Let’s talk about my new favourite beverage, cava.
For those of you that may not know, cava is a Spanish sparkling wine. Only wines produced in the champenoise traditional method may be labelled cavas and about 95% of all cava is produced in the Penedès area in Catalonia. Which I like to think of as cava country.
We took the 30 minute train ride out to Sant Sadurni d’Anoia on the Sunday morning, which we quickly learned is home to most of the cava in the region. It’s a teeny, tiny town settled in the gorgeous countryside of Catalonia. I love trains in other countries (especially when you know for sure you’re on the right train, otherwise not so much fun) because you get a glimpse out of the big city.
My sister had heard the Codornuí winery tour was a wonderful time, so we had every intention of heading out to their winery.
We hopped into a taxi for a short 5-minute drive to the vineyard (pricey too, over €15) to have an early Sunday morning cava tasting, naturally. Unfortunately, they didn’t receive our reservation and we were told it was “imposible”.
However, we did not let it get us down! We called out another taxi (again, another €15) back to the train station, where we thought we saw signs for Freixenet vineyards right next to the station.
We walk up to the beautiful grounds, only to discover that sadly, the tours were all booked. The staff here, however, was incredibly nice letting us know that the English tour about to start in 15 minutes is full, but the Catalan tour is open right after that. We could watch the English video and hope someone doesn’t show up so then we can take their spot, and if not, we can go on the Catalan tour.
As we were walking into the video our adorable guide said “good luck!” hoping we made it on to the tour. Imagine our delight when we walked out the video and the reception gave us a little thumbs up. Let me tell you, so much nicer than the Codornuí staff! For €8 we had a two-hour tour at the vineyard, including a lovely glass of Frexienet.
Lots of my family has been in the alcohol business so for some reason most trips I end up going on incorporate some type of brewery/wine/gin/etc tour. Last year in Boston I went to the Sam Adam’s Brewery, in Portugal we went to the Croft port wine cellars, last year I also went to the Smithwicks Brewery in Kilkenny, hell even when I was 10 we toured the Beefeater plant. And, I actually have an ambassador card for the Guinness Factory here, so if you’re visiting let me know I’ll get you a discount! Ha!
However, I really don’t feel like I know that much about sparkling wine at all. I found the Frexienet tour to be very educational without being boring. We kept going down stairs and it became more and more clear why they are called wine cellars. These cellars are seriously old and are used to store cava for years as the maturity changes the flavour of the wine so much. Also, the further you go down, the cooler it gets and therefore it’s very economical to keep wine down there.
As you can see, the wine is stored on a diagonal for a little while, then is transferred into thousands of rows of wine. Now I won’t get into all the technicality of cava making, because I think if you’re in Barcelona you should probably take a half-day trip out here.
Their tasting room is great and it’s almost like having a little celebration whenever you cheers with some bubbly. The other part I loved about the tasting, is that you could try over 18 cavas just by the glass. A lot of time when you go out places in Spain, you have to commit and buy the bottle as a lot of places only have one kind that you can buy by the glass. The glasses here were fairly inexpensive (€2.50-4/glass) and are all different types like rosé, brut, semi-brut etc.
Our favourite was definitely the classic, cava semi-dry, however my mom knows and loves the negro brut. Jess and I had spent most of our time drinking rosé wine on our trip, so we were excited to try the rosé cava, which we thought was good but not great. It was still fun to have a few to try between all of us.
We had a lovely little buzz leaving the tour and I will have warm memories from the trip.
Logistics: Take the train from either of the two main stops in the city Passeig de Gracia or Sants Estacio. We hopped on a train at Passeig de Gracia, to transfer to Sants Estacio then took the train directly to Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. The ticket people all spoke good English and were really helpful to get us there and tickets were about €6/each roundtrip. The trains all have the stations listed in a digital readout, so you know where to get off. You’ll see the Friexenet winery right when you get off the train and the signs are very clear to how to get there as well. Have fun!