Introducing Sparkling WINE Week Online Trade Fair

On the 1 & 2 July 2020 Wine Pleasures is launching Sparkling WINE Week – an online trade fair aimed at helping sparkling wine producers to pitch to wine importers from around the world when travel is virtually impossible. Event host Anthony Swift explains how it is going to work.

Tell us about Sparkling WINE Week.

As we organise not only B2B Workshops in Spain, Italy and the UK but also we organise two annual Sparkling Wiine competitons – 50 Great Cavas and 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World,  it made sense in these challenging times to look at how to keep wine producers and wine buyers connected and doing business while simultaneously providing useful content to help the wine importer with their businesses. Having just completed Spanish WINE Week and Italian WINE Week in May organising the Sparkling WINE week was an obvious next step.

Delivered in English, the Sparkling WINE Week 2 day programme offers cutting edge professional education opportunities for the wine buying professionals at all levels. Attendees can take advantage of influential, expert led sessions and enhance their knowledge, grow their business and in their profession and be inspired! The programme also contains live interviews with boutique sparkling wine producers to enable wine buyers to make great sparkling discoveries from diverse terroirs in countries such as Argentina, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK.

That seems like a good blend of  tools to help both producers and buyers in what is a difficult time. How did Spanish WINE Week and Italain WINE Week go?

Went great!  We had Masters of Wine Fernado Mora and Sarah Jane Evans as keynote speakers for Spain and Richard Baudains and Giampiero Nadalli for Italy and we had an excellent range of boutique wine producers from around Spain and Italy. The event was well attended by wine importers and distributors from Japan to the USA and from Scandinavian countries to Australia. Over a 100 buyer appointment requests were received.

So how will Sparkling WINE Week work? 

Much the same as Spanish and Italian WINE Week but with a greater attendance of wine importers – we are expecting around 500 buyers to sign up for the event.

5 live daily sessions will be run with a program that includes  talks delivered by expert speakers, interviews with producers, and some videos of different regions from around the world.  We’re also providing a tool to set up private meetings between producers and buyers to create new business opportunities.

Sparkling Wine producers interested in participating in the programme can view more info here: https://www.winepleasures.com/workshop/sparkling-wine-week/

What happens if a buyer signs up but misses a live session?

No problem. If an attendee misses any or all of the live sessions he or she will be able to view a replay whenever convenient. 

How do buyers get involved if they want to participate?

The event is free for wine buyers, distributors, retailers, agents, journalists and bloggers. Buyers wishing to participate in the event should register here: https://www.winepleasures.com/workshop/sparkling-wine-week-2020/

If you would like to find out any more about Sparkling WINE Week then contact Anthony Swift on info@winepleasures.com or T. +34 93 897 70 48
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www.winepleasures.com

Enoturismo en Casa

Con el confinamiento en casa de casi todo Europa,  la empresa Wine Events Worldwide bajo su marca Wine Pleasures ubicada en la provincia de Barcelona ha anuciado su proyecto Wine Tourism at home (Enoturismo en Casa). Ante la imposibilidad de salir de casa que muchas personas en Europa tienen, Wine Pleasures quiere ofrecer una actividad para poder disfrutar en casa del enoturismo y del vino a través del internet.

El pack Wine Tourism Experience at home que se etrega a domicilio sin contacto humano, incluye 3 botellas de 3 bodegas artesanas differentes, las fichas técnicas, un sacacorchos o un tapón de Cava y una copia del libro editado por Wine Pleasures titulado “50 Great Cavas”. Una vez entregada un sumiller se pone en contacto con el cliente a fin de establcer día y hora para hacerles una visita guida virtual de cada bodega así como una cata comentada de cada vino de cada bodega. El sumiller ademàs se comenta cuestiones tales como el vino, su cuidado, forma adecuada de servirlo e introducción a las nociones básicas de maridaje. La actividad es divertido y al la vez educativa y además apoya no solo a las bodegas artesanas familiares españolas no presentes en las grandes supermercados sino también a sumillers que trabajan habitualmente en el sector HORECA.

