Golden Bubbles: 50 Great Cavas 2017-Part II

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Wine Pleasures announces the Gold medal winning Cavas for 2017

By winepleasures

Champagne Collet: Sparkling ever since Champagne Wars

Raoul Collet, the father of Champagne COLLET, was born into a family of wine makers in the year 1896, and was a witness to the Champagne wars of 1911.  The origins of Champagne COLLET go back all the way to the Champagne Revolution of the same year.

He was born in the municipality of Ay, in the Grande Vallee de la Marne region famous for Champagne.  These regions were rife with fraudulent champagnes and unregulated practices for profit.  Producers were mixing grapes coming in from other growing regions and marking these wines as Champagne, which would be absolutely unthinkable today.

A small group of wine growers banded together in a firm to protect their terroir and the quality of Champagnes being produced, as well as keeping age old traditional practices alive.  The revolting wine growers pushed until they had successfully enacted a law that defined geographical limits and production methods of the Champagne winegrowing area.

After the Champagne Revolution, Raoul Collet became a wine merchant in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ.  Then in 1921, the movement of this small group of wine growers and makers gave rise to the brand Champagne COLLET, naming Raoul Collet it’s founder.

Their history goes back over 100 years, and in this time only five presidents have been at the head of the firm.  In this way, they have maintained a commitment to their values with an uncompromised dedication.

Champagne COLLET is the oldest established wine making cooperative in Champagne.  Currently 607 faithful wine growers contribute to COLLET’s Champagnes, sharing with one another common roots and pride in this brand. Their collective efforts go towards cultivating and processing grapes from over 650 hectares of extremely high quality vineyards.  Together they produce superior and luxurious Champagnes.

Caves Champagne ColletThe terroir in these vineyards imparts beautiful and subtle characteristics to the vines that have been carefully tended to for years.  House experts blend the wines and are able to continue the legacy of Champagne COLLET by maintaining special aromatic characteristics over the years, which are a signature of their champagnes.

Afterwards, the bottles are passed to the extremely skilled hand riddlers, and set to rest in the underground cellars that spread out for kilometers underneath the village!  There they allow bottles to mature so that the Champagnes may develop the unique tones that come with aging, deepening the character of the Champagne.

Champagne Collet Esprit Couture 50 Great Sparkling Wine of the WoldTheir range is extensive, including classic Brut Champagnes as well as rosé, demi-sec, rare vintages and their most premium Champagne, the Esprit couture.  The Esprit couture is produced in very limited quantities, and acts as a celebration of Raoul Collet as well as the traditions that are the backbone of this brand.

This elegant Champagne is made entirely by hand and perfectly captures the style and philosophy behind Champagne COLLET.  The wine producers of Champagne COLLET are accomplished craftsmen, whose sole aim is to create the most authentic Champagne.

Champagne Collet has the following Champagnes amongst the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016

  • Champagne Collet Esprit Couture (Gold medal with 98 points)
  • Champagne Collet Colletion Privée Vintage 2006 (Gold medal with 98 points)
  • Champagne Collet Millésime 2004 (Gold medal with 96 points)

 

Caves São João Fundadas em 1920

Caves São João is a well know name in the Portuguese wine industry as it is one of the oldest wine trading companies in the country. The small family owned wine company was originally established by three brothers, José, Manuel and Albano Costa in 1920. Amazingly the company still remains in the family, with two of the grandchildren of the founders now overseeing the operations of the independent company.

Caves São João 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016 by Wine PleasuresHowever, maybe one of the most remarkable features of the company is that it is home to one of the biggest wine cellars with the numerous underground tunnels stacked with over a million bottles of wine with some dating back to 1959.

For the first ten years, the company was primarily involved in the trade of Douro fine wines and liquors; however in the 1930´s, the production of Port Wines outside of the O´Porto region were banned by the government. This lead to Caves São João moving into the trading of Bairrada Table wines and the production of their own natural sparkling wines with Indigenous grapes.

