We are always on the lookout for wine makers that use organic/ecological methods when producing. many of the producers we work with and/or have visited largely follow what is required to be organic but they are not willing to spend the time and money to be certified (the certification can include several audits a year and certification fees). We did however recently encounter an interesting cava that is marketed as organic.
The cava is called VallDolina and is made by producer Celler-Masia Can Tutusaus. The winery was started in 1987 by Joan Badell Badell, who decided to bottle his first wines and to plant his first trained vines. It was not until 1999 when Raimon Badell Rosés, the son of the founder, who was then studying oenology and already involved in the winemaking process, turned the focus to ecological and biodynamical production. Since then, in 2006, oenologist Ferran Gil García has also joined the team.
The winery has 10 hectares where they currently produce one white wine, one rosé wine, three red wines and three different types of cava. the entire production is done with grapes from their own estate. The vineyards are boardering the natural park at the Massif of Garraf, with an altitude of between 240m and 360m and have limestone and reddish clay soil and produce, on average, 3500l/h. The climate is Mediterranean, strongly influenced by the vicinity of the sea. The winery produces only around 20 000 bottles a year and the small scale also mean that they just like for example Rimarts still can make the disgorging manually, without freezing the sediment. I am not knowledgable enough to know whether it produces a superior cava but I know it is cool to look at the manual process so if you ever get the chance to see that it is great fun.
The specific cava that we now tried was the Brut Nature Reserva. It has made with traditional cava trio of grapes (Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada) but also a touch of Chardonnay. It has been aged for 24 months. I must also inform you that I tried this side by side with a champagne (Pierre Gimonet, 2008 Non Dosage) so some of the impressions may be influenced by that comparision. I have tried to give it a fair rating so have hopefully managed to remove any comparison.
The VallDolina Brut Nature is very pale yellow in color. The nose is very fresh with some citrus, mineral and earthy aromas. As it is Brut Nature (no sugar added) it is very dry, nice acidity and a touch of citrus. To me it lacks some complexity and I would have liked a bit fuller flavor. As it is, the cava is pleasant enough as an appetizer but it lacks the complexity to be paired well with foods. It is however still good enough for me to be interested to sample their other wines and especially the Gran Reserva. Pure quality rating I would give it a 3, value for money is a 3.5 as I had it for €7 a glass at a wine bar in Helsinki which is a pretty good bargain. If I however look at the price at Alko (the Finnish Monopoly) it is almost €110 for a case of 6 (not sold by the bottle) and that is not good value for money (more like a 2). Looking at the price level in Spain and elsewhere in Europe it is however possible to find it at better prices and I would not doubt trying it again as it is a pleasant enought cava and compared to most other organic ones I sampled this is one of the better, so I recomed trying it as an example that it is possible to produce good organic cava.