When I start writing a review, I try to do some research on the wine and on the producer to get a feel for a the story. I love a good wine combined with a good story. And I think I am not alone with this as almost every producer, old and young, have some lines on where they have come from and what their philosophy is on their website. Yes, it’s more interesting to buy a wine that has been picked, pressed and mixed by a person/ persons than, let’s say, comes from a mass production line. Who would say: this bottle is one of millions produced, mixed for the taste of the mass consumers and a pair of hands has barely touched the product before it is lifted on the boutique shelves. No, at least to me, wine should have a story; a passionate winemaker or a well thought out production. For me it’s a part of the experience of drinking wine. I don’t like blind tastings either, so what can I say, I’m a sucker for good marketing.
About Vilarnau: I set out to do my research and to my disappointment, the web pages, that were supposed to be in English, were not. Well some pages were, like the ones with facts about the wines. But not the ones introducing the producer. But thank’s to Google Translate, everyone is a linguist these days. The house of Vilarnau is located in Sant Sadurni de Anoia, the capital of Cava. There is a family history, but I must say, google translate does not produce 100% reliable text, and it all sounded pretty boring so I’m not going to write about it. Today Vilarnau is owned by the Gonzales Byass Group, one of Spains most known Sherry producers. They own 20 hectares of vineyards growing Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the cava trio: Xarello, Parellada and Macabeo. They also grow some Trepat that is often used for making Rose Cava. Sounds pretty standard but that of course doesn’t mean that the wines themselves wouldn’t be great. My impression from Cavatast, where I tasted Vilarnau cavas the first time, was pretty good.
The Gran Reserva 2010 is the premium product from the Vilarnau family of Cavas. It is a Brut Nature (less than 6g of residual sugar per liter), 35% Macabeo, 35% Parellada and 30% Chardonnay, and it is aged for 36 months. On the Vilarnau website it is described as golden yellow, but I must say the color looked pretty pale yellow to me (I cannot argue what it looks like under the Spanish sun, as Sweden has not seen the sun in months). We started of tasting the wine at 11 degrees (as that is the temperature of our wine fridge), but soon discovered that the instructions recommend a clearly cooler temperature, 6-8 C. So into the ice bucket it went, and my oh my did that make a difference. I am used to a warmer temperature contributing to the taste, but this time the wine gained body with cooling. The nose of the wine was of peaches and apricots and the taste very dry, even slightly sour, with yeast and high acidity of fruit. After a marathon of champagnes over Christmas, I was refreshed by the familiar taste of a good, well made Cava.
This particular Gran Reserva is not available in Sweden (we brought this bottle from Barcelona), and I am not sure if it’s value for money with a price of 20,85 € in Spain. Yes, I liked the Cava but I can get a better bottle for 30% cheaper. However, I noticed that the Monopoly has the Vilarnau “standard” Brut in their special order selection for 79 SEK (equivalent to around 10 EUR). Perhaps that could be something to try, as one can see from the Gran Reserva that the House of Vilarnau do know how to make a good Cava.
All in all, I will probably be visiting the Vilarnau stall again next October when it is time for Cavatast again. They are an interesting producer to follow. I give this wine 4 stars for overall quality (excluding the influence of price) and 2.5 stars for “value for money”.(4/2.5). That is a pretty steep drop, but I really think that over 20 € in Spain is overpriced. Spain is a pretty cheap country when it comes to wine, so I don’t even want to imagine what the Monopoly would charge for it.