Category Archives: Travel

Hasta luego, Hasta próxima or Hasta pronto?

Three weeks in and the Spanish is progressing you might think? Well I guess it does, but in the back of our heads where we don’t notice. My mind still goes blank in restaurants, and I sometimes find my self repeating verbs… Yo tengo, tú tiene, el/ella tienes, nosotros tenemos, tienen…
Its like my mind is constantly occupied with kids, cava, Instagram, friends, food, excursions, times to keep, book keeping, taxes and on top of it all Spanish. My brain must think I’m insane to try to learn something new in a already overloaded and over heated state of mind. Well we will see if I can make it fly or if I’ll crash and burn.

Three weeks in with people coming and going Andreas and I have that strange feeling that we just came, and at the same time that we have been here for ever. Even though our departure is just one and a half week away, thinking about going home feels strange and unnatural. I suppose that is one of the signs of us growing accustom to Penedés and that we honestly see it as our second home. Its a nice feeling. Hopefully we will have the chance to spend more time here since we are now looking for a hose to rent long term, and maybe we will look at some houses next week. Its all very exciting and that would mean that all of you reading the blog could come here and rent it. Since we will then also rent it to friends when we are not there our selves. I’ll tell you more about it when it happens.

One thing that I think I have got a grip on though is the meaning of these “good buy”-fraces…
Hasta pronto = we will see each other soon and you know it will be during that same day.
Hasta Luego = we will se each other soon but don’t know exactly when.
Hasta proxima= we will see each other later and that can be a day a week or a month. Who knows.
Hasta mañana = see you tomorrow.

Torelló -Where tradition meets perfection.

Driving from Sant Saduní d’Anoia, we take the winding road up towards Gelida. Like so many times before we turn left at the sign marking the private road leading to Can Martí de Baix, and the Torelló winery. This time the sign looks older and the paint has started to fall off a little bit. The road finds it’s way down between the vineyards and silver leafed olive trees, and I recognise one of the old tractors ploughing in between the vines. Harvest is over for this year and it is time for the old vines to get some rest before the pruning starts in January. We drive over the bridge that takes us over the motorway, leading between Barcelona and Tarragona, but funny enough we hear nothing of the sounds from the AP-7 when we have taken the last dive leading down to the old property. I almost forgot how peaceful it is down here in the valley.

Can Martí de Baix, is a unique Catalan property and the Torelló family has been growing grapes here since 1395, and you can really feel the history echoing in the cellars and halls when walking around.

The first time we visited Torelló, Andréas and I, were struck by all the details. The old cellars and the stones that make up the walls, the old vines that has been pulled up out in the vineyards and kept as decorations in the cellars, which always reminds me of life and how we all grow older. I must admit that the cellars here are my all time favourites. I never grow tired of walking up and down the narrow corridors of bottles, listening to Toni telling the Torelló story. Toni, together with his brother Paco are running Torelló, together with their parents, and are by doing so continuing a tradition that has been kept within the family since the Middle Ages, actually now on the 23rd generation. It is really incredible when you think about it, and I once asked Toni what would have happened if he and Paco had wanted to pursue other careers? Smiling he answered that luckily neither of them wanted to do anything else. The vines and wines are in their blood and they belong here. Lucky for us I must say, because without the Torelló cavas, the world would be a much duller place.

The family only grows their own grapes both for wine and cava, and there is nothing they don’t do themselves, through out the process. Their long winegrowing tradition has thought them how the lands around Can Martí works and how the vines should be kept for the optimal quality. They grow xarel-lo, macabeo, parellada, chardonnay, pinot noir and garnacha for the cava production and another five varieties for their still wines.  All the grapes are grown ecologically and of course picked by hand. They are also sorted a second time when they arrive at the winery to make sure all the damage grapes are taken out. The pressing is then done with nitrogen in the press to avoid any oxidation in the base wine. This is especially important since Torelló only produces Reserva and Gran Reserva cavas.  With most of their production aging for more than 30 months, it is especially important to avoid oxidation if you want to keep the fruity freshness when the cava grows older.

They do succeed in my opinion, since the cavas coming from Sant Martí always hold a very high quality. Like distinguished ladies they carry their age with grace and never lose their finesse, elegance or ability to intrigue.

Why visit an Island that has no wine?

I recently came home from Capo Verde, after two weeks’ vacation. For you who don’t know this place so good I can give you a short overview.

Capo Verde is a group of islands, ten in fact. They are situated outside the African west coast almost on the equator. This makes the weather very stable, around 24-27 C with a slight breeze and sun basically every day. Pretty nice if you like that sort of thing.

