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

Dealu Mare, Sebes – Apold & Murfatlar give sparkling success for Halewood Romania

Halewood 50 Great Sparkling Wines 2015 3The Romanian – British cooperation operating under the name Halewood dates back to the 1980’s when John Halewood, an independent  UK-based wine and spirits producer, having accomplished a substantial success in the domestic market, started importing and marketing wine from Romania. Soon followed the founding of Halewood Romania accompanied by acquisitions of Romanian assets (eg.Vinalcool Prahova SA – a local leading producer) establishing the company’s position in the Romanian market. This in turn gave Halewood a deep insight into Romanian rich though not well known wine production traditions. Up to this day one of the company’s flagships are the Rhein & Cie Azuga Cellars which history spans back to a century before the aforementioned merger.

Halewood 50 Great Sparkling Wines 2015The Cellars are not only one of the oldest locations in Romania where sparkling wine has been produced with the traditional method, but also a place of cultural significance, having been designated as the “Supplier of the Romanian Royal Court” as early as 1920 and providing the home market with the most renowned sparkling wine of the inter-war period – Rhein Extra – a brand known to be included in the menu of coronation ceremony in Alba-Iulia on October 15th 1922. The Cellars are famous for their micro climate maintained thanks to the naturally ventilated surface construction surrounded by double insulated walls, making it a perfect space for ageing sparkling wine fermented in a bottle.

Halewood 50 Great Sparkling Wines 2015 2Historical affiliations provide both marketing and wine tourism opportunities appealing to the export markets where Halewood aims to expand. The company is backed up with over 400ha of vineyards in the three most fertile wine regions of Romania – Dealu Mare (located on Parallel 45  North, similar to Bordeaux and Piedmonte), Transylvanian Plateau (a chilly climate) and Murfatlar (warm, close to the Black Sea) – with versatile conditions allowing diverse wine production and composition.

Among traditional European varieties that contribute to Halewood’s portfolio local ones need to be mentioned – Feteasca Neagra, Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala and Iordana. Today the company bases its sparkling wine production on dry white wines from Sebes – Apold region in Transylvania and the Pinot Noir  from Delau Mare where Halewood’s biggest vineyard is located, resulting in Rhein Extra Bruit Imperial from the former and Rhein Extra Rose from the latter.

Rhein BRUT ROSETasting Notes from 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2014

“Rhein Extra ” –  Brut Rose 2011 – Strawberry and water melon notes. Fruity fresh entrance. Short finish. Balanced.

“Rhein  Extra “ – Brut Imperial 2011 – Citrus, melon, floral and bakery notes. Zingy entrance. Creamy palate. Frothy mouthfeel. Fine bubble. Lingering finish.

Great Sparkling Wines Made in Bairrada at Caves Primavera

Caves Primavera 50 Great Sparkling Wines 2015 3Founded and still owned by two passionate brothers – Vital and Lucénio de Almeida – Caves Primavera is celebrating their 65 anniversary this year. The Almeida brothers started as a small company with a goal to grow and develop their business and build a name which would be strong and important in the wine industry. Since it opened the door  the company went trough many transformations to reach that set goal and it became, as they like to say: “the most important winery in Portugal”.

Today, after many renovations and extensions, Caves Primavera’s facilities include: storage capacity of 8 million litres of wine in tanks, 2 million bottles of sparkling wine (made with methode champenoise) and 1,5 million bottles of table wine, as well as old brandy, which is aged in oak barrels. The fully automated bottling line used in winery can process approximately 3500 bottles per hour.

Committed to continuous improvement of the quality of their wines, the company invested in a high end laboratory, a microbiological department and a modern vinification centre to fully and carefully control all the steps in the production.

The success of the winery lies not only in great attention to the quality of the products but also in focusing on export. The wines are sold to over 15 countries around the world and the customer base is still expanding. The wines are widely recognized appreciated at international wine tastings and competitions, resulting in various medals.

Caves Primavera 50 Great Sparkling Wines 2015 2Caves Primavera is based in hilly Bairrada – Portuguese wine region located in the western part of the Beira province, where viticulture has existed since at least the 10th century, when the region gained independence from the Moors. It is stretched between the mountains of Dão and Atlantic Ocean. Therefore the climate of the region is mild but rather cool and maritime with plentiful rainfall. Those conditions accompanied with sandy and clay-limestone soils make it a very important area for producing the acidic base wines for sparkling wines.

