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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Visiting Cellar Door: Catalunya

Catalunya

Catalans consider themselves as such before they consider themselves Spaniards. They are fiercely proud of their region, and many speak Catalan language.

The picturesque, bustling city of Barcelona provides a ready market for their various styles of wine – not only to the locals but the the hoards of visitors that cram Las Ramblas to soak up the almost palpable atmosphere of excitement and all-year-round entertainment this wonderful city has to offer.

By far the most famous of thier wines is cava – Spains answer to France’s champagne.

Around 90-95% of Spanish Cava is made here in the Penedès DO to a similar traditional method as Champagne, usually from the grape varietals Parellada [preferably] or a nuetral Macabeo, with increasng amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietals imported from France.

There’s also plenty of reds to try here from the likes of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha Tinta [Grenache].

As if Barcelona itself is not enough of a drawcard – with its magnificent Gaudi delights, street performers on Las Ramblas and La Sagrada Familia – you may be surprised to know that some of Spain’s most famous export brands are not far away.

By far the easiest way to see some bodegas in action is to jump on the train from Barcelona Sants station to Vilafranca del Penedès. Here you can find the wine museum, boasting a wide selection of antiquities to do with wine.  Cost of entry into the museum at time of writing this page is only a few Euro per person, and this includes tastings as well as your souvenir wine glass. Pretty good value. You’ll find the museum at Pl Jaume I. Check with the tourist offices in Barcelona for opening times first, as they vary during Summer and Winter.

Torres vineyardsAlso in Vilafranca is Bodegas Torres. This wine giant family have been operating in the area since the 17th century, however it wasn’t until 1870 that Don Jaime Torres established the company, on returning from making his fortune in oil and shipping in America.

These days the fifth generation of the family still runs the place, however it’s a long way from what would have been primitive beginnings. The staff here are obviously happy in their work, because they’re incredibly welcoming and helpful.

A tour of the vineyards and bodega usually starts with a 15 minute video about the company, followed by a mini-train ride around the property, passing through the vineyards, a guided tour through the caves [cellars] where the wines are stored meticulously for aging, and a look at the bodega operations along the way.

The tour is available in English, and is free, including the tasting at the end!   There’s also a phenomenal wine/gift shop. The downside is: the taxi fare from the train station to the Torres Bodegas will set you back around €9 each way.  Mind you, the taxi’s are clean, modern and airconditioned – the drivers very friendly, knowledgeable and they’ll try to speak to you in English.  All you need to say is ‘Bodegas Torres‘ … they’ll know where to take you.  No, there’s no bus.

To soak up the Cava story is even easier. Get back on the train and get off at Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. There right next to the station is the caves of Freixenet.

Freixenet claim to be the 9th largest wine company in the world; certainly most people will be familiar with their sparkling wines.

Again entry to Freixenet’s cavas is free, tours are in English, and you get to ride in a little train around the facility and climb deep underground to see their caves in action. There’s also a preliminary video to acquaint you with their company, the region and Cava.

The staff are incredibly friendly and accomodating – the tour really is a pleasure. Of course there’s the obligatory tasting a the end, and a gift shop so you can pick up the freshest stock on the way out.   You won’t need a booking – just drop in. But don’t get impatient if you have to wait a little while for others to come if you are alone or just a few of you.  If you have a group, they’re happy to take a forward booking. Check with the tourist office in Barcelona.

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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Wine Touring

 

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