Sabi Phagura heads to Northeastern Spain to experience the Wines and Cavas of Catalonia Fair
Many people love wine. We can all enjoy a glass or two with friends over dinner or a catch-up. But can you attend a festival such as the Wines and Cavas of Catalonia Fair if you’re not an expert? In short, the answer is yes.
That’s because ultimately wine tasting is unique and personal to the individual. So when I was invited to Barcelona’s 35th edition of the Wines and Cavas of Catalonia Fair, I didn’t feel out of place. In fact, I got to taste great wines and even learn about them as I travelled around the region sipping them.
In the last five years, winery participation here has shot up by a staggering 181%. More than 150,000 people visited the fair this year. And as we travelled to see various wineries, it was easy to see why everyone wants a slice of the action. You can find everything from small to large vineyards and family run ones to those on a commercial scale. No one vineyard or winery is the same. And despite visiting three per day, there was always something new to learn and see.
One of our first stops was the La Vinyeta Winery in Mollet de Peralada which set the scene of a family run business. Passionate about wine, owners Josep and Marta set up the winery from scratch on land that wasn’t deemed ideal to grow grapes. Even the locals looked at them crazily for taking on the venture. Owner Marta explained how difficult it was but they persevered and today they grow 19 different types of grapes on site. Today they run an organic farm and keep various animals including chickens who feed on the skin and pips of grapes as well as herbs to produce organic eggs. For those wanting to extend their tour of the wine making process, they can rent one of the two apartments on site and really live the unique experience.
Moving on to Abadal Winery in Pla de Bages, and we were taken back in time – to the eighth century to be exact. Here we got to visit the old cellar of the house (XII) under the original house preserved in its original state. It’s one of the gems of the wine culture and history of this area. It houses 200-year-old barrels which the family guard like treasure. A must see here is the museum on site which is a private collection of vehicles, trucks and antique tools that the family used for winemaking over the centuries. Wine is still produced here of course, but today it has a modern cellar – quite the contrast from yesteryear as you can imagine.
Walking around a vineyard is truly beautiful to appreciate the smell, touch and the labour intensive work that goes on behind making a wine. And while I thoroughly enjoyed my walk around the vineyards during my stay, a visit of the Oller del Masery in Manresa as part of a 4WD tour was amazing. And the cherry on top? A wine tasting in the middle of the field complete with a beautifully laid table full of cheeses, bread and cured meats.
Cavas are just as popular in Barcelona as wines, and Cordorniu is one of the biggest producers in the area. Based in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, the establishment is central to the folk that live in the area and I am told that almost every person in the family have worked for or are working at the winery. And while it’s a tourist attraction it also feels like a close-knit community. The 30km long underground cellar is really spectacular. Clearly we never walked the long path, but having a cold drink at the end of the tour in an open trailer like train felt like being at an amusement park.
Hotels love to show off a good wine from the area. The five-star Hotel Peralada Wine and Spa Resort does that very well. Absolutely everything is homemade here from cheeses, to bread to the olives and cured meats. Food is integral to any wine tasting, and we were able to enjoy a Mediterranean haute cuisine of fish, meat dishes and vegetables naturally paired with numerous wines.
I admit I won’t become a wine connoisseur in a hurry, but I definitely know more about them before I went out to Barcelona. From learning how the grapes are picked by hand, to the riddling process where bottles are turned 1/8th daily, and how long wines are kept in cellars to be labelled a specific wine, was absolutely fascinating. I certainly will be thinking carefully the next wine I drink to get the full pleasure of the taste, texture and smell. Who knows, I may even impress my friends with my newly found knowledge when I’m next around a dinner table?
Wines and Cavas of Catalonia Fair – Where and How?
For more information, visit www.catalunya.com.
For hotel stays, visit SB Diagonal Zero (from 80€), Hotel & Spa Terraza (from 50€), Hotel La Garriga de Castelladral (from 132€), Osteria Ibai (from 120€) and Hotel Sants Barceló (from 120€).