However, it was from this experiment that the company made a significant impact on the Portuguese wine industry, as in the 1950´s, the company created two of the most iconic Portuguese brands; Porta Dos Cavaleiros from the Dão region and Frei João from the Bairrada region.

Caves São João 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016 by Wine PleasuresLater in 1972, the company bought a 35 hectare rural estate known as Quinta do Poco do Lobo located at Pocariça, in the Cantanhede region. The estate was then completely replanted with selected grape varieties; the indigenous Arinto (white) and Baga (red) grapes. It was from these grapes that the company now produces their red and sparkling wines under the label Quinta do Poco do Lobo.

Caves São João 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016 by Wine PleasuresCaves São João now dedicates itself to the production and commercialisation of sparkling and still wines, using their extensive experience as one of the oldest wine trading companies in the Anadia County.

However despite their grand history, the company has made a number of significant investments, resulting in the company now being equipped  Caves São João 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016 by Wine Pleasureswith the most modern winemaking technology.

For example the stainless steel vats now allow for a more delicate handling of the grapes as the automatic crushing system replicates a movement which is very similar to the human foot. These changes combined with additional improvements in the both the winery and vineyards, have allowed Caves Sao Joao to continue to produce even greater quality wines.

Caves São João has the following Sparkling Wine amongst the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016

  • Luiz Costa 2013 (Silver medal with 92 points)

 

Taste Portugal Journeying Through Casca Wines

Casca Wines is a winery with a difference. It began as the brainchild of two young wine makers, Frederico Gomes and Helder Cunha who established Casca Wines with the intention of creating a world renowned brand of quality Portuguese wines. However instead of investing in land through acquiring vineyards, farms and estates, Casca wines works with producers of grapes from regions all over Portugal, only using the finest grapes to create each wine.

Frederico and Helder as the owners and winemakers are complety dedicated to producing high quality wines in attempt to renew Portugal´s unique tradition in winemaking. Their previous experience in winemaking in both California and Portugal is evident in the wines produced which combine both present tradition and modern-day ideas.

Casca Wines 50 Great Sparkling wines of the WorldOver sixty four vineyards across Portugal provide grapes for Casca Wines located across eight main regions; Vinho Verde Minho, Douro, Dao, Bairrada, Tavora – Varosa, Colares, Tejo and Alentejo.  Thanks to the climatic diversity between the regions, Casca Wines are able to produce a wide range of wine styles using grapes from across the country.

Furthermore, within each region there are also micro-climates and sub-regions which only add more variety amongst the grapes used. Casca Wines work with and learn from the vineyard owners in each region to ensure the best fruit is produced and used.

Casca Wines 50 Great Sparkling wines of the WorldThe age of the vines vary greatly between the regions and individual vineyards.  The Vinha da Padiha-Branco vineyard in the Tejo region is home to vines which are 106 years old; unsurprising considering the wine production in the region was first developed by the Romans, reaching its peak in the thirteenth century and has been known as an area of significant wine production ever since.

At the other end of the scale, there are two vineyards in the Douro region, which are extremely young in comparison, with vines in age of only four years. The picking of the fruit runs from August to October and once it has been completed across the vineyards, each lot is fermented in its own separate tank until the blending process is Casca Wines 50 Great Sparkling wines of the Worldready to begin.

The use of wild yeast in the fermentation process requires additional attention from the winemakers; however the results are more than worthwhile; with an added complexity evident in each bottle of Casca wine. Three distinct families of wines are produced by Casca Wines; Monte Cascas, Cape Roca and Bote. Between the three, all of the major wine producing regions of Portugal are represented.

Casca Wines  has the following Sparkling Wine amongst the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016

  • Távora-Varosa Sparkling Brut White Reserva 2010 (Gold medal with 96 points)

 

Goddess of Wine Sparkles in Austria

Helga-Michelbach

Aera Vinum is Latin for “Goddess of Wine” produces exclusive wine that is focused on providing the utmost quality to the most discerning wine connoisseurs.  Mostly marketed towards the hospitality and retail channels, the young winery won numerous accolades and had the privilege of being the official beverage for the Cultural Capital Graz 03.