Caves Primavera 50 Great Sparkling wines ChaveTasting Notes from 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2014

 Sparkling Chave D’Oíro Brut 2012 – Grapefruit and floral notes. Fruity & crisp entrance. Balances. Smooth mouthfeel. Pleasant finish.

Sparkling Bairrada Baga Brut 2012 – Notes of almond blossom and wild strawberries. Fruity entrance. Fresh palate. Fine bubble. Short bitter finish.

Urszula Janeczko


Loire Valley Bouvet-Ladubay Sparkle in the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World

Bouvet Ladubay 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2014The history of second oldest sparkling wine–producing house in Saumur, the Maine-et-Loire department, western France, starts in 1851 with young and venturesome Etienne Bouvet. At the age of 23, together with his wife Celestine Ladubay he bought 8 kilometres of underground galleries in Saint-Hilaire-Saint-Florent, and used them as cellars to create a winery named Bouvet-Ladubay.

Bouvet Ladubay 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2014Etienne’s commitment and dedication, along with his life motto: “Excellence!” brought elegance and  prestige into the wine industry. He was a visionary founder erecting immense buildings to place his production; he installed an electric plant to illuminate his underground cellars, his mansions and châteaux. His employees were provided not only with lodging but also a small theatre to offer them access and exposure to the arts.

By 1890, Bouvet-Ladubay had become France’s largest producer of méthode traditionnelle wines.

In 1932  Etienne  Bouvet’s  descendants  sold the  firm  to  Justin  Marcel  Monmousseau, grandfather of the current CEO, whose family retained ownership until 1974, when it was taken under the wing of the Taittinger group as a subsidiary for the next 30 years.

Since 2006 Bouvet-Ladubay belongs to the Indian  Group  United  Breweries  and  its Chairman,  Dr  Vijay  Mallya,  has  chosen to pursue company’s family spirit.

Bouvet Ladubay 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2014The undoubtedly unique character of Bruts de Loire produced by Bouvet-Ladubay comes  from sourcing the Chenin Blanc grapes, indigenous for the Loire Valley, from different winegrowers and blending them with the small amount of Chardonnay grape or Cabernet Franc for rosé. For over ninety years and 3 generations the same family of blenders is guarding the consistency of the production of the world-famous sparkling wines.

Since late 1980s the brand tied its promotion with equestrian and motor sports, including the 24 Heures du Mans and the Paris–Dakar race. Building the marque and following the initial thought of Monsieur Bouvet – to expose and immerse people in arts – led to opening the Centre d’Art Contemporain (the Contemporary Art Centre) with many successful exhibitions, as well as creation of breathtaking Cathdrale Engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral) carved in the caves of  Loire Valley, now officially listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Bouvet Ladubay 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2014Tasting Notes from 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2014

Bouvet Saphir Saumur Brut Blanc Vintage – Pineapple, nutty (almond) & peach blossom on the nose. Fruity entrance. Def peach flavour. Smooth mouthfeel. Fine bubble. Fresh zingy lingering finish.

Urszula Janeczko

50 Great Cavas – a Wine Pleasures visit to Agustí Torelló

50 Great Cavas 2014 - Agusti TorelloTo say Mr. Agustí Torelló Mata established a prestigious winery would be an understatement, he has in fact lived and breathed wine for a lifetime. The family business and commercial brand started in 1993 but this is only a scratch on the surface of the 40 years of experience the founder already had in the industry. While he was the son of a musician and a tailor, his enthusiasm for Cava only grew through his young working experience, forced by the economic hardship of the civil war to leave school at 13 years old; Agustí started working with his uncle in a cava house. What he saw at first as some magical laboratory of no significance would eventually spark an interest and become his career and his passion.

50 Great Cavas 2014 - Agusti TorelloAfter moving to Valencia to study wine technology and travelling the world learning from each wine region he visited, the business was first born in 1954 as a wine laboratory analyzing and innovating in wine development for external wine companies. Over the years he became somewhat of a pioneer in the development of Cava fighting for the movement for recognition in the wine world. Agustí Torelló Mata now a winery in its own right stays a small family company benefiting from the very latest modern technology as well as traditional methods in cases where the quality could be compromised.

Proudly producing a “Penedés Cava” they are using 100% local grapes as they believe it is the only way to express the characteristics of the region from which such rich and varied conditions produce the best traditional cava grapes. One of only 6% of cellars making their own base wine, they ensure these old vines are producing the highest quality of grapes and closely control the entire process.