La iniciative Wine Tourism at home está accesible en la web de Wine Pleasures.  Las 3 experiencas a escoger son las siguientes:

  • Discover Spain’s Penedès Cava region
  • Nose out bold red wine regions of Spain
  • Summer whites in Spain’s Catalonia wine regions

Wine Tourism at Home

With many European countries currently in lockdown, businesses have had to get creative throughout. Tourism is a hard hit sector as families and friends are now forced to entertain themselves at home. Some tourism service providers have been putting on their thinking hats and come up with some interesting affordable iniciatives.

Barcelona based business Wine Events Worldwide under their brand name Wine Pleasures has come up with a unique and brand new idea of organising Wine tourism at home. And it comes with all the fixings to go on a “winery tour” of some of Catalonia’s best boutique wine producers right from the customer’s own home. Here’s how it works, according to Wine Pleasures.

A wine tourism experience box will be delivered, with no physical contact with anyone to the customer’s door anywhere in Europe and containing a selection of 3 wines from 3 different family producers. Customers are later linked up with a qualified sommellier who will take them on a 45 minute virtual tour of each winery, telling a few winery stories while guiding the customer through the tasting of each wine looking at colour, aromas and taste. The experience is both fun and educational and can cater for up to 10 people.

Customers can choose from 3 initial wine tourism experiences:

  • Discover Spain’s Penedès Cava region
  • Nose out bold red wine regions of Spain
  • Summer whites in Spain’s Catalonia wine regions

Purchases of the wine tourism experience, which costs just €170 (includes postage and packaging) for homes in Europe can be enjoyed by the whole family so a family of 5 will only really be paying  €34 each.

This completely immersive experience will not only be educational and fun to do, but each wine tourism experience purchased will be supporting three small boutique winery businesses not present on the supermarket shelves.It will also provide employment for sommelliers not able to work in restaurants and hotels.

For more information on Wine Tourism Experiences at Home by Wine Pleasures here: https://www.winepleasures.com/workshop/wine-tourism-at-home/ 

The Secret’s Out: Exciting Wines from Bolivia

Shouldering against the titans of Argentina, Brazil and Chile, Bolivia has undoubtedly got a battle on when it comes to export markets but to be fair wine has only been produced in Bolivia for 400 years or so.

Almost all of Bolivia’s vineyards are located between 1,600 and 3,000 metres above sea level. Indeed, Bolivia may very well be the country with the highest vineyard surface in the world. These lofty altitudes provide high UV exposure and wide ranging diurnal temperatures, giving deep coloured but fresh wines, with ripe tannins and high acidity and have been appropriately been given the name High Altitude Wines.

On a recent visit to Bolivia and with the help and guidance of the Wines of Bolivia Association, Wine Pleasures visited two of Bolivia’s most extensive wine producing regions: The Central Valley of Tarija (El Valle de la Concepción – some 2,400 hectares of vineyards) around but mostly south of the tranquil colonial town of Tarija and to the popular tourist spot of Samaipata (Valleys of Santa Cruz – 100 hectares of vineyards) a 2-3 hour drive from Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Tarija

The main varieties planted in the central Valley of Tarija are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Tannat, Garnacha and Barbera in reds and Muscat of Alexandria, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Franc Colombard and Chenin Blanc in whites.

Bodega La Concepción

First up was a visit to Bodega La Concepción. Started in 1986 with day to day table wines along with Singani Rujero it has evolved into a Premium wine producer making monovarietal and blended wines from the following international grape varieties: Cabernet Suavignon, Syrah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay all under the brand name of High Altitude Vines.

