by fields of golden wheat follow the rolling hills within the basin of the small county of Conca de Barbara in the town of Pira, 115 km northwest of Barcelona.  As you approach Celler Carles Andreu, you feel the serenity of the crater.  Isolated from the rest of Spain, with its own unique weather conditions and soil, Conca de Barbara is the perfect setting for the Trepat grape to thrive. The oldest vineyards, planted by the grandfather of the family, are over 80 years old; the second oldest Trepat vines in Conca de Barbara.

Today, the family owns about ninety hectares of vineyards in the Conca de Barberà county, where they mainly grow the traditional grape varieties in this region (Macabeo, Parellada and Trepat).  The largest vineyard is only 6 hectares, allowing for more diversity in the vineyards.

The vineyards extend across the municipalities of Pira, Forès, Sarral, Solivella, Barberà de la Conca and Montblanc. After decades of growing grapes, in 1991, Carles Andreu established the bodega that still bears his name today. A small bodega housed in the old manor house of Cal Celdonitakes advantage of the space where wine used to be fermented many years ago, respecting the facings and architectural shapes of the house, which was built in 1796.

The Andreu family has long respected tradition, and only produces wine with 1/3 of their grapes.  The remaining 2/3 are sent to the local co-opp in order to better support the region. From the 1920’s to around 1985 there was no private production in this area.  Then, in 1985, Bernat’s father began making Cava.  In his first year, he produced 4,000 bottles.  Now, the Andreu family is responsible for the production of about 140,000 bottle.  All 250,000 kilos of Andreu family wine grapes are hand-picked.  The remaining 750,000 kilos are machine harvested and sent to the local co-opp.  And, during harvest you will be sure to find Bernat’s father (55 years young) still active in the vineyard.

The star grape, Trepat, is local to this region.  With a total of 1,000 hectares of in Conca de Barbara, Trepat accounts for about 20% of the total wine production in Conca de Barbara; not to mention, 90% of the world’s Trepat is grown here. The weather in Conca de Barbara is very supportive to the needs to Trepat.  They are not coastal, need lots of sun during the day and cool nights.  At 400 meters above sea level, this crater seems to be the nursery the Trepat grape needs in order to thrive. Although the Trepat grape has a dark skin, the sugar concentration is more similar to a white grape, and even during cold and dry years, they are still able to produce.  The sugar content in this late ripening grape is ideal for Cava (as well as a beautiful red), with good acidity and low tannin.

Although both the building and family tradition date back centuries, the Andreu family has embraced technology in order to increase the standard of their final product.  In 2002, construction began on a tunnel and two cellars.  Two years later, the project was completed, and if you’re lucky enough to get a tour, you will see the tail end of the Cava process in the dark, cool caves under the front vineyard.  This is where the family allows the Cava to take its time and age gracefully.  You cannot rush a good thing, and the family embraces this slogan.  Many of the Cavas are aged well past the required number of months for the Reserva and Gran Reserva categories, allowing consumers to enjoy a superior product. Indeed Carles Andreu has 3 Cavas amongst the 50 Great Cavas 2017 which are as follows:

Carles Andreu Reserva Barrica 2012 A very distinctive style with notes of vanilla and spice on the nose. The palate has fine bubbles & a very attractive forward fruit style with notes of preserved lemons & a long salty finish.
Cava Rosat Brut Carles Andreu 2013 A toasty style with more lees ageing evident on the nose. Tart, crisp acidity, ripe strawberry fruit, long & salty.
Cava Brut Nature Carles Andreu 2013 More notes of time spent  on lees – toasted bread, brioche, honey and roasted nuts. Complex, crisp & fresh but with a real depth of ripe peach fruit character & a long finish. Stands out from the crowd.

Source 50 Great Cavas 2017>>

Castellroig Cava & Wine Tourism Penedès (Barcelona)

In the heart of the Penedès wine region, you’ll find Castellroig.  A family, rich with historic value has spent generations perfecting wine and collecting an impressive and extensive collection of wine making and other historic tools and artifacts that would challenge most wine museums.  You begin your visit by taking a journey through time.  Walking via the path through history, you’ll find vintage ploughs, pumps, pottery, barrels, carts, and other old wine making tools.  The rust of the metal, and wear on the pottery allow you to imagine how it used to be.  After your leisurely stroll along the path through time, you come upon a serene sitting area and some beautiful views.  As you look down and out, you see cliffs of stone to your left, meticulous rows of vines below, and in the distance, row after row, plot after plot of vines.  In the far distance, you can see the mountains and gain a better understanding of the how the land and its surroundings contribute to the vines and the terroir.

Once you have filled your eyes with the beautiful views of the natural surroundings, take a stroll down the stairs and make your way under the archway of grapevines back to the main building.  Here, you will find more history, as well as the wine.  Before you jump into tasting, Castellroig offers a very educational tour of the museum’s interior.  Room after room, you will find another slice of history.  A 3,000 piece vintage key collection, old fermentation vats which were used in the 18th century to stomp grapes from above, more pottery, old 1,000 litre barrels, and more.  For decades, Marcel (the grandfather) has been collecting pieces to add to the collection, as he continues to do today.  As you make your way through the maze of rooms, you come upon an old chapel, which Castellroig has dedicated to Sabaté i Coca Gran Reserva Magnum 2006 and Robert Parker (a famous US wine critic), who rated this vintage 93 points, and put Castellroig on the international wine map.  Since then greater fame has been achieved with 3 Catellroig Cavas amongst the 50 Great Cavas 2017 namely Castellroig Brut Nature Reserva 2012 (95 pts), Sabaté I Coca Reserva Familiar 2008 (93 pts) & Castellroig Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2010 (92 pts) Lastly, you walk through a large oak barrel and as you come out the other side, you see where history meets present day technology: the fermentation room.  Now, the winery prefers to utilize large stainless steel ferment tanks and other modern technology, but you cannot forget the past.