50 Great Cavas 2014 - Agusti TorelloFull of character the bodega is a wine tourist’s delight, the cellars and the visitor centre are a great representation of a modern Cava. A trip down to the cellars walks guests down the spiral stairs with beautiful roart iron hand rails and glass doors. A true difference is their desire to make the cellars less of a dark or dirty environment but instead a fresh enjoyable atmosphere, kept immaculately neat and even having artworks on the pillars.

Only producing Brut Nature and Brut, looking not to distort a classic dry taste, they also wish for their consumers to enjoy their cava as soon as possible after disgorgement. They best do this by completing the final stages of the cava process dependant on the orders they receive. Making a variety of specialty Cavas, Agustí Torelló is certainly a winery with an edge.

Tasting Notes from 50 Great Cavas 2014

50 Great Cavas 2014 - Agusti TorelloBrut Gran Reserva 2009 – Delicate ageing aroma with butter & toasted notes against a background of ripe fruit.  Fine smooth bubble. Ageing notes blend with ripe fruit & the toasted & nutty nuance. Elegant!

Rosat Trepat 2011 – Fresh summer raspberries open jubilantly on a crisp entrance . Notes of strawberries on the palate. Persistent bubbles. Crisp structure. Pleasant medium finish.

Gran Reserva 2009 – Complex with pear, quince & flowers on the nose. Creamy mouthfeel of light caramel balanced with fresh apple acidity. Long persistent finish.


Wine Tourism Destinations to Visit

Cape Legends 2For wine enthusiasts seeking a getaway, nothing can be better than the opportunity to take your holidays in a location where  your favourite tipple is produced.

There are many available tours of some of the greatest wine regions in the world, and these can often be combined with cycling and walking holidays if you’d like a variety of activities along with your tasting sessions.

With an array of wineries throughout the world, and many places to choose from, we’ve put together a short list of suggested locations for your wine-based holiday.

Wine Tourism #iwinetc1) St Emillion Heritage Route, France

If you’re a Bordeaux wine fan, it can be difficult to choose a location for the best tasting, as this region is so vast. Visit the town of St Emillion, which has a small wine route tour of its large wine areas. You can see this on a half hour train ride which wends its way through the vineyards surrounding the village. Not only will you learn a lot about the area, its wines and local cuisine, you’ll also see the beautiful scenery. There’s even the opportunity to make your own wine!

2) Napa Valley, California

Visit the California wineries in Napa Valley for an astounding wine tasting experience. Scenic vineyards are dotted across the landscape of this area of northern California, just 50 miles north of San Francisco. You’ll find vineyards growing more than 50 types of grape here: the perfect variety for the travelling connoisseur!

Wine region3) Turin, Italy

Turin is less touristy than other wine-making regions of Italy, but has a very long history of wine making nonetheless. It’s a tranquil atmosphere, with wonderful cuisine to complement the delicious wines. Total bliss.

4) Central Otago, New Zealand

On New Zealand’s South Island, this mountainous region is beautiful from October, when the southern hemisphere’s summer weather begins. This is the most southerly grape-growing region on earth, and it’s a relatively recent addition to the wine-growing trade: climate change has lately enabled the grapes to grow for ideal Pinot Noir.

Raventos i Blanc 15) Cape Town, South Africa

This area’s award-winning vineyards are also renowned for breath taking scenery and fascinating cellar and vineyard tours. Acclaimed vintages from this region include Wellington, Paarl and Franschhoek, among many others.

Pack your bags and get travelling to some of these fantastic wine-oriented destinations: the wine won’t drink itself!

If you are in the wine and culinaary tourism business and love Champagne then get yourself registered for the Intrnational Wine Tourism Conference 2015!

Feel free to add your favourite wine tourism destination in the comments section below.

50 Great Cavas 2014 – another exceptional year!

50 Great Cavas 2014 coverThe 4th edition of 50 Great Cavas 2014 by Wine Pleasures has been published.

Back in 2000, the cava world did not have a unique guide and since then the publication is sought after by bubble lovers and recognized as an authority on cavas in the wine import industry.

As always, we selected the Top 50 by looking at body, colour, clarity and bubbles. We tasted for acidity, mouth-feel and mousse, finish, balance, sweetness and overall flavour. We searched deep for primary and secondary aromas and bouquet.

