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Tag Archives: Penedés

Malvasia de Sitges: A grape born from mercenaries and knights

Hundreds of years before Catalunya became part of Spain, the land was under the control of the Crown of Aragon; a kingdom that stretched from the Iberian peninsula through southern France, modern-day Italy, and as even as far as Greece. Without a standing army, conquests and vengeance were exacted in the name of The Crown (our whoever had the gold) by troops of ruthless, long-haired, fast-moving Catalan mercenaries called almogavars. In 1303, led by the infamous Roger de Flor—an Italian-born Templar Knight, commander of the feared “Catalan Company”, and namesake of my first (temporary) address here in Barcelona—a troop of almogavar foot soldiers set sail for Constantinople to protect the city from the invading Ottoman Turks. They were under the pay of the Byzantine […]

History of Jazz in Catalunya, Spain

Welcome to the Vi Jazz festival in Vilafranca del Penedés: balmy summer nights, free Jazz concerts galore, and abundant local wine in the historic center of this modest Catalán city of around 40,000 inhabitants. Dating back to the 12th century, Vilafranca is the economic engine and heart of the Penedés wine industry. While Penedés garners most of its international prestige from the crisp, bubbly cava that flows like rivers through the daily lives of the people of Catalonia, the region also produces whites, reds, and rosés of admirable quality. Interestingly, though wine takes center stage all year round in Vilafranca, on every first weekend of July, Jazz music from around the globe shares, if not dominates, the spot light. The […]

A Celebratory Milestone in the Vineyards: Budbreak

Whether it’s the sight of a flower blooming, or if you’re David Attenborough, the birth of baby elephants and tigers, the first glimpse of Spring does wonders to raise our spirits. A walk in the countryside or stroll in the park will reveal new growth in the flower beds and on the trees and the whole world seems to come alive once again. For viticulturalists and winemakers, Spring brings the same exciting feeling of expectation in the vineyards, as it’s the time of the first crucial milestone in the year-round process of producing wine – budbreak. Budbreak signifies the start of a new vintage and all the hopes and hard worth that come with it!  However, as important a time […]

Interview with Catalunya Tour Operator: Nico James

Editor’s Note: Nico James has been a long time friend of Catavino. A daring entrepreneur, with a wicked sense of humor, he’s been our “go to” man whenever we need a fabulous tour of the Penedes. Today, we’ve asked Nico to provide you a little background on what drove him not only to Spain, but to wine.    What is your background and how did you end up in Spain and working in the wine industry? Before I was bitten by the wine bug, I was working in Sales for a multinational company, but ever since I returned to Spain in 1999 food and wine was always top of my agenda. Towards the end of 2004 I was set on working […]

Mas Candi: Reinvigorating the Native Grapes of the Penedès

As we’ve boasted on many an occasion, the Penedes is an unlimited geyser of native grapes. From our beloved Xarel.lo, a white chameleon grape capable of displaying intense tropical fruit and mineral aromas, to Samso, a vivacious and precocious  red grape, the Penedes is a multifaceted palette of flavors. Yet, despite our undying support for this treasure trove of gorgeous fruit, it’s uncommon to find a winery equally dedicated to preserving its native resources. Over the years, wineries have eagerly ripped up their perfectly disorganized vineyards, chock full of native grapes, to plant internationally renowned grapes. Though varieties such as Chardonnay, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Gewurztraminer have crafted some impressive wines of both personality and quality in Spain, it […]

Icewine in the Penedes: The First Electrically Defined Wine

<rant>Twitter this past two days has been flooded with news that the Penedes region of Spain has approved a new DO for the category of Icewine. Reporting in Decanter Magazine, David Furer states: In Penedes grapes are frozen in a cold room, refrigerator, or with dry ice. Freezing on the vines is allowed, but in practice seldom takes place. Sugar additions are forbidden. The harvested grapes – Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Malvasia de Sitges, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Moscatel de Alejandría, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and/or Merlot – must have a minimum of 240 grams per litre of sugar. The final wine must contain 70-150g/l residual sugar and an alcohol content of 9.5-13.5%. Currently there are no rules stipulating altitude or soil type. […]

Sustainability in Winemaking is a Philosophy, Not a Religion

A few days ago, we mentioned that we were attending the II International Conference on Organic Viticulture, Sustainability and Climate Change (EcoSostenibleWine 2010) being held just south of Barcelona in Vilafranca de Penedes. The aim of the conference was to disseminate information on the latest technology in sustainability, organic procedures, and means to reduce the advance of climate change among winemakers and viticulturalists alike. Over the course of 2 days, of which we attended 1, over 40 speakers from around the world fought, with a few exceptions, to convince the 480 participants that the earth was our responsibility and that there were simple and effective ways reduce your impact, increase your production and foster and new way of thinking. What […]

Barcelona: Which Wineries You Can Visit By Train

Quite often, we receive requests from people visiting Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon or Oporto, as to which wineries they can visit by train, taxi or foot. Our responses have commonly been, “Good question! And to be quite honest, I don’t know!” Well, maybe Oporto is the exception, as you have a plethora you can get to, but the rest are rather iffy at best. As mentioned in several articles on Catavino, enotourism in Iberia is rather primitive at best. Very few wineries even allow visits, less have someone speaking anything other than their regional language, and just a handful will actually go out of their way to make your transportation to their winery convenient and easy. That said, we decided to […]

A Couple of Wine Notes – Montau de Sadurní

Recently, Ryan and I were inspired by both Lenndevours and Spittoon, two wine blogs on either side of the vast Pacific Atlantic, for creating simple and straight-forward articles on wines they’ve tasted, and at times, just haven’t had the opportunity to share with others. Due to a large quantity wine notes slowly slipping through the cracks and not seeing the light of day, we’ve decided to follow suit, by also sharing wines we’ve tasted, despite the fact that we may not have visited either the winery or the region. Consider these little breathers away from our normal mammoth-sized educational posts. When possible, we’ll try to include some information on the wines availability and any relevant facts that came through in […]

The Festival of Sant Joan and an Incredible Rosé Cava

I sometimes like to believe that my father is a master pyromaniac in the most docile sense of the word. The week before Independence Day, my brother and I would pile into the back of my father’s car and go for an hour and half car ride north to Wisconsin, where it is legal to buy firecrackers, but just not use them. I remember these times fondly, walking into makeshift tents set up alongside the highway lined with dozens of cardboard boxes overflowing with clown colored tubes with names like Bottle Rockets and Dragon Twisters. My dad would always break the bank that day, and like a kid in a candy store, he couldn’t say no to things that light […]