What is it about a jam packed weekend of activity that can create such a deep feeling of satisfaction inside me? Granted, spending time around the house can be equally fulfilling, but hiking to the summit of Montserrat Mountain called Sant Jeroni standing 1,236 meters (4,055 feet) above sea-level on Saturday, followed by a Cava Tasting in heart of Cava country on Sunday, produced an intense sensation of achievement. I think part of the reason for my sense of accomplishment is because we don’t have a car, a scooter or basically anything containing two or more wheels. Hence, every time we leave our little city, we have to dedicate an entire morning to organizing which public transportation option is the most effective, syncing up timetables in order to make our transfers on time, packing necessary provisions like extra clothing and camera equipment, as well as debating whether we should carry a lunch or enjoy a leisurely two hour tapas adventure wherever we end up. Suddenly, a simple day trip feels like a year long journey around the world. Yet despite the amount of planning – a now carefully guarded skill I never once considered while living in the States with my car conveniently parked outside my door – I’ve grown accustomed to the adventure.
Attending our second annual Cavatast in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia most definitely fit the bill of adventure. Taking the hour and a half long train ride to the heart of the Penedes, where the majority of vines have already been stripped of their ripe fruit, we spend an the entire afternoon tasting cavas that were oaked and unoaked, aged anywhere from 2 to 7 years, and ranged from fabulous to mediocre. And like the tasting we attended along the Barcelona waterfront during the festival of Merce, Cava Taste is intended as social event, not a professional wine tasting event. So rather than having big Cava houses monopolize the tasting, you’ll find smaller wineries who would rather keep their production small and intimate. Selling wines from the doorstep of their bodega allows many these wineries to practice their primary vocation, keeping winemaking as a family tradition or hobby. Allow me to give you an example. When we presented our card to one winemaker, a man four times my size with eyes as big as saucer bowls and deep chortle, he cringed as he gripped the paper in his enormous paws. Without even knowing our intention for giving him our card, he immediately went into a ten minute rant on how he didn’t want us to sell or import his wine, fearing that we would sabotage the nice comfortable lifestyle he’s made for himself.
Our intention was only to inform him of our desire to write about his bodega on Catavino, but he immediately assumed we wanted more from him. I wonder if his reaction was based on hubris, concerned that yet another person wanted him to sacrifice quality for quantity. What we wanted was the opposite. The entire reason why we want to feature him in an article was to praise his desire to remain quality driven, focused on producing the absolute Spanish wine he could. When he finally understood our intentions, he became softer, less defensive, ending our conversation with a clink of our glasses and an open invitation to visit his bodega.
Although I wish we had brought friends with us, like we had the year before, I’m glad we went. I never get tired seeing families drink wine together with children running underfoot. If you sit and watch, you’ll see little heads bobbing from booth to booth politely requesting the metal caps that sit inside each cava cage. Why? Because every bodega creates a line of “plaques de cava”, or cava caps, which are considered hot collectors items. So popular that dozens of organizations have been formed to pool everyone’s collection together. The goal is then to flaunt whoever has the most diverse and unique collection in the region. It’s fun and it provides a great incentive to get children involved in the culture of cava! If you’re interested, take a second and look at just one organizations, “colleccionistes de plaques de cavas”, collection. Once you enter their website, here, click on: novetats de plaques.
Hey, maybe it’s time you start your own collection of cava caps?!
I’d like to say we’ve put in our best effort to begin our own collection, but I’d be lying. It seems that we either forget to keep them, can’t find the super glue to adhere them to our board, or discover them months later under the coach where our cat was practicing his hockey shots. And to his credit, he’s pretty good!
Cavatast is worth you attending if you ever find yourself in the Penedes. It’s not only a beautiful train ride from the bustling city of Barcelona to Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, but it is also a fun afternoon spent among hundreds of people who all seem to be family.