The two main tourist islands are Bona Vista and Sal, and we visited the latter. The problem with these two islands is that they are made of sand and they produce NOTHING!! And when I say nothing I mean nothing! The only thing there is on Sal (and I presume it counts for Bona Vista too) is sand, tourists and tuna fish. The beaches are as you can understand wonderful! Sand…
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The tuna that you get yourself on the pier in St Maria is straight from the ocean and super cheap (4-5€/kg), so if you can cook that’s super. You can of course get the same tuna at the local restaurants but to be honest, very few know how to cook it, and it is often fried dry.

My biggest problem was not the lack of everything though, but more to the point the lack of wine.  Since Cabo Verde is situated where it is it does not produce good because of the warm climate (it completely lacs acid). The islands that produce wine are mountain islands, but clearly these mountains are not high enough.

So as a self-catering tourist you are completely in the hands of the importers that import EVERYTHING to the island. Except tuna…

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I think that Andreas is drinking a cuba libre made from the local spirit “grog” which is basically “moonshine”.

And I find the problem to be this; Most people that come to Sal stay at the “All-inclusive resorts” and these import everything by themselves, while the natives are (mostly) very poor and I don’t think they prioritize to buy wine. So the population for whom there is imported wine is the stores, is the few tourists that cater for themselves and for a selected few natives. This group must be very slim indeed since it is very hard to find anything better than a Portuguese table wine that you can afford, or want to buy. We found one bottle of standard Moët on a shelf for 999 €. That might explain the wine situation.

IMG_0099So the question is why you would choose to freely go to an island for two weeks where there is literally no wine, bubbles, red or white… Well the beaches are fantastic and so is the weather, so they are perfect for getting a good tan and reading a book. If you like surfing and kite-surfing you have probably been on these islands already. And there is always tuna and the local beer Strela!  Will I go back? Yes probably, but then I’ll stay at a hotel.

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Visit in the mountains – Heretat Mont-Rubí

fullsizerenderA great visit in my opinion, is when you get the feeling that you are at home, and this was exactly  what I felt when we went to HMR -Heretat Mont-Rubí, during our trip to Penedès this time. It is a rare feeling I must say.

This winery is up on about 600 meters above sealevle, in the mountain behind Guardiola de Font Rubí (If you know your way around Penes) 😉 and up there the view is just amazing. I can imagine that it is a bit cooler in the summer too, which is nice for both grapes and people.

img_6855We had a look at the grapes that had just been hanged in the shed next to the winery. These are to hang here until January, when they will be pressed and the very concentrated must will become “Advent”, which is HMR’s superb dessert wine. It had taken 2 weeks to hang all the grape bunches individually!

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We also had a look when the winemaker, Josep, stirred in the tank where grapes were macerating. A short film of this can be seen on my Instagram account @thecavalady.
The tour continued and we ended with a tasting of there fantastic and very special wines. HMR are very focus on Garnaxa and Sumóll, the latter being a local grape. This makes their portfolio very special indeed. They also makes whites, and then based on Xarel.lo, that you all know well from traditional cava making. HMR does not make cava though, but keep to their wines.

img_9986-2E also liked the visit, but luckily the Ipad was brought along, so there was something more fun to do when the grownups could not stop talking when we were on our way to leave. 😉
And luckily the dog, Blanca, was a good friend to play with too.

Here below are some more pictures.

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Castell D’Age, finally!

fullsizerender-4We have for three years wanted to visit Castell D’Age with our friend Lars, but with kids and a limited time it just did not happen until today. But better late than never as they say.

fullsizerender-2We got a tour by the fantastic Olivia, who knows the winery inside out. This is not so strange since Olivia is the daughter of the family who owns and runs the company, and like her mother and grandmother has her own cava named after her. And a great cava at that!

Castell D’Age makes about 100 000 – 150 000 bottles a year and of this 80 percent is cava. They make all aging levels and both super dry brut nature and some sweater styles too.
They are fully biodynamic since about five years back, and Olivia tells us that it has made a huge difference in the vine yards, with the biodiversity and health in the vines. It must be working since their cavas are very nice and definately something I would happily recommend to any cava fan.

My favorite is funny enough the Olivia. But I really recommend you to try for yourself because the chance that you might find it where you live is pretty good, since 70 % of all the cava Castell D’Age produce goes on export, so their spread is pretty large. You can get more information on their website. http://castelldage.com/

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