50 Great Cava roducer Fermí BohigasCavas were classified and tasted according to dosage and ageing time on the lees. This year’s blind tasting has been an exceptional one as (after much debate) all of the 50 Great Cavas 2014 have scored at least 93 points. Some nice prices too ranging from 5 to 50 Euros making them affordable for not only special occasions but also for aperitifs and slow cooking meals with family and friends.

DecantaloAs many of the 50 Great Cavas tend to be difficult to find in a local wine shop, the Wine Pleasures team came up with an online solution to tasting the 50 Great Cavas anywhere in Europe thanks to a synergy with online wine retailers Decantalo.

50 Great Cava wine tasting tourNew for 2014 is a short section on wine tourism where cava lovers are provided with accommodation options when visiting some of the 50 Great Cava producers.

View and/or download the publication here>>

Further information

Anthony Swift
T. 00 34 93 687 34 57 44
E. [email protected]

50 Great Sparkling Wines – a Wine Pleasures visit to Clos Lentiscus

50 Great Sparkling wines Clos LentiscusNestled in the heart of old-Garraf Park among the Alt Penedés and Garraf regions of the Catalan coastal range and built around the thriving, thousand year old mastic tree that has become their trademark, the Clos Lentiscus winery stands atop many centuries of wine production. The vineyards, comprised of 65 hectares, are enriched by the surrounding natural Mediterranean forests, the plethora of clay and limestone that make up the soil, and the ideal climate created its proximity to the coast and mountains, day and night temperature differences, and moderate rainfall. This terroir creates the perfect conditions to grow a rare and much celebrated local variety of grape, Malvasia de Sitges.

50 Great Sparkling wines 2013 Clos Lentiscus 2The charming Clos Lentiscus (Can Ramon) house, partially built in the fourteenth century, had been gradually added onto as the family and wine industry has prospered and flourished over the years. However, it was not until the loyal and devoted sons, Manel and Joan Aviño, returned home to take over the family business in 2002 that Can Ramon took the innovative steps to becoming the impeccably and passionately operated winery that it is today.

50 Great Sparkling wines 2013 Clos Lentiscus 8While it is built on generations of family traditions, the adjustments and endeavors that Clos Lentiscus is making are based on very modern concepts. Most important to Clos Lentiscus’s company mission and the product itself is the winery’s choice to begin utilizing organic processing and eliminating all unnatural additives from their wine. “When you taste a wine, it should inspire an experience of the place it comes from,” Manel Aviño, the thoughtful wine maker, passionately declares. Those chemicals get in the way of that experience, and Clos Lentiscus wants their consumers’ daydream inducing sip to transport them directly to the shade of the mastic tree overlooking their winding rows of vineyards. They have even begun producing a delicious line of organic honey from the property’s busy bees if consumers would like to be transported to Clos Lentiscus through their morning cup of tea or nightly glass of milk as well.

Clos Lentiscus 3Additionally, Clos Lentiscus has yet another unique venture in the works. While the winery has recently opened its doors, walls, and even some of its antique wine production equipment to showcasing the breathtaking and vibrant work of local visual artists, they have been inspired to take it one step further and adding a whole lot more generosity. Clos Lentiscus will begin hosting an annual wine tasting and art auction event, donating all proceeds to a non-governmental organization in Ethiopia to buy school supplies, medical equipment, and other essentials that many Ethiopian people have been struggling to live without. Upon a visit to the gallery spaces at Clos Lentiscus, it is obvious that this collaboration of two local art forms is capable of generating a whole new attitude regarding wine’s various uses in the world.  With all the inspiration dripping from the vines, the paint brushes, and even the hives, Clos Lentiscus  is sure to continue transforming and adapting in the wine industry for years to come.

Malvasia Blanc de BlancsTasting notes from 50 Great Sparkling Wines 

 Clos Lentiscus Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature 2009 – Golden yellow. Fine bubble.Very fragrant – honeysuckle, plums, citric and floral notes. Crisp & fresh entrance, smooth mouthfeel, lingering finish though overtly acidic.

Clos Lentiscus Sumoll Reserva Familia Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature 2009 – Amber. Striking raison with underlying citric notes. Fresh and fruity entrance. Crisp lingering finish.


50 Great Cavas – a Wine Pleasures visit to Juvé y Camps

50 Great Cavas 2014 Juvé y Camps 2Going back more than two hundred years to 1796, Joan Juvé Mir, a bold and enterprising vine grower with ideas way ahead of his time, laid the foundations of what would become the family firm of Juvé y Camps. His son, Antoni Juvé Escaiola, took over the reigns at the time of the phylloxera plague having to replant and restore vineyards to ensure continued wine production in the Penedès region.