Started in 2002 it is situated in Ehrenhausen, in the Southern Styrian Wine Route of Austria.  The winery boasts some of the most modern and well-equipped facilities in the Austrian winery region.

The large processing and bottling plant originally built by the Seagram distilling company between 1985-1987 allow for a daily output of 100 000 bottles, and a storage capacity of 2.4 million litres in tanks, yet given these impressive numbers the company has chosen to stay artisanal and focus on quality rather than quantity.

Like most German and Austrian Sekt producers, Aera Vinum uses the Charmat method for second fermentation in the tank for three years for smooth, rich, and well-balanced nuances in flavour and finish.

The company strives to achieve the perfect merger between craftsmanship and quality control to provide consistency and complexity.  This is achieved in addition to a having state-of-the-art facilities at their disposal, with the careful selection and blending of the right wines to create balanced cuvee’s.  For this purpose, Aera Vinum sources out for grapes mostly composed of Riesling, Rhine Riesling, Chardonnay, and Veltliner.  Currently the winery offers three taste profiles -“Baron” (extra dry), “Baroness” (dry), and “Royal” (brut)- something to every discerning connoisseur.

Aera Vinum Wein Royal Millenium Edition 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016The packaging matches the grandeur of the liquid inside, thus making Aera Vinum wines not only a pleasure for taste buds but also for the eyes.  The bottles are specially created out of dark coloured glass with a raised embellished crest and embossed gold leaf and coloured labels on each bottle.  Enjoy feasting the eyes on a stunning bottle while savouring the bubbles and lingering smooth taste of this royal sparkling wine.

Aera Vinum has the following Sparkling Wine amongst the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016

  • Royal Millenium Edition (Gold medal with 98 points)

 

Euro 2016 France – Wine Correlation Theory

Euro 2016 Wine Correlation Theory – what’s that ? Wine Pleasures has developed a theory which will virtually guarantee that you can pick a winner at the Euro 2016 Tournament. So if you fancy a punt at the bookies heed the theory! Successful teams at European and World Cups almost always produce wine. How well a team does is directly related to how good the wines are coming out of that country. So let’s look at some of the 2016 group games so far:

France vs Romania 2 -1 France, clearly a superior wine making country.

Albania vs Switzerland 0-1 A no brainer if you happen to know Switzerland is making great wines. Albania does produce wine.

 

Wales vs Slovakia 2-1 Must be due to the sparkling wines coming on in Wales.

England vs Russia 1-1 No comment.

Turkey vs Croatia 0-1 Two countries making great wine.Could have gone either way.

Poland vs Northern Ireland 1-0 Are Poland must be making some wine?

Germany vs Ukraine 2-0 Some good wines coming out of Ukraine but not good enough against Germany.

 

Apply the theory to upcoming games – Coming up:

Spain vs Czech Republic – No brainer result in terms of wine

Belgium vs Italy – again another no brainer at the bookies

Ireland vs Sweden – Tricky one. Go for Sweden or a draw

Austria vs Hungary – even stevens? Hungary should have the edge.as some wines were at IWINETC 2016

Portugal vs Iceland – Another no brainer

Apply the Euro 2016 Wine Correlation Theory to other games and you’ll get the final two teams and win yourself a fortune at the bookies

Enjoy the games and the wines from their respective countries!

 

Mas Macia since MCCC

The family owned winery on the outskirts of Òdena (Igualada) has been thriving since the 13th Century. Now known as Mas Macia, its name has changed several times over the years while being passed from generation to generation of nephews and sons. However the value and appreciation of its heritage has not withered in the slightest which is evident by the continual use of the old cellars and the preservation of the original country house.

Fermi Bohigas 50 Great Cavas 2013The property spans over 200 hectares with the use of 35 hectares of vineyard, the family enjoys the advantages of having these vines grown close and this means a quick delivery to the cellars.

It was in the late 1920´s that the history of Cava first began at this winery. Originally it was produced and sold only in the local region but its success grew from there and as it has since been passed through the family and subject to the innovation of the winemakers along the way. It is now the key to their success, producing over 600,000 bottles a year with 90% of these being exported.