Although the family has embraced technology, they have kept some of the traditional wine-making and viticulture techniques.  The family’s ecological perspective encourages them to avoid irrigation and to hand-harvest all grapes.  In addition, they soft press the first 60% of the juice and sell the remaining 40%, in order to ensure quality.

The family is from the Riudebitlles Valley, and has been growing grapes for four generations.  Prior to the establishment of the label in 1985, the family, similar to others in this region, sold its grapes to a larger company.  After finishing his studies in enology and agricultural engineering, Marcel completed his first vintage in 1986 using some of the grapes, normally sold to a large wine making company.  Because he chose to begin making his own wine, the company cancelled the contract to buy grapes, and Marcel was forced to produce wine using all of this family’s grapes.  The family quickly bought this cellar, made it their own, and began making quality wine with the family’s vineyards.  The vineyards date back to 1914, with the oldest vines being Xarel-lo.

To view 50 Great Cavas 2017 by Wine Pleasures please click on the image below:

Deliciously Catalunya! Wine Pleasures Wine Buying Tour

The 2017 Wine Pleasures Buying Tour programme (part of the Wine Pleasures B2B Workshop Buyer meets Cellar in Spain annual event) for Wine Importers in Spain was a great success. A whole year of planning resulted in a truly memorable buying tour for all involved.

20 wine importers from diverse markets such as Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Panama, Slovakia, Sweden, UK and the USA, extended their stay to participate in the Wine Pleasures Buying Tour programme with visits to Clos Montblanc (Conca de Barberà), Agustí Torelló (Cava), Mas Blanch i Jové (Costers del Segre), Carles Andreu (Conca de Barberà & Cava) and Can Feixes (Penedès). Emphasis was placed on boutique wines produced in unique terroirs made with indigenous grape varieties such as Macabeo, Malavasia de Sitges, Sumoll, Trepat, Parellada and Xarel.lo. Two of the Cava producers visited have Cavas amongst the 50 Great Cavas 2017

Catalunya was also enjoyed through its cuisine. Here are some of the highlights of the two day intensive programme of visits:

Next up will be the International Wine Tourism Conference in Sicily:

Next Wine Pleasures B2B Workshop will be in Italy later this year:


The Wine Pleasures team

Nastl Riesling Sparkles in Austria’s Langenlois

The Nastl winery is a celebrated winery in the Kamptal area of Austria, in the lovely town of Langenlois.  They are a particularly well-known producer of the Grüner Veltliner in Austria.  Due to the specialization of this grape, they are able to offer five different types of wines made from Grüner Veltliner grown in their own vineyards.

Nastl Riesling Sekt 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the WorldThe tradition of winemaking in the Nastl family dates back to as early as 1656.  For nearly 400 years, the Nastl family has been creating wines of outstanding quality in Austria.  The heads of the family today are Günter and Renate.  They, alongside their children Christian, Alexander and Petra, have taken the winemaking to a whole new level of excellence.  The entire family exudes special passion for food and wine.

Nastl Riesling Sekt 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the WorldAfter nearly two decades of growing grapes and wine making, the family decided that it was time for a new cellar.  The idea was to combine the typical underground cellar, which is carved deeply into the loess beneath the winery, with a new cellar that can meet all the requirements for state-of-the-art winemaking.  It was in 2003 that the new cellar was inaugurated with the first harvest.  The three level cellar is a marriage of four hundred years of wine making tradition and more efficient modern wine making techniques.

Nastl Riesling Sekt 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the WorldLangenlois, hometown of the Nastl family, is the biggest wine town in Austria.  Situated in the romantic Kamptal region of Lower Austria, only 70 km northwest of Vienna.  The landscape is a picturesque expanse of rivers and rolling hills dotted with castles, manors and wineries. The name of this region comes from the river Kamp, which flows through this area and lends special qualities to the terroir here.

Nastl Riesling Sekt 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the WorldThis area is famous for not only the aforementioned Grüner Veltliner, but also Riesling and Muskateller (also known as Muscat Ottonel).  The terroir is perfect for these grape varietals. The sandstone slopes are very steep, so only a thin layer of soil is retained, and exposure to the sun is high.  Riesling thrives on steep slopes such as these.  The micro-climate and soils are perfect for growing grapes to create delicate and refreshing wines.  The atmospheric conditions allow an interplay between hot days and cool nights, and the terroir is mainly rock, silt and loess.  These are some of the factors that impart lively aromas, subtle fruit, complexity and bright acidity to the wine.

The Nastl family not only produce some of the most remarkable wines of the area, they have also run a special restaurant, known as the Heuriger, for over 40 years!  This luminous, cozy space is nestled in a grove of walnut trees near the Nastl winery.  The restaurant is open for a few weeks at a time, only three times per year (April, August and October); to offer carefully selected pairings of traditional Austrian cuisine with their exquisite wine.  They also host tastings and special events.

The Nastl winery offers tours and tastings, and reservations must be made in advance directly through the winery.

Nastl has the following sparkling wine amongst the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016>>

Riesling Sekt (Silver medal with 93 pts) Mango, papaya, candied fruit and melon with hints of flowers. Palate is medium bodied and fruity, boasting a great seam of acidity. Youthful. Front Cover 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016