It’s time for day two! For those of you who follow my blog (thank you and love you, by the way,) you probably know my affection for champagne, sparkling wines, and wines themselves. Although I’m no wine connoisseur, but I know that I have a passion in this field and would like to cultivate more knowledge about wines through the years to come. Therefore, how could I not take advantage of my stay in Spain, one of the biggest wine producers in the world – while their wines are gaining more international recognition in recent years, their prices still remain affordable and pocket friendly. Initially, I wanted to take a trip around the DOC Rioja (Denominación de Origen Calificada – a spanish wine classification system) but my parents did not seem to like the idea too much. So instead, I settled for a day trip to DO Penedes, an area best know for its Cava production. (Cava is Spain’s sparkling wine, like what Proseco is to Italy.)
After doing some research, it appeared that Lady Luck was on my side since the time of my trip coincides was their annual Cava festival, which is held every year in the town of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, which is merely less than an hour train ride away from Barcelona. We chose to visit the town on Oct, 10th, the day of the Cavatast, the cava and gastronomy fair. Cava producers from the region come to open stalls at the 3-day festival, allowing us to sample hundreds of wines and taste many local dishes. I was especially glad that we got to go to this festival because, normally, the Cavas are produced in small vineyards where producers do not have an open-door policy. Therefore, this is an opportunity of a life time!
We got to Sant Sadurni a little too early and the weather was not too good. We decided to kill time and escape from the rain by visiting the extremely large Cava producer, Cordorniu. They produce 50 million bottles per year! Can you believe that? But they managed to retain a lot of quality and I like their cavas better than Freixenet’s. Although I’m not such a huge fan of very commercial wineries, this was no napa, so I did not have many choices. And Cordorniu did not let us down because their estate was very impressive, starting from the world heritage reception building designed by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch to the 200.000 square metres of underground cellar lined with bottles after bottles of cava. Their cave is so large, they have to have “street names” for each section!
After a tour at Cordorniu where we got to learn the “riddling” process or how they remove the yeast from the bottle, we got to taste two of their cavas – the Pinot Noir and the Brut reserva. I liked the brut reserva better since I tend to like my sparkling wine a little dry and the pinot noir has a sour aftertaste that I often find in Spanish wines also. After we got the buzz going, we walked, yes WALKED, in the rain to the Cavatast since the reception had kindly warned us that a taxi would rip us off. (Well, thanks for the concern but it’s a little too late since we already paid 12 euros for. literally, a two-minute taxi ride to their winery.) So after a short, yet drenching, walk, we turned a corner and immediately heard buzzling sound of people chatting, “clings” “clangs” of champagne flutes hitting each other as happily buzzed festival-goers dropped by from booth to booth to sample the best cavas the region has to offer. If I didn’t know Spanish, I would have thought that “SALUTE!” meant hello!
How the festival works is simple, you buy tickets at the booth scattered around the Cavatast- one “cava ticket” qualifies for three tastings, one meal ticket gets you a dish, one dessert ticket gets you one chocolate, you get the idea. Initially my boyfriend and I thought that one cava ticket each would be enough for my parents but not for us. So we got ourselves two. How wrong were we! After going around from booth to booth, we realized that although the cava tasted slightly different, towards the third glass we could no longer tell the difference. Right then I understood why professional wine tasters spit their wines during tastings! Although I did not get to sample all the wines their, the atmosphere, the energy, and the liveliness from the people made the day my most favorite day of the whole trip!
(Since this post is getting rather long, I will continue about the rest of day 2 tomorrow. Bye for now 🙂 )
Salute! No, I meant Bon Appétit!