Antoni’s work and example encouraged his son, Joan Juvé Baqués and his wife Teresa Camps Farré to produce the first sparkling wine under the “Juvé” brand in 1921.

Their two sons, Josep and Joan, joined the management of the firm at the beginning of the 1940’s. They gave a new momentum to the companies development, in particular by building a new winery on the outskirts of Sant Sadurní D’Anoia.

50 Great Cava Wine Tasting Tour 3Some years later, under the direction of Josep and Joan Juvé, a thorough restructuring of the company was undertaken with the enlarging of the underground cellars for the production and maturing of the “Cavas” as well as the bringing in of some important technical advances.
Juvé y Camps development, from father to son, over three generations, has culminated in the construction of a fine new winery for the production and ageing of still wines, in the middle of the Espiells propertycreated by the family architect, Josep Juvé Raventós.

Today Juvé y Camps focus their attention on producing Gran Reserve Cavas, producing 40% of the total production of Gran Reservas in the whole of the DO Cava. Minimum ageing for their Gran Reserve Cavas starts at 36 months. Winery visit are possible but you should organise in advance.

50 Great Cava Wine Tasting TourTasting Notes from 50 Great Cavas 2014

Gran Juvé y Camps 2008 – Green apple, ripe tropical fruit, lightly toasted bread & floral notes: almond blossom. Delicate bubble. Smooth mouthfeel. Long finish.

Reserva de la Familia 2009 – Notes of toast, brioche & fresh dough. Creamy texture. Fine bubble. Long finish. Evocative!

Brut Rosé 2012 – Raspberries, redcurrents and red cherries on the nose. Bitter entrance. Lively mouthfeel. Fruity palate.

50 Great Cava Wine Tasting Tour here.

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

Pere Venture – The Strong-willed Gentleman of Cavas

50 Great Cavas 2014 Pere VENTURASr Pere Ventura, founder of the cava house carrying his namesake, has high affinity for all things elegant. The aesthetics of Pere Ventura’s headquarters in Sant Sadurní D’Anoia bear proof of his good taste. Manicured lawns and pruned foliage adorn the site’s spacious compound. Upon entering the premises, take time to bask in the stunning interior design, which carries modernistic touches and utilizes natural materials such as stone and glass. There is nothing quite like sitting by a roaring fireplace and sipping a glass of cool cava.

50 Great Cavas 2014 Pere VENTURAVentura is generous about sharing the finer things in life with cava enthusiasts. The checkered print synonymous with Pere Ventura’s branding, wittingly reminiscent of a chessboard, evokes the feel of an intellectual and classic pastime, for one of Ventura’s ambitions is to promote the pleasures of drinking cava.

The roots of Pere Ventura’s family tree are entwined with the history of Spanish sparkling wine. In 1872, Manuel Montserrat Font, Ventura’s great-grandfather, laid the groundwork for his offspring by initiating cava production in the Penedès region of Catalonia. Meanwhile, Josep Raventós, Ventura’s grandfather, is credited with producing Spain’s first ‘Traditional Method’ cava. Raventós accumulated knowledge of the wine industry while working at the house of Champagne Mercier in Épernay, Dijon. After the Civil War drew to a close, Raventós carried the jewels of knowledge of champagne-making methods back to his homeland.

50 Great Cavas Pere VenturaIn 1991, a young Ventura stepped out of his comfort zone and left his family’s trade to start a new chapter. While Ventura’s entrepreneurship mirrors that of the men who came before him, his individuality shines through in his brand, which he founded at the tender age of 22. Cavas by Pere Ventura possess signature lightness but don’t skimp on flavour. Take note of Ventura’s handprint on the label of your next acquisition – he gives you his stamp of his approval.

 Tresor Rose Pere Ventura 50 Great Cavas 2014Tasting Notes from 50 Great Cavas 2014

Tresor Rosé NV – Wild strawberries on the nose. Explosion of fruit on the palate. Crisp short finish. Pleasant mouthfeel. Resplendent!

Cupatge D´Honor Vintage 2011 – Brioche, baked apples, vanilla & subtle citric notes. Fresh entrance & palate. Medium finish.

Tresor Brut Reserva NV – Green apples with subtle notes of almonds & pastry. Creamy entrance with balanced acidity. Fresh medium finish.

50 Great Cava Wine Tasting Tour here.

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