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Castell D'Or
by
Kathy and Terry Sullivan

Castell D'OrSummary: Castell d’Or is a large business overseeing a group of winery cooperatives. The purpose of Castelll d’Or is to help participating growers with vineyards. Castell d'Or also helps wineries with up to date equipment, technology, marketing and sales of the wines. At one of their facilities, tourists have an opportunity to stroll through a museum hall in the wine cathedral located in L'Espluga de Francolí.

Castell D'OrCastell d’Or is a company formed by a group of winery cooperatives housed in several locations throughout Catalonia. Founded in 2005, some of these cooperatives have deep roots, being over a century old. Castello d’Or controls the wine growing, the winemaking and marketing of wines and cavas both nationally and internationally. For example, in the vineyards, Castell d’Or purchases the sprays that the farmers use to spray on their vines. In the winery, for instance, on the up-to-date bottling line, there are check points where each individual bottle is scrutinized and defective bottles are removed from the line. Castell d’Or provides a high level of quality control.

Castell d’Or ensures members a high quality product. It also provides better compensation to its cooperatives and growers. The nine members of the Castell d’Or include Abadia Mediterrània, Castell de la Comanda, Cossetània, Esplugen, Flama D’or, Flamaroja, Francolí, Puig de Solivella and Templer.

With a staff of 28 people,Castello d’Or controls 2,800 hectares (6,919 acres) combined in all vineyards. Typically harvest is 30,000,000 kilos of grapes. Farmers receive advise from a Castell d’Or employee about the viticulture techniques in the vineyard and when to begin harvest. The first grapes harvested are for cava production. The cooperative has a team of winemakers at three facilities with a large modern laboratory at one facility for analyzing wine samples. The winemaking team of four or five, led by head winemaker Joan Rabada, work on the coupage. Castel d’Or seeks consistency from year to year. To reach this goal the team controls the alcohol, aroma and taste.

Castell D'OrTour and Museum

We visited one of the buildings in the Castell d’Or family, Francolí, in L'Espluga de Francolí. In 1913 Pere Domènech i Roura, a Gaudi disciple, constructed the wine cathedral designed by his father Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The building consisted of two naves. Over the years additions and alterations were made. Cèsar Martinell, also a Gaudi disciple, additionally worked on the winery.

The wine cathedral is a must see for wine tourists. From the front of the building, we saw brick walls with three apexes reach into the sky. Colorful stained glass windows highlight the cathedral style of the building.

Castell D'OrDuring our tour, visitors will walk through the cellars viewing cava bottles. Farther along, we enjoyed a museum starting in a long aged hallway, that offered views of artifacts such as an amphora, vineyard sprayer and oak barrels. Along the walls are backlit pictorial displays of the history of the building and the people involved.

Castell D'OrWalking up the stairs to the ground floor we saw the nave of the wine cathedral with its many wine vats. These vats are no longer used for wine production. Later we ascended another set of stairs. We walked on pathways viewing the many arches hovering over the tops of the vats. We saw the cathedral-style windows at the far end. Along the walls there are additional informational displays. While visiting, take a moment to observe the brickwork and many arches near the ceiling.

After the tour of the winery, we went to one of the nearby vineyards that provided a glimpse of stony soil that gives a mineral quality to the cavas and wines. The vineyards stretch out in the distance towards a large monastery, Monestir de Poblet, a Cistercian monastery founded in 1150. The summer climate for the vineyard is hot days then cooling a bit at night. Fortunately for the vines, the climate is dry.

Castell D'Or

Castell D'OrCavas

The 2007 Cossetània Gran Reserva Brut Nature was a blend of 30% Macabeo, 50% Xarel.lo, and 20% Parellada. The yellow colored cava had many beads of bubbles forming a large mousse on the surface. The cava offered aromas and tastes that were reminiscent of citrus, green apple and freshly baked bread. The cava had an active, lively mouthfeel and fruity finish.

The Francolí Brut Reserva was a blend of 50% Macabeo and 50% Parellada. Lively beads of bubbles rose to the surface forming a mousse on this yellow colored cava. Mineral, green apple and freshly baked bread were noticed on the aroma and taste. There was fruit yielding to mineral on the finish and aftertaste.

Retail Shop

We discovered that visitors have the opportunity to purchase a variety of products. A table is set up outside the shop doors, with different olive oils and vinegars to taste. In the shop Castell d’Or cavas, still wines, as well as olive oil and miscellaneous products are available for purchase. Castell d’Or products are exported to 27 countries including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Japan.

For tours, appointments should be made with the winery.

Castell D’Or
Passeig de Josep Ma. Rendé i Ventosa
43440 L'Espluga de Francolí
(Tarragona), Spain

 

Article written June 2015



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