Category Archives: What to drink?

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.

Lable or content? – How do you judge your bubbly? …Honestly?

I love blind tastings. I love them because they are so honest. There is just the wine and your taste buds, nothing else to lean back on.

Maybe I like this form of tasting because I’ve never felt the pressure to ”like the right stuff”, so I can really relax and be honest. But the wine world is a curious place and not always that welcoming if you don’t have the right skills or opinions. This makes people nervous and I guess that might also be the reason for many to avoid blind tastings. It can be such prestige to name the wines by grape, producer, vintage or what ever is the task at hand. In my opinion that is not what’s interesting, and it has never been my goal to be good at that kind of thing. I focus instead on what I like, and helping others in finding what they like, and that I’m really good at.

Hosting blind tastings I always have one goal, namely finding out what people really like when they turn just to themselves and stop caring about labels, price tags, and ”know-it-all” wine people telling them what is good and what is not. Getting people to do this can be rather tricky though, for there is a notion that you should like certain types of wine to ”have good taste”. For example, to admit that you don’t like the certain style that Champagne has… that takes guts. Because by doing so you basically break every social code there is. Champagne is the essence of passion, glamour, good taste, luxury ect. And by saying you don’t like it, you kind of put your self out of all those contexts too, and who does not want to be glamour’s and have good taste?

So making people let go of all these preconceptions and instead focus on what they like (or maybe don’t like) about each wine, is much more interesting. During these tastings lively discussions always break out after a while when the participants has taken the task to heart. Some people like the ”peachiness” in one glass, others the high acidity in another or maybe the smell of roasted nuts in the third, and this is where it gets interesting. Because by letting consumers focus on what particular tastes or aromas they like in a wine, I can guide them in what style, grape, method or maybe area they might find more bubbly wines to enjoy. It simply makes the wine hunt easier.

In my personal opinion life is all about good wine, nice food and the company of those I love and like to spend time with. If the wine I drink costs 10 Euros or 100 Euros does not really matter as long as I like it, and it goes well to the food and or occasion. Sometimes it is cava, other times it is Champagne or sparkling from South Africa.

And if you think about it too, would you not honestly be happier to drink something that you really love, rather than something someone else really loves or says is good taste?

Time for PINK!

Now summer is really getting close and today with the super nice weather we had I just thought I’d write a post about Pink, that I have planned for so long.

Yes indeed the rosé season is upon us for real (even though I’d happily drink rosé all year round), and the hunt has begun to find new favorites.
Here in Sweden we have been so lucky as to get Parés Baltà’s, Pink, on the shelves of the monopoly, and it has quickly become something that very often can be found in my fridge.

Pink is a wonderful rosé cava of the medium pale sort I’d say. Based on two white grapes, parellada 32% and macabeu 30%, it gets it color only from the 38% garnacha. I must say that it is a great blend. The Parellada gives it elegance while the garnacha naturally brings the read fruits. The macabeu on the other hand must be the reason why this blend does not “tip over” with ripe strawberries, raspberries and alike, like so many rosés do, leaving you with a “jam-like” taste on the tongue. Pink stays elegant, balanced and fruity, with a nice finish, and jam is really the last thing on my mind!
I’d say that Pink is a lovely cava just to enjoy the way it is, in the afternoon sun, but I’m sure it would go well to lots of sallads and many types of tapas.
And by the way… don’t be fooled by the white control mark on the cork, it is really aged for 18 months, and hence a Reserva, although a very vibrant sort.

Here in Sweden it is a real bargain too, only 99 SEK, which is good value for money in my opinion. And I forgot to mention that it is hundred percent ecological/biodynamic!

To be honest I had a glass after my run yesterday evening. I thought I had earned it. 

If you’d like to see what Parés Baltà has in their portfolio in general you can find all the info you need at: http://www.paresbalta.com

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/

Family    fullsizerender-7

The Spanish wine day in Stockholm

This Monday I saw a lot of friends at the Spanish wine days in Stockholm. I must say that it is very practical to be able to see so many people at the same time. I got to taste some new interesting things as well and my youngest (3 months now), got to “enjoy his first wine fair. I think the older one was about the same age when she got to visit her first fair. 😉

sangriaAmong the happy events was that I had the pleasure to see my friend Lotten that works for Freixenet here in Stockholm. She is just the best and I had not seen her for a long time. Between all the catching up I got to taste their new Sangria that is fresh out of the Mia-series made by Gloria Collell. I do make my own sangria normally, but I can really see why this ready-to-drink-sangria is going really well here in sweden, and that it soon will have its own listing at the monopoly. Fresh, fruity and not overly sweet. Of course it is sweet because sangria is suposed to be, but less than I was expecting. There is both a red and a white for 79 SEK if I remember correctly. I only tried the white, that is made from macabeu grapes and juice from both lemon and orange. Really perfect to ad to the picnic basket I’d say!

Gramona was also represented by their wonderful importer, Terrificwines. Anderas is truly passionate about the wines he represents and had a crowd around him constantly. We could catch up a tiny bit at least and I could taste Gramona Imperial 2011, which is the latest vintage that I had not yet tried. No disappointments there. Gramona delivers every time.

I also had the pleasure to see the representative of Castell D’Age, Olivia, that I have long since wanted to meet. So now finally when we go down for cavaTast we will make a visit to the winery, and I promise you a full report. Castell D’Age has really nice caves that are all ecologic which is always a plus.

Last but not least I got once again try the wonderful caves of house Torelló, that has FINALLY come to Sweden thanks to the importer Lancell. Thank you thank you thank you! I can’t say anything else than that I love what they do.

It is not easy going to a fair with a 3 month old baby, but I must say that he was a real champion! But one hour was more than enough before we headed home.
Now I’m preparing him and his sister for all the wonderful wine visits we will do ones we are back in Penedés. If I’m lucky they just might like it and grow up to be winemakers themselves! 😉