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

Media Dream Team to Pop 50 Great Cavas

50 Great Cavas 2014 Media TripA Dream Team  of 6 influential writers and photographers will soon be descending on the Penedès wine region to discover some of the 50 Great Cavas 2014. They will be visiting wineries, matching cavas with local delicacies such as Fideua, Calçotada, Xató del Vendrell, Escalibada con arenque y uva, Cazuela marinera de sepia con albóndigas, Meloso de cerdo ibérico con salsa de Ànima, Bacalao con espinacas a la Catalana y “All i Oli” de miel, Gallo del Penedès con ciruelas y piñones (is your mouth watering yet?)  and taking time out to discover Museums and other places of cultural interest. Accommodation  options in the region will also be tried and tested ranging from romantic rural accommodations to charming 4* accommodation

There will be non-stop Instagramming from the photographers and Tweeting from the writers. Numerous print based articles around the world are expected to feature the 50 Great Cava tour. The Dream Team will also be joined by Oriol Ripoll, Director of Online Wine Shop Decántalo. Follow events on twitter #50gc #cava #penedes #enoturismo

Adernats 50 Great Cavas 2014Monday 6 October

15.30 Arrive & meet Sant Sadurní D’Anoia
16.00 Check in Hotel Sol i Ví
17.00 Transfer to Nulles
18.00 Visit, tasting and dinner in Adernats
22.00 Accommodation Hotel Sol i Ví & free time 

Tuesday 7 October

Mas Codina 50 Great Cavas 201407.00 – 08.30 Breakfast
09.00 Transfer to Puigdàlber
09.30 Visit and tasting at the Mas Codina winery
12.00 Transfer to Subirats
12.30 Visit, tasting and lunch at the Llopart Winery
16.00 Transfer to La Beguda Baixa
16.30 Check in Barcelona Golf Hotel & free time
18.00 Transfer to Avinyonet del Penedès
18.30 Visit, tasting & dinner at the Cuscó I Berga winery
22.00 Accommodation Barcelona Golf Hotel & free time 

Llopart 50 Great Cavas 2014Wednesday 8 October

09.00 Transfer to Vilafranca del Penedès
09.30 Visit of VINSEUM, Museu de les Cultures del Vi de Catalunya
11.00 Cava tasting in VINSEUM by Mascaró
12.00 Transfer to Sant Sadurní D’Anoia
12.30 Visit, tasting and lunch at the Juve i Camps winery
16.00 Transfer to Vilafranca del Penedès
16.30 Presentation & Tasting at the Consejo Regulador del Cava
18.30 Transfer to Llorenç del Penedès
19.00 Check in Cal Jafra & free time
20.00 Dinner in Cal Jafra 

Bohigas 50 Great Cavas 2014Thursday 9 October

09.00 Transfer to Vilanova I El Geltrú
09.30 Visit of the Museu del Ferrocarril de Catalunya
11.00 Cava tasting in the Museu del Ferrocarril de Catalunya by Dominio de Vega
12.00 Transfer to Odenà
12.30 Visit, tasting and lunch at the Bohigas winery
16.00 Transfer to Subirats
16.30 Check in Accommodation Masia Olivera & free time
18.00 Transfer to Vilobí
18.30 Visit, tasting and dinner at the Vallformosa winery
22.00 Accommodation Masia Olivera

Canals i Munné 50 Great Cavas by Wine PleasuresFriday 10 October

09.00 Transfer to Sant Sadurni D’Anoia
09.30 Visit of the Centro de Interpretación de Cava – La Fassina de Can Guineu
10.30 Cava tasting the La Fassina by Celler Vell
11.00 Visit, tasting and lunch at the Canals i Munné winery
15.00 End of Media Trip.

Make sure you get your free copy of 50 Great Cavas 2014  whether you are looking for cava styles to explore, outstanding wineries to visit or professional tasting and reviews it is certainly a must.

Follow the trip as it happens on Twitter @50greatcavas and on Facebook: 50 Great Cavas and feel free to join the conversation.

Meet the Dream Team:

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50 Great Cavas Dream Team of Writers & Photographers Announced

50 Great Cavas LLopartThe quest for 50 Great Cavas 2014 is over and it is once again time to plan for the annual 50 Great Cava Media Trip which will take place from 6 – 10 October 2014. This year we have selected a team of 6 influential writers and photographers. With the Dream Team of writers and photographers most of the world will hear about the 50 Great Cavas, the wineries they are produced in and the regions they are found thanks to the print and digital coverage, plus non-stop Instagramming from the photographers and Tweeting from the writers. The Dream Team will also be joined by Oriol Ripoll, Director of Online Wine Shop Decántalo.

