In Penedès, this is made from Chardonnay and the local grape varieties of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel·lo. Despite the dominance of white grapes for Cava, Penedès also produces high quality still wines, both red and white, including those from Tempranillo (locally known as Ull de Llebre). Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay too have been adopted and are often blended with local varieties.
A bilingual city with a culture distinct from the rest of Spain, Barcelona offers a wonderful mixture of history, landscapes, laid-back beach bars, contemporary shopping, hedonism and Gothic architecture. All this within walking distance! La Sagrada Familia is not to be missed, a building evidencing the rich and ongoing history.
Typical Catalan dishes offer fresh and fine ingredients, including monkfish, squid and prawns, as well as the regional Allioil sauce, tapas and Crema Catalana to end. The famous La Boqueria is an ingredient overload with fresh foods to perch upon a stool and try, or simply take in the sights and smells as you wander the stalls.
The birthplace of Cava, invented in the early 1870s, the Catalan region was the first in Spain to adopt stainless steel fermentation tanks. Terra Alta and Penedes are two more commonly known Catalan wine regions, producing a variety of grapes from Gewürtztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sauvingnon Blanc and Chardonnay.
We leave London in the morning and on arrival in Barcelona we transfer to our city centre hotel. We enjoy a guided walk before our first tasting together, which we will be treated to over dinner.
This morning after breakfast, we travel inland to the Penedes wine-producing region where the majority of Cava production takes place. Our first visit is to Rovellats. Cava firms are either called industrials or artisanales. Rovellats are known as the latter, and make for an excellent comparison to the other Cava houses. A small, delightful cellar with a good traditional product that is unmistakably Cava with a heavy perfume and a rich, slightly earthy taste. Our next stop is Miguel Torres, where we have a private visit and tasting over lunch.
Torres are perhaps the most renowned of all Spanish wine companies. In the UK, Torres are known for their excellent wines such as Gran Coronas and Gran Vina Sol, but to the Spanish, Torres is a brandy firm. We enjoy a full range of Torres Cava and also try their still white and red wines over lunch. After, we return to Barcelona and the rest of the night is at leisure.
Today, we head north of Barcelona to one of Spain’s smallest and oldest wine regions, the DO of Alella. Our first visit is to Alta Alella, from where there are great views over the city and down to the sea. The first vines were planted in 1991 and today the range includes local varieties of Pansa Blanca, Mataró and Macabeu, as well as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. There is also a new natural range following organic principles. After our tasting here, we travel the short distance to Bouquet d’Alella. This family-run vineyard was planted in 1990 and today there are around 13 hectares of terraced vineyards planted with Monastrell, Garnacha Blanc, Grenache Noir and Syrah (among others). We enjoy hearing about the history of the estate and tasting these wines over a picnic lunch. Later, we return to Barcelona and the rest of the evening can be spent at leisure.
This morning, we explore the food aspect of Barcelona as we discover the city’s most delicious homemade seafood paella and take a look at the vibrant Santa Caterina Market, where we can also taste Iberian ham and gourmet cheeses at family-run market stalls. The rest of the day is free for you to explore Barcelona. Spain’s second largest city and principal port, Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia. Famous for its artists and architects, among them Picasso, Antonio Gaudi and Joan Miró, there is much to visit in this fascinating city. There is a wealth of architecturally interesting buildings from the Art Nouveau (Modernisme) explosion, which occurred in the 1900’s, to the old town that has some wonderful medieval buildings. The Barri Gòtic (‘Gothic Quarter’ in Catalan) is the centre of the old city of Barcelona and some buildings date from the Roman settlement with a great number of these also being UNESCO-listed. We enjoy a light tapas dinner together tonight
After checking out of our hotel, we travel to the estate of Codorníu. The oldest family-run estate in Spain and among the oldest in the world, Codorníu has more than 450 years of experience in the trade. In 1895, Modernist architect Josep Puig i Cadafalchi was hired to develop and enlarge the winery, which was subsequently declared a National Historical-Artistic Heritage site in 1976. Codorníu is historically an important estate having been the first winery to establish the ‘Méthode Traditionelle’ whilst incorporating grapes varieties of the Penedés: Macabeo, Xarel·lo and Parellada. After our visit, we continue to Barcelona Airport for the return flight home.
Lys is an established lecturer on the wines of Europe and is an expert on those from both Italy and Spain. She has a degree in Art History and a love of Mediterranean history. Lys ran her own wine tour company for over ten years and her vast experience will undoubtedly enhance your enjoyment of the tour.