50 Great Cava roducer Fermí BohigasThe underground cellar built in 1547 still to this day functions as the place for these Cavas to undergo the fermentation period required to produce the high quality Reservas and Gran Reservas.

The impressive hand built cellar with its interconnecting tunnels holding 60,000 bottles each is incredible to walk through. You can appreciate the work that must have been put into such a system, un-phased by the years, apart from some spider webs hanging from the corners and the damp puddles in the path.

50 Great Cava producer Fermi BohigasA treat for visiting tourists is the interactive activity set up where they can not only see how a Cava was produced by the ancestors of this family but they can create their own, cork, label and all to take home as a souvenir. Another truly unique experience is the insight into typical Catalan life from another time.

The house in its very design tells a story of the lifestyle lived. In the centre of the house is a large open space where animals would be herded through. The bedrooms are to the side of the first floor, where it could be kept the warmest and the third floor is used for grinding cereals. Beyond this, the house is filled with pieces of intrigue from the dowry cases of the girls of the family to the enormous dinner set with each piece individually hand crafted.

Bohigas wineryBeyond just another visit on the wine trail, Mas Macia presents the perfect setting for a holistic Catalan experience. Whether it’s a tasting of their Cava stood around a wine barrel in the front garden, or for those visiting in the summer, they can be treated to a show of traditional Catalan dances.

Bohigas have the following Cavas amongst the 50 Great Cavas 2016

  • Bohigas Brut Reserva 2013 (Gold medal with 96 points)
  • Noa de Fermí Bohigas 2011 (Gold medal with 94 points)

 

Empordà Cava Rides the Tramontana to Reach 50 Great Cavas

The Empordà wine region fans out north from the town of Figueres (best known for housing the Dali Museum) in the north-eastern corner of the Girona province and is directly adjacent, to two French DOs: Banyuls and Côtes de Roussillon. To the east, it runs to meet the sea.

The climate is Mediterranean, with the influences of wet winds from the south and cold winds from the north, particularly the Tramontana, which can reach speeds of up to 120 km an hour.

Archaeologists have suggested that vines were introduced here by the Phoenicians in the 5th century BC. The Romans and later the Benedictines developed them. The first Catalan wine treatise was written here in the Sant Pere de Roda Monastery in 1130 by Father Ramón Pere de Novas.

Trobat 2With only a handful of wineries scattered around the Empordà it is difficult to find one to visit. The Catalan word for found is Trobat, so if you find Bodegas Trobat you will be able to say not only have you found a winery, but also one of the only 50 Great Cava producers in the region, namely Bodegas Trobat!

The history of Bodegas Trobat goes back to 1730 but the current winery building only dates back to 1986. Wine production started in the village of Garriguella, and today Bodegas Trobat acts as a leading winemaker and bottler of Cavas and wines in the DO Empordà. Traditional craftsmanship is combined with modern techniques in an ever evolving production of fantastic wines and Cavas from approximately 2,500 hectares of vineyards.

The majority of grapes grown here are Garnacha and Carignan for reds and rosés, as well as Macabeo for whites. These traditional varieties are complimented by new grapes which have been introduced to the vineyards such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Trobat 1A visit to Bodegas Trobat will offer guests an opportunity to view the process of bottling and aging wine and the second fermentation in the bottle for Cava as well as disgorgement by hand. The house of Bodegas Trobat is a beautiful reflection of almost three centuries of wine making! The cool cellars are luminous, with chandeliers hanging from the ceilings and dark wooden door frames with crystal clear glass windows to see between rooms. Beautiful, elegant wooden shelves with rows and rows of bottles of Cava and wine line the grey brick walls.

204600 Celler Trobat Rosat BrutEach year Bodegas Trobat produces 1,000,000 bottles of still wine and 300,000 fantastic Cavas, continuing the tradition of exceptional wine that has lasted almost three hundred years. Tours are available and guests must contact the winery directly for more information.