Singani Rujero Colección Privada

Distilled from 100% high altitude Muscat of Alexandria, it’s a clear, bright punchy 40% alcohol spirit. Citrus on the nose with floral notes. Smooth velvety mouthfeel with lavender on the palate. Long lingering finish. Our host Carlos Paz Ide informed us that Singani works well in cocktails such as a refreshing Chuflay (ginger ale or lemon- lime soda), Sucumbé (milk, egg and cinnamon – a bit like eggnog), Yungueño (syrup and orange juice) and Té con Té ( hot black tea, cinnamon and lime – warms you up on the high mountains!).

Cepas de Altura Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Deep intense colour. Red forest fruits on the nose with hints of pepper and fennel. Fruity entrance albeit a tad herbaceous making for a slightly bitter palate. Assertive tannin. Some vanilla on the lingering finish. Should pair very well with a leg of lamb cooked with figs or prunes and some of the local strong cheeses.

Bodegas Kohlberg

After an interesting lunch in Fogon de Gringo in Tarija consisting of mostly meat, rice and vegetables followed by a pancake desert with cloves and aniseed (Tojori) and a red from La Concepción we headed back out for our second winery visit to Bodegas Kohlberg.

Just by entering the winery and seeing the huge towering and numerous inox tanks you would be right to guess that Kohlberg is the largest wine producer in the Tarija region. The wine we tasted was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Malbec (20%) & Syrah (20%) partly aged in new oak barrels. The wine is called 200 Años Gran Reserva and commemorates the bicentennial of Tarija.

200 Años Gran Reserva Edition limitada 2017

Intense fruit aromas of Fruits of the forest, dark cherry. Delicate and discreet fruit on the palate which is light bodied but with strong tannins still  abound. Slightly herbaceous on a subtle fruity finish which is lingering.

Bodega y Viñedos Kuhlmann

At the family winery Bodega y Viñedos Kuhlmann we were hosted by winemaker Franz Molina Conzelmann. Pioneer Franz Kuhlmann founded the winery in 1930 and is well known for making Singani and more recently an interesting sparkling wine called Altosama Espumente de Altura a Brut made using the charmat method. Tropical fruit and floral notes. Lively fizz. Fruity palate. Slight bitter almond on the finish. It is featured as one of the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2019 and was awarded a Gold medal (95 points) in the annual competition organised by Wine Pleasures.

The Singani Los Parrales Reserva Aniversario (100% Muscat of Alexandria) also won Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits  Competition.

The winery recently built a state of the art new winery on the outskirts of Tarija in the Santa Ana district with great views of the Santa Ana valley and Alto Sama mountains.

The winery also owns the 5* Resort Hotel Los Parrales (where we stayed) 3.5 Kms out of the town centre which affords views of Tarija and the River Guadalquivír.

Campos de Solana

At Campos de Solana, a large, premium brand open for wine tourism we were hosted by winemaker Nelson Sfarcich and Production Manager Jorge Furio. Working with Malbec, cabernet sauvignon, tannat in reds and Riesling in whites, we were treated to their Decanter (Platinum) award winning wine Único 2016 on what was a flying visit.

Samaipata

For the last leg of our trip to discover wines and wine tourism in Bolivia we were to head to the Valleys of Santa Cruz de la Sierra which is home to only a few small wineries dedicated to the production of wine and Singani. The Valleys of Santa Cruz are located immediately to the Southwest of the Codo de los Andes between 18º and 19º of latitude south. Currently there are up to 300 ha planted but there is a potential to plant as many as 10,000 ha especially around Vallegrande well known by Che Guevara pilgrims. Our destination was to be the Uvairenda winery located close to the touristic town of Samaipata (a two and a half hour drive from Santa Cruz de la Sierra) in the foothills of the Cordillera Oriental.

Uvairenda

Francisco Roig, Head Winemaker & Co-Owner of Uvairenda has his vineyards  between 1700 and 1800 meters above sea level on terraced slopes, and is working with Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Merlot for reds and Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc, Pedro Giménez and Chardonnay for whites. His wines can be best described as boutique and while we did not get the chance to meet Francisco we were able to talk to his colleague, Humberto Andrade in the Uvairenda office and shop in Calle Sucre #700 (Casco Viejo), Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

We tasted the following wines:

1750 – Pedro Giménez 2017 Citrus notes particularly grapefruit on the nose and buttery notes. Creamy texture, bitter almond entrance and palate. Long persistent nutty finish.

