A few months back (more like four) I posted a wine review of Vilarnau Grand Reserva 2010. At that time the producer was just a name amongst others, however, with a style of wine that I am very fond of (chalky, minerally with hints of fruit). Then I was complementary of the Cava, but I knew nothing about its maker. After the review was published, Vilarnau contacted me and invited us to visit their vineyards if we were ever in the area. Well, of course we took the chance as soon as we could and cruised to the estate of Vilarnau on our most recent visit toBarcelona.
The Vilarnau bodega stands out from the local style. Or better said, it does not stand out too much! Vilarnau has constructed their site to blend in with the surrounding vines and nature. There is a modern or perhaps even Scandinavian style about the building with its straight lines and wooden exterior. Pine trees are growing in the yard, its almost like coming home to Finland (but just much warmer). I felt very comfortable when stepping in the doors. The Bodega as well as some of the bottles are designed by Antoni Miro.
We were greeted by Georgina, who was in charge of showing us around and telling us about the production. She walked us through the vineyards and told us about the organic methods used at Vilarnau. They are perhaps not certified as organic, but you could have fooled me. Many precautions were taken to make sure to avoid use of pesticides, water was circulated from soil and rain and extra irrigation was provided only to the grape varietals that were not indigenous to the region (like Chardonnay) and needed it. The soil is clay and limestone which ventilates water well without leaving the ground soggy after heavy rains. A large part of the grapes come from Vilarnaus own vineyards, where they tend to them with care, focusing on quality, not highest possible yield. The house of Vilarnau being very popular, are however in the situation where their own grapes are not enough so they also buy from some well selected local growers.
After the tour, it was time for the tasting and there we were joined by Damià, one of the head winemakers. All together we tasted six different wines
In tasting order:
- Vilarnau Cava Brut Nature Vintage
- Vilarnau Cava Gran Reserva Vintage 2010
- Vilarnau Cava Brut Reserva
- Vilarnau Cava Coupage Prive Reserva Brut Nature(100% Subirat Parent)
- Vilarnau Cava Rose Brut Reserva (for the domestic market)
- Vilarnau Cava Rose Brut Reserva (for the international market)
- Vilarnau Xarel.lo white (white wine)
I will review the wines individually in later posts, but there are a few I would like to mention already now. I general the Vilarnau selection is very fresh, dry and with flavors of peach, apricot and minerals (from the clay and limestone soil). The longer the ageing the nuttier the aromas get with hints of brioche and butter. Very well made, traditional Cavas! What stands out is the Coupage Prive made from 100% Subirat Parent. This is a grape variety that is indigenous to the are surrounding the town of Subirat. It is unfortunately quite susceptive to disease, so a risky grape for growers. So naturally it is not that popular. But oh my the result, it is worth the risk! The scent of this wine is of tropical fruit, pineapple and mango; but the taste is fresh and dry. It is very different from the other Cavas.
Another interesting feature about our tasting was that we tried out two versions of the “same” Vilarnau Rose Cava. The difference between these wines was the time that the grape juice has spent with the peel of the grape. If you look at the pictures, the difference is quite outstanding just by adding a few hours to the process. Vilarnau explained that the lighter version was for the international market, as the darker red is associated with sweeter tastes (although it was not sweet at all). In Spain however the darker Cava is more popular, as it is how Rosé is “supposed” to look like. There was no difference in the sweetness of the wines, but you could taste the difference created by the extra 4-6 hours with the peels. For me, the lighter Rose tasted very much like a “white” Cava, with the main distinction being the light pink color (very pretty). This would be a perfect aperitif on a hot summer day. The darker Rose had a hint of more body and I could imagine it pairing well with food, some barbeque for example.
We also tasted an interesting white wine made from 100% xarello that had been aged in chestnut barrels. Very different white with some tropical aromas (mango) and flowers combined with a hint of chestnut. Very pleasant indeed! I cannot wait to taste the Cava made out of the same wine (Yes, there is a Cava!).
All in all we had an absolutely wonderful day at Vilarnau. The vineyard is beautiful, the Cavas are tasty and the people lovely! They have a shop and they arrange nice tours around the vineyards, so I warmly recommend giving Vilarnau a visit if you are in the area. We will for sure keep in touch with our new friends, and we hope to score some of the more special Cavas into our selection some day.