Bodegas Trobat have the following Cavas amongst the 50 Great Cavas 2016

  • Rosat Brut 2014 (Gold medal with 94 points)
  • Brut Nature Reserva 2011 (Silver medal with 93 points)

 

Cava from La Rioja’s Conde de Haro

Bodegas Muga was founded in 1932 by Isaac Muga and Aurora Caño, a husband and wife team of passionate wine lovers. They began with an underground cellar. In 1969 they moved to a 19th century town house situated in Haro, alongside some of the most prestigious wine cellars of La Rioja. It was in that same year that Isaac Muga passed away, and his two sons Manuel and Isaac Muga took over the winery. Today, the latest generation of Muga: Manu, Juan, Jorge and Isaac all play a part in what is now three generations of traditional and skillful winemaking.

Bodegas Muga amonst the 50 Great Cavas 2016Bodegas Muga is located in the heart of the Rioja Alta, at the foothills of Montes Obarenes. This region has outstanding conditions for grape growing, as it sits within the influences of the Continental, Mediterranean and Atlantic seas. These weather patterns harmonize in a way that positively affects the growing conditions for Bodegas Muga. The soil in this region is varied in terms of chemical and physical properties, which creates a special complexity in the grapes which grow here.

Bodegas Muga amonst the 50 Great Cavas 2016Bodegas Muga vines are grown on their 250 hectare estate. They also have 150 hectares which are managed by their regular supplier growers. Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuela and Graciano grape varieties are grown for reds and Viura and Malvasia for whites.

Located in the historic station quarter in Haro, the facilities are installed in an impressive two hundred year old building built of stone and oak. Oak is very important for Muga wines, and Muga is one of few Spanish wine cellars which can boast three coopers and a vat maker responsible for working the wood which lends a special elegance and delicacy to its wine. They have an impressive stock of 200 oak vats and 14,000 casks from all over the world, including French, American, Hungarian and Spanish.

Bodegas Muga amonst the 50 Great Cavas 2016With three generations of wine making experience, Muga still uses many traditional wine making methods, such as using non-invasive pumping methods. Candle light is also used to see the transparency and brightness of Cava and determine if it contains remains of sediment.

Espacio Torre Muga, a gorgeous three story structure with a stand alone tower and a beautiful, sleek and modern reception area, is where wine tourists can enjoy tastings and tours. Special care is taken to use soft and indirect lighting so that tasters may view the true colour of the wines they are enjoying.

50gc 2016 cover medBodegas Muga offers two fantastic delicate Cavas amongst the 50 Great Cavas 2016>>, which are celebrated in this publication: Cava Conde de Haro Brut Vintage, comprised of 90% Viura and 10% Malvasia, and Cava Conde de Haro Rosé, which is 100% Garnacha.

 

The Finest Wine Producing Regions in Italy

If there was a prize for winemaking destinations, Italy would be a strong contender for first place, at the very least. Renowned for excelling with its cuisine, this Mediterranean, boot-shaped nation also turns a stellar hand to viticulture. Here we look at five of the best wine producing wines in Italy.

 

Sicily

The hot climate and volcanic soil have allowed Sicily to offer a list of vineyards as long as your arm. A lot of these produce mere table wines, but there are vintages out there. Seek and you will find. Marsala is one such wine and boasts ruby and amber tones. This is a dessert wine and tastes so good that none other than Lord Nelson himself held a penchant for it. He encouraged the local vintners to produce the wine in large quantities.

 

Campania

The landscapes of Campania, southern Italy, are the place to look for more powerful wines. Produced in the shin of the Italian boot, you’ll find vineyards on volcanic slopes at high levels, which go on to make wines that feel stronger and as if they pack more of a punch than the wines grown in the gentler climes. And it’s in Campania where you’ll find the wine referred to as the ‘Barolo of the South’ — Taurasi, grown from the Aglianico. It’s also the home of the famous Lacryma Christi (Tears of Christ), the white wine which grows in the volcanic soil near Naples.

