Wednesday 10 September 2014

Cava tasting at Pere Ventura, Sant Sadurni d'Anoia

No visit to Barcelona is complete without a tour of the Cava vineyards.  The province of Catalonia, of which Barcelona is the capital, is a heaven for foodies and wine lovers.  The Spanish bubbly - or Cava - is as much the soul of Catalans as Champagne to the French, or Riesling to the Germans; and here in Catalonia, Cava making is regarded as a time-honed family-kept tradition, not a cut-throat branding war that are played out by conglomerates.  Here in the Cava country, families and traditions still matter, and pledging allegiance to a wine maker is no less a sport than picking a football team.

This isn't my first time to Sant Sadurni d'Anoia, the capital of Cava making.  I have paid numerous visits to different wineries and vineyards, but one stood out among the rest:
Pere Ventura.  A short distance outside the town proper, is the home of this young cava maker.  The year 1992 proudly adorns the wall and its literature, which - I only found out later - modestly hid the fact that Mr. Ventura's family traces back to its wine-making heritage in 19th century, when his great grandfather Manuel Montserrat Font helped produce the first bottles of Cava at Codorniu, a brand familiar to every supermarket wine shelves. 

The present house was in fact founded in 1992.  Mr. Ventura made no pretext about his work and his brand: Pere Ventura is his name and that's his name you see on every label.  At my first visit, I did not make reservations, as is my routine (to see a winery as it presents itself to every visitor, not for special guests or wine critics), and I was met by a young attractive guide Ms. Carla Alentorn who cheerfully led me through its elegant premise into the spacious tasting room. 

Their most accessible bottle is the Tresor Reserva.  Even at this mass market range it was a cut above the rest: nice and firm body, with butter and floral notes, and excellent acidity.  Wanting to explore deeper into the house style, Carla showed me the Cupatge d'Honor 2011.  A blend of Xarello (a native grape of the Cava region) and Chardonnay, both being able to accommodate long ageing, this is a wine that is remarkably expressive.  Pale yellow with golden hues, very fine bubbles, intense aromas of ripe fruits and vanilla, the delicate but firm palette came as a surprise - a wonderful surprise. 

It was hard to put down the Cupatge d'Honor 2011, but we moved on to Maria del Mar Gran Reserva.  This is a blend of all three Cava grapes: Xarello, Macabeo and Parallada, with a dash of Chardonnay, which was only discernible on the palette.  Its aroma attests to a much toastier, yeastier, riper expression; on the palette, a complex smoky and toasty note accompanies a creamy, velvety mouthfeel.  It evoked the most extraordinary sensations.

Needless to say, we picked up cases of the two.  The listed price was 18€ and 16€, respectively, with concessions on purchases in cases.  I also purchased a book on Cava with a casual request that Mr. Ventura would autograph it.  A few weeks later I returned for more and was delighted to receive the book with a heartfelt autograph.   

Next time when you are in Barcelona, make time to visit Sant Sadurni d'Anoia; and if you could only stop at one winery, make it Pere Ventura.

Official website:
Address: C-243a, Sant Sadurní d'Anoia.  It's not the easiest address to find.  Study the map before you go.  It is opposite another cava maker, Canels & Munne. 


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