1750 – Tannat Vintage 2017 Blackcurrant, licorice, blackberry, herbs, cloves, Fruity entrance, spicy and slightly bitter palate. Pleasant tannins. Long lingering finish.

We asked about the 1750 on the labels expecting it to be a year something happened but in fact it is the minimum altitude of Francisco’s vineyards.

While most have probably never heard of wines of Bolivia let alone tasted any, this could well be all set to change in the coming years as Wines of Bolivia get noticed at trade fairs such as Prowein and international wine competitions. With most tour operators and travel agents currently taking FIT and group travel to La Paz, Lake Titcaca and a flight down to Salar de Uyuni, there is much to be done by the Ministerio de Culturas y Turismo from a wine and culinary tourism perspective as little is currently being done to attract this niche tourism.

Article by Anthony Swift
Photos by Rosa Antelo Moreno

Top 50 Sparkling Wines for 2019

From 157 Sparkling wines entered to the annual completion organised by Wine Pleasures, our judges tasted through premium bubblies from around the Old and New World to bring you the best 50 available for 2019. Anthony Swift, Competition Director looks at the results.

Once again, the competition to find the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World has popped a breathtaking blend of award – winning sparkling wines from around the world. Of the 157 sparkling wines entered from diverse terroirs and countries the top 50 are dominated by bubbles from Italy, Portugal & Spain.  Diverse too were the grape varieties used to make top quality sparkling wines such as Alvarinho and Touriga Nacional from Portugal, Glera, Trebbiano & Sangiovese from Italy, Macabeo, Perellada & Xarel.lo from Spain as well as the classic Champagne varieties such as Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir made in Australia, Austria, Slovenia and the UK.

In the case of sparkling wines made using the traditional method these were classified and tasted according to dosage and ageing time on the lees. In many cases there was significant ageing on the lees giving wines great character and complexity. Gold medals and classified as Exceptional each with 97 points are Freixenet Can Sala by Freixenet (Penedès (Cava), Spain), Soldati La Scolca Spumante Brut Millesimato d’Antan by La Scolca (Gavi, Italy) and Adega de Palmela Medium Dry by Adega de Palmela (Península de Setúbal, Portugal). 

English new comers to the competition Blackdown Ridge and Court Garden both with vineyards in Sussex make a statement for English Sparkling wine with both obtaining Gold medals.

Sparkling wines made using the Charmat method were classified and tasted according to dosage. Most demonstrated a combination of great finesse with a fine mousse and crisp acidity. Three gold medals awarded for this method of production and classified as Outstanding: Eight Carat Cuvee Rosé by Geoff Johnston Wines T/as Pirramimma (McLaren Vale, Australia) , Mateus Sparkling Rosé Brut Baga And Shiraz by Sogrape Vinhos (Porto, Portugal), Viña Albali Sec by Félix Solís Avantis (Castilla La Mancha Valdepeñas, Spain

This year saw just 3 Frizzantes entered with Bonarda Cresta Del Ghiffi by Fratelli Agnes (Lombardia, Italy) gaining a silver medal and a place amongst the 50 Greats.

Quality was high. Traditional method vintage production dominated the competition with some nice prices, most ranging from €6 to €25 Euros. Charmat method production wines range from €5 to €15.

Bubble lovers will more than likely find it a tough task to find the sparkling wines amongst the 50 Greats published here in their preferred wine retailer as most wines are “boutique” and therefore not mass produced. Best option would be to look online to see if the producers sell direct to the wine lover or if there are any online retailers selling the product.

We hope the results of the competition will encourage both the trade and the wine lover to find, try and enjoy the most exceptional sparkling wines at Christmas and during 2019. To view the great sparkling wine discoveries for 2019 click on the banner below:

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

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>>