Leading the group will be Wine Pleasures founder Anthony Swift, immersed in the culture of enjoying 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 (in no particular order) to enjoy and share their experiences will be:

Lara Dunston Wine PleasuresLara Dunston

Lara is an established food and travel writer, and she works with her writer-photographer husband, Terence Carter. Their food and travel stories have appeared in magazines, newspapers and websites around the world, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, National Geographic Traveler (UK and US), CNN Travel, Travel+Leisure Asia, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Delicious, Feast, Get Lost, Wanderlust, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Hemispheres, Lifestyle+Travel, Voyeur, Ritz-Carlton magazine, Four Seasons magazine, Bangkok Airways’ Fah Thai, Garuda’s Colours, Qatar Airway’s Oryx, Thai Airways’ Sawasdee, Silk Air magazine, Business Traveller, Executive Traveller and more. They have been writing on food and wine for travellers for over 15 years, covering everything from Australia’s best wine regions and wine routes to wine experiences, wine tours and tasting opportunities in Argentina, South Africa, Hungary, Portugal, and Southeast Asia.

Terence Carter Wine PleasuresTerence Carter

Terence is an established photographer and food and travel writer, and he works with his writer wife Lara Dunston. As well as having his work published in the media outlined in Lara’s profile, Terence undertakes commercial photography assignments for restaurants and is currently developing cookbooks, which he will photograph and co-author with Lara. Terence provides non-stop instagramming during assignments and was named one of the world’s best food Instagrammers.

Terence and Lara also publish a popular travel blog called Grantourismo which is currently #2 in Australia and #51 in the world.

Andrew Barrow 50 Great Cavas Media Group 2015Andrew Barrow

Andrew writes – about wine mainly (tasting notes, food and wine matching, vineyard visits and so on) and take photographs of the same. He has recently become rather a Gin Fiend too and loves covering pop-up bars, more established lounges and is thrilled when covering a decent restaurant. Travel too plays an important part. Spittoon has been online since 2004 and has led, over the years, to various writing gigs (online for AOL, Guardian Word of Mouth, Via Michelin) and is now a regular contributor to Reader Digest Online. There is also the off-line work providing website content, shop tasting notes and book chapters in the likes of Wine Opus. Add in membership of the Circle of Wine Writers [CWW Facebook Page] and he also holds the WSET Diploma. On the photography front a review of his work has led to being awarded the Licentiateship of the Royal Photographic Society, has been nominated for the 2014 Louis Roederer Wine Writer Awards (THE ARTISTRY OF WINE AWARD) and has won the Pink Lady Food Photography of the Year Award specifically the Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year. While not trampling around the fields around my South Oxfordshire home you may find him, champagne in hand, on a train travelling to some exotic destination around Europe. He’ll probably fly home…

Marcy Gordon 50 Great Cava Media TripMarcy Gordon

Marcy Gordon is a freelance Food, Wine, and Travel writer focusing on wine tourism and wine regions around the world. She is a Forbes Travel Guide correspondent and also writes about wine and wine travel for a variety of print publications. She publishes Come for the Wine, a popular blog, for wine and travel enthusiasts. She was recently listed as one to the Top 100 Wine Influencers on Social Media. Her twitter feed is a trusted source for those looking to discover new and interesting wines around the world.

She is the founder and executive director of Writing Between the Vines – Vineyard Retreats for Writers  — a literary arts foundation providing residencies for writers on vineyard estates around the world. The program launched in 2013 and hosted five writers this past year.

Terry Sullivan 50 Great Cavas 2014 Media TripTerry Sullivan

After 34 years in education as an elementary and middle school teacher and university lecturer, Terry began a second career as an author, writer and blogger. The most recent book, Georgia, Sakartvelo: the Birthplace of Wine was published in March 2014. Taking thousands of photographs and writing articles, Terry and his wife Kathy visited and wrote about over 1,000 wineries and vineyards in Europe, North America and Oceania. In 2008 Terry began making wine both at home as well as at wineries in Virginia, Maryland and the country Georgia. Terry has been a presenter at the International Wine Tourism Conference for the past three years in Perugia, Italy, Zagreb, Croatia and Tbilisi, Georgia. He has also presented at the Eastern Winery Exposition in Pennsylvania in 2013.

Kathy Sullivan 50 Great Cavas 2014 Media TripKathy Sullivan

Kathy Sullivan is a writer, author and blogger with a deep passion for the wine industry. She has enjoyed visiting numerous wineries throughout the wine regions of the world including: California, Italy, New Zealand, Canada, Georgia, Croatia and France. Kathy is intrigued with winemaking, the history of wine, the people behind the wine and the wine-food connection. She also makes experimental wines at home and has made wine at a Maryland winery and a Virginia winery. She is the coauthor of three wine books: A Wine Journey, A Wine Tourist’s Guide: Visiting Tasting Rooms and Georgia, Sakartvelo: The Birthplace of Wine. Kathy’s other wine writings are on the Wine Trail Traveler website.

Oriol Ripoll 50 Great Cavas 2014Oriol Ripoll

Barcelona born Oriol is the founder and CEO of the online wine shop, Decántalo Oriol started the company back in September 2010 as a partnership between two professional groups from the sectors of wine and digital projects development, In 2013 Oriol made the bold decision to provide an outlet for the 50 Great Cavas as many of the 50 Greats were not available in the local wine shop. Now the bubble lover can order online and any or all of the 50 Great Cavas delivered to their doorstep anywhere in Europe. Decántalo serve thousands of satisfied customers from more than 50 countries and punctually deliver cavas and wines.

