Tag Archives: Sparkling wine

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.

“To uproot one would be to uproot ourselves” The story of a vineyard

Since I will have the great opportunity to host a very special prestige tasting on Wednesday, where Turó d’en Mota will be one of the cavas we will taste. I thought I’d publish the article I wrote on this extraordinary cava for Glass of bubbly last year.

“To uproot one would be to uproot ourselves” The story of a vineyard

The first time Ton took us up to see Turó d’en Mota, I did not want to leave. There is something very special about this vineyard and it cannot be explained, you have to go there. Some people would perhaps say that it is a blessed place, spiritual or full of positive energy, if they experienced what I do when I go there. I will just say that it is something very special about this vineyard that makes me relate to it in a way I have never done, to any other patch of earth planted with vines.

Turó d’en Mota means “the hill of the Mota Family” and was planted in 1940. The vines are crocked, thick and seems to have lived a good but hard life, and every one of them has an appearance and personality so they could easily all have individual names. The plot is not big, only 0.97 hectares and a couple of years ago the vines growing there were sadly and abruptly decreased.  
Apparently it had been raining that night, and someone was out “skidding” with their car on the muddy roads around the vineyards and crashed into Turó d’en Mota, taking about ten vines with them in the crash, if I remember correctly. Unfortunately these vines were not as lucky as the driver to make it out of this crash alive.
How do you explain to someone how much these vines mean to the family that owns them, how do you explain what they are worth, how irreplaceable they are? Ton once said that “To uproot one would be to uproot ourselves”, which might give a glimpse of what he must have felt when he found out about what had happened.

I’m glad though that this vineyard has lived 76 years this year and that most of it is still intact, because that means that we will be able to continue to enjoy the wonderful cava coming from its vines. It is, my friends, something out of the ordinary.
About 3000 bottles comes out of the approximate 4 400 kg of xarel-lo grapes harvested yearly by hand. Fermented first in oak for two weeks and later aged for a minimum of 120 months in the Recaredo cellars, this cava is unique in so many ways. When the first vintage (1999) came out, it was the first single vineyard cava ever made, and also the first monovarietal cava made from the xarel-lo grape. It is a perfect expression of the land it grows on, and you can clearly smell and taste the calcareous soil, the rosemary, thyme and fennel growing on the hill just next to the vineyard, and even though it is aged for over ten years, it is still fresh and vibrant.
So for all narrow-minded people who say that cava cannot be aged… they have clearly not tried Turó d’en Mota. 

Now it has been at least three years since we last visited this fantastic plot and I must honestly say that I miss it. Every time this year when we have driven passed the exit road leading up to Turó d’en Mota, just outside Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, I have thought that “Next time” we will take that exit and just drive up to say “hello” and see how the vines are doing. But no, that never happened, and now I sit here in cold Sweden with -15 C outside and can’t stop thinking if my friends the vines by the hill, will see any snow this year? I think they would like too.

“Turó d’en Mota is a way of explaining our history; it is a memory, a way of relating to each other, of getting to know one other. Above all, it is a chance to appreciate a landscape.” -Ton Mata

Cava de Paraje – The new elite of cava

I should have written this a while ago but better late than never says the mother of two small children.

In June this year Consejo Regulador del Cava decided on a new classification to help us consumers understand that there is true quality to be found in Cava. Something many Cava lovers (including myself) have been trying to explain to our fellow sparkling drinking friends.
Cava has a big problem in the fact that many people see it as an inexpensive alternative to Champagne. It’s not really a product in itself, but rather something that can act as a replacement when the wallet feels a bit thin. The lovers of Cava of course know better, because we have seen how the small scale producers work and have tried their wonderful sparkling wines. But these cavas get drowned in the massive quantity of cheep bubbles that flood the wine shelves of the world.

Bottles in rimaSome of the problems DO Cava has today;
-It’s not one region, even though 95% of all cava is made where it was once born. That is in Penedés and the Anoia valley. There is actually over 150 places in Spain that are allowed to make sparkling wine and call it cava!
-Nine grape varieties can be used, and not only the local ones traditionally used, but also Chardonnay and Pinot noir. I’m not personally against it, but it does make the “cava profile” very wide and hard to grasp. Some might say “what profile?”.
-Cava has no Grands Crus, Premiers Crus, no sub-regions, no clear system at all actually apart from the three aging categories where “Gran Reserva” is the oldest one. What about cavas aged longer than 30 months??
But to try to make the premium segment of cava clearer the regulatory board has now come up with “Cava de Paraje Calificado”. This basically means cava from one site or place. Not the most simple word to pronounce if your not native… but lets not get hung up on that.

The rules for Paraje:-All the nine varieties are allowed: Xarel-lo, Macabeu, Parellada, Malvasia/Subirat Parent, Chardonay, Garnaxa, Monastrel, Trepat and Pinot noir.
-Maximum yield of 8,000 kg/ha or 48 hl/ha
-36 months ageing in bottle
-Only vintage wines
-Only Brut (or dryer)
-The wine cannot be acidified, and it must have a natural acidity level of 5.5 g/l (measured in tartaric)
BUT a very important rule is that producers can only get cavas qualified for Paraje if they vinify 85% of their own wines. That means that many of the producers will be excluded just because they do not own enough of their own vi
nes. There are so far 24 producers interested in presenting cavas for this new classification, according to the latest news from the regulatory board.

There are a lot of challenges within the DO Cava for sure, but it is really good news that something is happening to make people understand Cava better!

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A day for foodies and other lovers of life!

This Saturday we spent with other food and wine loving friends. We were chefs, food bloggers, crasy foodies, food stylists, photographers, authors, sommeliers, youtubers, (and others), who met up to fill a whole day with just food, wine and nerdy things that has to do with just those two things. We learned how to “style” food for pictures, cook absurdly nice desserts (and learning all the tricks to make it look advanced when its not), tried some extremely nice cavas and cooked more strange food. All this thanks to my friends who run the food blogg “glimten i grytan”. Me and Karin did a Cava TV episode about cava and swedish Semlor a while back). Here below you can see how the day developed in pictures.

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Every one went abit “bananas” since we all got 20% off on everything. And “foodies” in a specialiced “kitchen appliance store”… well you can imagine.

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Andréas and Ulrik were happy with their findings. Andréas boutgh a copper pot among other things…

 

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Food styling with Liselotte Forslin and Ulrika Ekblom. Next time we write a book we will do it together with them. It will ba a “tapas and Cava” book. Andréas will do the reciep, I will write and they will do the rest. 🙂

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Johan Hedberg aka “Matgeek” came and thought us so many good things! We also got the chance to buy his book about butter. I’m thrilled!

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One of the two very nice desserts that we “made” with Johan. He also tought us a trick, how to always succed with our marangs!

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Everyone ready for cava Mater class, with seven wonderfull cavas Gran Reserva. Cavas Hill, Vilarnau, Juvé y Camps, Castell d’Ange, Llopart, Gramona and Recaredo. Everyone were very excited and happy to be able to try such a great line up!

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Cooking together with Kristoffer who is a professional chef (and ecpecially good in spanich food). We did three wonderful and very special dishes. Great fun and we learned so much!

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Asparragus with pickled coltsfoot and rosted buckweat. Strange but so good.

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“blood pancakes” with sour milk, rum and dill.

After this we went home and slept like loggs! But the day was amazing and we met so many new friends that have the same interests as we do. Hopfully we will all keep in contact through social media.
Thanks to everyone who particiapted and a million thanks to Karin and Ulrik who organised it all. AND a big thank you to all the producers who made the fantastic cavatasting possible!