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In Search of Cava, Found in a Wine Cathedral

100914aOur search for Cava began in the Penedés region of Catalonia, Spain. After checking into our hotel, Sol i Vi, we headed to Andernats Vinícola de Nulles in the town Nulles. This small town once had inhabitants that grew grapes and made wine at their homes. There were no wineries. Then phylloxera destroyed the vineyards, the towns people decided it would be better to work together than separately. They started a cooperative in 1917. The group hired César Martinell, a modernista architect known for designing wineries that were cathedral-like. The winery building was started in 1919 and completed in time of the first crush of 1920.

Over the decades Andernats Vinícola de Nulles stood as a cathedral of wine allowing the citizens of Nulles to grow grapes and sell them to the winery. Today, 130 growers sell their grapes to the winery. The winery staff does exert some control over the grape growing process.

100914bThis winery is unlike any others that I have seen. It looks like a cathedral from the outside. The brick on the inside contrasts with the white clay/lime vats and tanks. The vaulted ceiling is what you would expect to see in a church. Walking through the winery, our group was led to a second floor above the vats. This area was large and spanned the nave. We walked around the large airlocks from the vats below. Windows were cracked open to allow cool air in and carbon dioxide out. One section was set up for a dinner that would have Catalan foods paired with Cavas.

The setting was wonderful with brick work surrounding us and the vaulted ceiling above. The dinner consisted of five courses paired with wines. Our third course was special. We were asked to put on blind folds. A wine was place on our plate as well as a food item. In darkness we tasted the wine and ate the food. It was easy to guess that the wine was a Cava. Some in the group correctly identified the Cava as the Reserva Rosat made from the Trepat grape. A little look is worth a thousand finesses. The food items were placed on a skewer and included a cherry tomato, watermelon, pineapple and another cherry tomato. This ended up being rather fun to try to guess what you were drinking and eating while blindfolded.

100914cWe tasted several Cavas in the tasting room and later at dinner where we had still wines and Cavas. We began our tasting with a Reserva Brut Nature Cava DO, a blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada. The light yellow color Cava with 11.5% alcohol had mineral, apple and some lemon with a very crisp finish. The Cava retails for 5.50€. The Reserva Brut Cava DO was a blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada. The light yellow color Cava had 11.5% alcohol. It offered mineral, apple and pear and a very crisp finish. It retails for 5.50€.  The Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava DO was also made with Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada grapes and was a yellow color with 12.0% alcohol. The bottle fermentation lasted 40 months resulting in aromas and tastes of freshly baked bread and apple hints with a crisp finish. The Cava retails for 13.25€.

The wine cathedral was a marvelous example of architecture. It works well for a winery.


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