50 Great Cavas 2014 coverTogether the Dream Team of writers & photographers 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 50 Great Cavas 2014  whether you are looking for cava styles to explore, outstanding wineries to visit or professional tasting and reviews it is certainly a must.

Follow the trip as it happens on Twitter @50greatcavas #50gc #cava #Penedes and on Facebook: 50 Great Cavas

Pop That! Alentejo Cartuxa Winery Amongst 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World

Adega Cartuxa 50 Great Sparkling Wines 2014

Adega Cartuxa is located at Quinta de Valbom, the former retreat for the Jesuits who taught at the University of Evora in the 16th and 17 th century. When the monks were expelled in 1759 by the then prime minister, Marquês de Pombal, Cartuxa was taken over by the state. In 1776 it took on a new function as a significant cellar producing wines from the region’s grapes. In the 19th century the property was bought by the family of Eugénio de Almeida who refurbished the winery adding many extensions and planning various modernisations. Despite undergoing all the renovations Adega Cartuxa never lost the feel of its rich history and architecture and preserved its over five century old heritage.

Adega Cartuxa 50 Great Sparkling Wines 2014 2Nowadays the Cartuxa Winery is owned and managed by the Eugénio de Almeida Foundation named after its very generous founder Vasco Maria Eugénio de Almeida. Foundation was set up in 1963 and since then its mission is to promote the integrated and balanced development of the region of Évora, where the adega is situated, creating cultural, educational and social opportunities for its inhabitants. The municipality of Évora is a world heritage site located in the breath taking region of Alentejo. The climate of this agricultural region, which area covers over a third of Portugal, is dictated by influence of the Atlantic Ocean working together with São Mamede mountains, giving in effect  perfect conditions for smooth, harmonious, very easy-drinking reds, produced using the Aragonez, Trincadeira and Tinta Caiada varieties. The set of weather and soil aspects is more challenging for whites. Nevertheless Adega Cartuxa keeps on cultivating grapes long established and characteristic for Alentejo (DOC – Évora) predominantly based on Roupeiro, Antão Vaz and Arinto varieties found in their whites and sparkling wines.

Adega Cartuxa 50 Great Sparkling Wines 2014 4Adega Cartuxa 50 Great Sparkling Wines 2014 4Tasting Notes from 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2014

Sparkling Brut 2009 – Buttery, bakery and toasted almond. Fresh entrance. Creamy mouthfeel. Fine bubble. Balanced. Pleasant finish. Succulent.

Sparkling Brut Reserva 2009 – Honey, ripe fruits & hints of fennel. Notable fruity entrance. Well balanced acidity & sweetness. Creamy texture. Silky bubble. Lingering pleasant finish.

Massís del Garraf Terroir key to Sparkling Success at Cuscó Berga

50 Great Sparkling Wines Cusco BergaVineyards surround the village of Les Gunyoles d’Avinyonet reaching out from the valley to the steep hills towering (Massís del Garraf) over this small community in eastern Penedès. It is here that in 1985 Josep Cuscó Berga started producing wines and cavas under his family name. With the help of his sons the winery expanded and grew to be a modern facility that holds both the production compartments and an exhibition area focused on bringing out the connection of wine industry with local history and culture. The building housing vast cellars descends deep into the very midst of the hill on which it stands. Natural limestone walls surround numerous wine-shelves and allow for perfect temperature and humidity to be maintained which is essential to the process of fermentation and ageing.

50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World Cusco BergaThe same limestone contributes to local soil composition which is a key element of Cusco Berga products’ unique taste and flavour. In the mountainous area of the vineyards even the 40 years old Parellada grapes have to struggle with unfavourable, harsh conditions but are an absolute must in the final cava blend providing the much needed acidity and mineral freshness. The three brothers that now manage the winery struggle to keep the plants prospering in this hostile environment but it is often a fight with overwhelming odds as dangerous fungi pose a constant threat to cultivation. It is a daily routine for the owners family to supervise their crops and sometimes even manually inject oxygen into the most needy subjects.

Cusco Berga 50 Great Sparkling Wines 2014But not only the sloppy parts of the 35 ha vast estate are in danger of pest and illnesses. In the valley where most of the grapes are grown (yielding 10.000 – 12.000 kg per ha yearly while in the mountainous area – only 5.000 – 6.000 kg per ha) the remedy is the usage of pheromones that makes ecological farming (contributing to a substantial part of the winery production) possible. Among the vines the sweetness and ripeness of fruits is measured each day and all the varieties are attended to with same care, be it barely fruit-bearing 3 year old Cabernet Blanc or rare Moscatel de Alejandría (the winery sells 100% Muscat among its other wines). Cusco Berga combines professional approach with love and passion to wine at every level in consent with the family spirit and wine-making BRUT NATURE RESERVA ECOLÒGIC 50 Great Sparkling Wines 2014traditions.

Tasting Notes from 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2014

Brut Nature Reserva Eco 2011 – Fine lively bubble. Citurs notes.  Crisp entrance. Notable but pleasant acidity. Subtle citric flavours.

Cusco Berga received Gold and Silver awards in the annual publication 50 Great Cavas 2014