The first time I tasted Codorníu Brut Clasico Cava was at the Codorníu cellars in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia in Penedès, Catalonia, in April 2016.
This traditional cava, Catalan’s answer to champagne, made from indigenous Penèdes grape varieties, Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parellada was fresh, fruity with a delicate floral aroma and an elegant mousse. It was refreshingly dry and very balanced. I loved it.
The distinctive limestone soils of the Penedès hills gave Codorníu Clasico a pronounced minerality, that I did not find in cava I tried from other wineries.
The winery itself was an architectural marvel. Designed and constructed by a leading exponent of Catalan modernist school, Josef Puig i Cadafalch, it was declared a National Historic-Artistic Monument by Spanish King Don Juan Carlos in 1976.
I was visiting the Codorníu Raventós winery as a part of the media team of the 8th Annual International Wine Tourism Conference IWINETC 2016, held in Barcelona, Catalonia.
Sitting there drinking this exquisite cava, I wondered how long it would be before it became available in India.
Not too long it seems as VBev, a fast-growing company that imports, markets, sells and distributes international wine, beer and spirits across the Indian sub-continent, has partnered with Cordorníu Raventós Group, the oldest family-owned cava and wine producer in Spain, and introduced some of their premium Spanish wines in the Indian market.
These include Codorniu Clasico Brut Cava, Viña Pomal Rioja and Veranza.
It is Cordorníu that is credited with the creation of the category of sparkling wine known as cava, in the year 1872. Made by the same method as champagne, where the second fermentation is done in the bottle, the word cava actually means cellar in Catalan.
Initially, the grape variety used by its inventor Josep Raventós Fatjó was Xarel.lo, an indigenous cépage not affected by phylloxera raging in Europe at that time. Later it was blended with Macabeo and Parellada to add more fruit and elegance.
Even though more than 95% of cava is made in Cataluña, mostly in and around the town of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Cava D.O is not restricted to a single delimited area and sparkling wine made in certain municipalities in Valencia, Aragón, Navarra, Rioja and Basque country can also be called cava.
Codorníu Raventós is Spain’s second largest cava producer after Freixenet, with a majority of the company’s revenue coming from the sale of different labels of their premium cava. Know as pioneers in the business, they were the first to use Chardonnay in cava with Anna de Codorníu in 1984 and once again in 2004, the family created a stir in the Spanish cava market by launching the first 100% Pinot Noir Rosé Cava. And believe it or not, Codorníu even has an alcohol free cava, launched in 2010, called Codorníu Zero.
However, it was not with cava but still wines, that Codorníu first began their foray into wine production, when Jaume Codorníu founded Jaume’s winery in Alta Penedès, west of Barcelona in 1551, making it Spain’s oldest winery still in operation and 17th oldest in the world.
Cordorníu Raventós Group is now counted among the world’s leading wine-producing companies and their holdings extend beyond Penedès to wineries like Bodegas Bilbaínas in Rioja, Scala Dei in Priorat, Legaris in Ribera del Duero, Raimat in Costers del Segre and even outside Spain to Artesa in Napa Valley California and Bodega Septima in Mendoza Argentina.
It is the historic Bodegas Bilbaínas, one of the largest and oldest wineries in Rioja Alta, that produces the single-vineyard (viña de finca) Viña Pomal, imported by VBev into India.
Rich, luscious and fruity, made from 100% Tempranillo, award-winning Viña Pomal Reserva is the best value Rioja of exceptional quality, available in the Indian market.
The fruit for both Viña Pomal Crianza and Reserva comes from the estate vineyard, a 120-hectare plot located next to the Bodegas Bilbaínas winery, in the municipality of Haro, in the sought-after La Rioja Alta. The soil here is mostly limestone and gravel and some vines date back to 1971.
Low-yields, old vines and a continental climate impart an intensity and finesse to the fruit and results in wines of singularity and heritage, that is full-bodied, balanced and elegant.
Along with Cordoníu Classico and Viña Pomal Crianza and Reserva, VBev has also introduced two other wines from the Codorníu Raventós portfolio. These are Vernaza Blanco (white) and Veranza Tinto (red), both easy drinking wines produced at Finca San Miguel in Valle del Cinca (Huesca).
Veranza Blanco is a blend of Chardonnay, Airén and Muscat with flavours of citrus, stone fruit and melon. It is fresh, zippy and light.
Veranza Tinto is a young red (Tempranillo & Cabernet Sauvignon) with ripe red fruit and a touch of spice. Since it is low in tannins, you can even drink it without food.
These wines have been chosen keeping the Indian wine palate in mind and also the fact that they pair excellently with Indian food.
Sumedh Singh Mandla, the dynamic CEO of VBev said at the launch, “We foresee great success for Vina Pomal Reserva and Crianza in Horeca (Hotel/Restaurant/Café) and in premium retail space. Veranza wines offer very good quality fruit forward wines at sharp pricing while the Cordorníu Brut Clasico is a well-structured cava with a rich bouquet of aromas and eye-catching packaging, perfect for Indian palate and ideal for gifting”.
The same views were echoed by Gaëtan Lefeuvre-Brand Ambassador, Codorníu Raventós who is impressed by the professionalism of VBev and believes that their Indian partner will help them achieve their objective of quality distribution and education, leading to strong co-operation.
One wishes Codorníu Raventos a great innings in India with VBev.
By: Lavina Kharkwal
The MRP in Delhi of the wines mentioned above is as follows:
1. Codorníu Clasico Brut NV-Rs 2490
2. Viña Pomal Reserva- Rs 3490
3. Viña Pomal Crianza- Rs 2990
4. Veranza Blanco-Rs 1490
5. Veranza Tinto Rs 1490
To know more about Cava, do read my article on Grand Cava Tasting by Master of Wine Sarah Jane Evans during IWINETC 2016