It’s a bubbles thing (Penedes, Spain – Day Two)

After spending the night at Raventos i Blanc, I spent my second day in the region meeting a few of the most important people in cava production in the heart of the production area, Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. The first person was the owner of the winery I stayed at, Manuel Raventos himself. Over breakfast Jose introduced me to the history of his forefathers and their impact on wine in the region. He is an amazingly modest man considering the contribution he himself has made to lift the profile of cava wine around the world. Back in the early ’90s he innovatively decided to purchase a chateau in Bordeaux in an effort to secure more placements for his cava. He completely changed the business from selling the fruit and wine, to bottling the wine entirely. After he realised that having a bordeaux wine didn’t help his cava he decided to sell the winery, and the new owners promptly upped the price off the back of the growing acclaim the winery had received. Manuel continues to chip away at creating larger markets for terroir-driven vintage cava, and he is lucky to be supported by a number of other producers like my other hosts for the day Agusti Torello Mata.

In the relocated library of the Raventos family, the Intrepid Wino with Manuel Raventos

Agusti Torelló Mata family were tailors and musicians, and he decided to translate this creativity into wine after being introduced to it by his uncle. After studying wine and travelling the world to learn about the finest sparkling wines available (including Australia), he returned to Penedes to consult his expertise to wineries. A true pioneer, he created  the first wine analysis laboratory in the industry in 1953, and also decided to begin producing his own cava at about the same time. Not content to produce any cava, he experimented for years, only allowing close friends and family to enjoy the results. He didn’t release his wines commercially until 1979, and he decided to do it in the most unique way imaginable. To make it clear that this wine needed to be served in ice buckets, and to create a lasting image, the first wine was released in a bottle shape resembling an amphora with a round bottom, that will not stand up. The wine has been bottled the same way ever since, and is the reflection of a blend of the finest base wines from the finest vintages.

Agusti Torello Mata sitting on-point waiting for disgorging
For the tour I joined a group that included the winery’s importer in China based in Beijing, who were joined by some friends and customers. The tour began in the winery with the Communications Manager Maria, who I was happy to help explain the methode traditionelle process to the other visitors. The winery is using some pretty high-tech equipment, but it is only utilised if it doesn’t interfere with the natural and traditional elements of the winemaking. The cellars are where the wines are aged, and bottles are riddled using giro-palettes the same as in Champagne. We were then joined by the Commercial Director Joan Moliner i Cols and one of the daughters of Agusti, Lali. After a brief tasting of some of the still wines they now produce from indigenous varieties we sat down to an exquisite and technically innovative lunch, as several of the courses included a reduction of different cava wines so it had the consistency of syrup but still had bubbles. The cava wines tasted over lunch were extraordinarily good and showed that the skill of blending and extended ageing on lees had a huge influence of the quality of the wine. Click here to read my notes from the tasting.

ATM Cava Rose reduction on fresh strawberries

Click here to see more photos from Day Two in Penedes. Next week I journey west through Rioja and Navarra, starting with a visit to Bodegas Roda on Monday.

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