 

Tuscany and Cambria

It would be almost criminal to omit Tuscany and Cambria from any list of fine wine producing regions in Italy. Chianti, made from the Sangiovese grape, is the most famous kind of wine in the country and when you hear the name ‘Chianti’, you’ll think of Tuscany, whereas the white Orvieto and the red Torgiano are products of Cambria. Barone Riscoli does a fine Chianti and has been producing wine since the 12th century. It’s one of the oldest wineries in Tuscany.

Veneto

Helping to fly the flag for winemakers in northern Italy is the Veneto region. The hills of Conegliano–Valdobbiadene stand out in particular and have been cultivating the Prosecco vine with stern dedication for more than 200 years now. The Valdobbiadene area can take much of the credit for the wine production, whereas Conegiliano hosts a lot of the wine institutes. Since the steepness of the hills prevents the wine making process from being mechanized, the sparkling wines of the region are the product of painstaking graft by small growers.

 

Piemonte

Piemonte is a high-altitude region near the Italian bordered with France and rich reds with complex flavours make up the majority of its output. The region grows the black grapes of Nebbiolo and Barbera, which go on to find their way into famous wines such as Barolo, Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Alba. Looking to experience somewhere that specializes in Barolo, try the home of Guido Porro.

The beauty of Italy is that you’ll never grow tired of visiting its wine destinations. Wine making is quite simply in the blood.

Images by daviddeamico and kekko64, used under Creative Commons license

 

Cava Bertha migrates to the vineyards

Walk through the centre of the Capital of Cava, Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, and you will see a multitude of doorways advertising the sale of Cava. Step in and you will be sure to be invited to go underground to see bottles of Cava ageing on their lees and you will most likely finish up with a glass of Cava Brut Nature. Most of these producers are small and have been for decades. Others have left behind their cramped and restrictive cellars and have built brand new modern facilities slap bang in the middle of their vineyards. Cava Bertha (formerly Josep Torres Sibil) is one such example of this migration.

Cava Bertha amongst the 50 Great Cavas 2016Owner and winemaker Josep Torres Sibil started crafting Cava in 1989 and it wasn’t until 2014 that the move to the present vineyard location, just 2 kms out of Sant Sadurní was made.  Cava Bertha is clearly visible from the “Cava Highway” (the road connecting Sant Sadurní d’Anoia with Vilafranca del Penedès) but actually getting to it can be a bit of a challenge and a bit of fun at the same time. Drive one way and you have to figure out which vineyard to drive through, drive another way you have fast traffic coming at you as you make a U turn.

Bertha 3Once at the winery you are surrounded by vineyards and great views of the mountain of Montserrat and the Subirats Castle. As the winery has only just been built do not expect dark, musty, cobwebbed underground caves, quite the opposite, you will find a practical, clean and well organized work place where Cava bottles can be easily moved around throughout the whole production process.

Cava Bertha amongst the 50 Great Cavas 2016The jewel in the crown at Cava Betha is the possibility of being able to sit outside on the terrace and taste Cavas in the middle of vineyards and admire the panoramic views. A windowed tasting room is available in the event of rain and/or if it is a bit chilly outside which affords the same views that you get from the terrace.

Josep clearly had wine tourism in mind when he gave his architect the brief on how he wanted his winery to be built. Several visit options can be found on the web site including  “A Catalan Breakfast in the Vineyards”  which consists of local cured meats, cheeses, breads, olives and coca (not the Colombian kind but the sweet pastry bread kind typical in the region) all washed down with any or all of the Cava Bertha Cavas included amongst the 50 Great Cavas. The extravagance ends with a visit to the winery, that is, if you are able to get up.

A healthier alternative is the Bertha & Fit which consists of a bike ride, run or walk amongst the seven hectares of Chardonnay, Macabeo and Xarel.lo. Yoga too is available upon request.

Cava Bertha amongst the 50 Great Cavas 2016Cava Bertha have the following Cavas amongst the 50 Great Cavas 2016

  • SXXI Rosé 2009 (Gold medal with 97 points)
  • Bertha Brut 1989 (Gold medal with 96 points)
  • Bertha Lounge 2013 (Gold medal with 94 points)
  • Cardús 2009 (Silver medal with 92 points)

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