Catalonia here I am ! The vine growing tradition in Catalonia is a very complexe history. Since the arrival of the Phoenicians and Greeks, wine has been an essential feature of Catalan and Mediterranean culture. The catalunya designation of origin, created in 1999, is an heir of this long-standing tradition. Production of wine in Catalonia has reached more than 50 million bottles. Catalonian wines can be found in more than one hundred countries around the world, and their main market belong to the European Union with more than 17 million bottles.
Consejo Regulador CAVA
The cava designation of origin is run by the ministry of agriculture and is made up of 159 municipal districts from all over Spain spread out among the autonomous regions of Catalonia, Aragon, and Valencia municipalities. 98% of the 225 million bottles produced within the sphere of the DO is made in Catalonia, and only 2% in the rest of the state. 95% of the production takes place in the Penedes region, and the essence of cava is the natural double fermentation of the wine, in the bottle (as well called methode champenoise).
Spanish producers were making sparkling wines following different methods:
- Champenoise: second fermentation inside the bottle
- Charmat: second fermentation in big tanks (medium quality)
- Gas addition: adding carbon dioxide (lowest quality)
Traditionally, the base wine is made with blends of the Catalan autochthonous varieties which are: Macabeu, Xarel-lo and Parellada. For some years now, however, to the traditional varieties have been added foreign varities such as Chardonnay and Subirat, as well as Garnacha, Monastrell and Pinot noir.
It is particularly hard for me to say that a Cava is a nice product as I am originally from the Champagne region. But truth be told, this Cava is not a joke. In the cellar of Recaredo, in Penedes, we had the chance to taste the Turò d’En Mota 2004 (disgorged à la volée right in front of us, thanks for this privilege!), à 100 % Xarel.lo - one of the Catalan autochthonous varieties - zéro dosage, made from grapes cultivated in biodynamics !
« If produced that way, the wine represents the soil at its best ! »
It made me discover the product and even more, buy a bottle… Even though it is quite expensive (100€ approximately for a bottle in a restaurant of that particular cuvée) it is a product that you wont regret investing in… It is a pure gem!
La Fou Cellers
Grupo Roqueta Origen
In 2007, Ramon Roqueta Segalés, younger member of a family with a long-standing tradition in the world of wine (the origins goes back to 1199!), decided to create La Fou Cellers in Terra Alta, specialized in Grenache. We tried their 3 wines, the El Sender: a deep red color with notes of blackberry, fresh fruits, spices and licorice - Els Amelers: pale yellow color with a nose of grapefruit and flowers, and notes of apricot and almonds - De Batea: Cherry Color with notes of dried red fruits, mostly blackberry with a great minerality.
Via Edetana, in Terra Alta, was an old Roman Route. The cellar was built in 2003 and is integrated into a stunning landscape surrounded by vineyards and mountains. The beauty of the building is giving even more credit to the view, mixing design and austerity together. Their wines are made in a way that they achieve a balance between traditional wine making and recent advances in technology. They own 60 hectares of vineyards with vines over 50 years old! A little piece of paradise in the middle of Spain ! Definitely a winery to visit if you pass by Terra Alta…
Mas d’En Gil
Mas d’En Gil was owned by 3 families over the last century. Francesc Gil firstly bought the domaine and passed the domaine to his descendents. Then, the Barril family took over in 1930, followed by Rovira Carbonell in 1998. Marta nowadays is taking care of the vines, bringing biodynamic farming to the domaine, as well as taking care of the visits, and we had the pleasure to meet her!
“Generally what’s most important to sell a wine is, first, the brand, then the vineyard and the terroir, and finally the label on the bottle. Here in Mas d’en Gil, it’s first the Terroir, then the vineyard and finaly the wine maker, a way of being humble in front of the terroir producing such a good wine.”
The Mas d’En Gil wines are now available is more than 40 countries and it is for sure a bottle that you should run (right now!!) to buy because their wines are just amazing ! Special recommendation: The Coma Blanca
The Clos Mogador is an estate of 20 hectares run by Isabelle and René Barbier since 1989. René, a French winemaker, gives the name of Clos Mogador as a tribute to his aunt, a well known author who wrote “Les Gens de Mogador”. Situated in Priorat, René is running his estate in biodynamic farming since 6 years, picking all the grapes by hand and not filtering his wines. They have vines of 112 years old and to keep them in good strength, they are not using any product. No sulfer, no copper. “A wine living from the soil”.
Can Rafols Dels Caus
In 1979, Carlos Esteva decided to go and live in his Grandfather’s estate, Can Rafols dels Caus, in Penedes. The wines comes from the Massis del Garraf, a calcareous mass of limestone, which brings a nice mineral taste to the wine. We tried a few of their wines but one caught my attention: the Pairal 2013, a 100% Xarel.lo which was produced in order to realize a cava. But finally, Carlos enjoyed it as a fine wine and decided to keep it this way. It is aged 4 months in chestnut barrels, as they used to do historically in Catalonia, and 24 months in bottle.
...Navarra, Rioja, and Ribera del Duero will follow up soon on The Wined !