Cavatast is Coming Again

As summer is closing to it’s end, at least here in Sweden, I like turning my attention to what will be happening in the fall. The highlight is of course Cavatast, the festival to celebrate all that is to do with the spanish premium bubbly. Cavatast is a festival for everyone: locals, professionals as well as tourists. In recent years it has taken a  bit of a gastronomical direction as well with an increasing number of food vendors participating in the festivities. As every year, there is no information regarding this festival in English, so I have used my nonexisting skills in spanish to make educated guesses on what is in store for us. The only thing I can be quite sure about is the dates: 7th to the 9th of October.  Continue reading “Cavatast is Coming Again”

Drinking in the Midnight Sun

Up here in the Nordics, we are blessed with a special phenomenon: the June midnisht sun. This means that the sun does not go down at all, but it is light around the clock. Now some people might no like it, as it is sometimes hard to sleep in light. But the midnight sun and beloved Midsummer festival are what we are born and raised with. Midsummer is when most people start their vacations, eat good food, jump into the freezing lake (from the Sauna) and perhaps get a little bit drunk. Continue reading “Drinking in the Midnight Sun”

Wineweek 81:A Fresh New Look

We have worked all week. Every evening after dinner, we have opened our laptops to work on our new Shopify web shop. It has felt good doing some extra work for the business, as we have admittedly been slacking off lately. Or rather been focusing on tasting wines instead of actively selling them. Today we launched the new website with great pride! Not that it looks as good as many professionally made web shops, however, I consider this quite an achievement as we are complete amateurs in this field. Oh, the possibilities one has today with  To honor the launch, we have also added some great new wines to the selection. Continue reading “Wineweek 81:A Fresh New Look”

The Spring Rose Special

I don’t really think Sweden is a rose country. Not in the way for example Spain is. However, in the spring there is some kind of wacky rosé-fever. Everyone wants to start drinking it around the time of April. The season will peak by mid-June, and no one will even look at a bottle of rose after August. If you are interested in a short introduction of how rose is made, you can have a peak at this earlier post on the topic Continue reading “The Spring Rose Special”

The Spring Tasting Schedule

The long awaited spring comes always as a surprise to me. Our wine business builds towards the highlight of Christmas, and then we always extend our holiday from the business way too long. I know its still winter outside, but the rose season is soon upon us. At least from the point of view of a wine merchant. Continue reading “The Spring Tasting Schedule”

The Best New Cavas from Cavatast

When asked which cava was the best I tasted all week, I don’t know what to answer. Ramon, the owner of Jaume Giró i Giró cavas phrased it in a good way: can you really say which one of your children you love the most? I only have one, but I can see his point. During the week in Spain, we tasted perhaps around 50 different cavas, so instead of announcing a winner I thought I would mention a few new acquaintances that stood out.

1. Torelló Rose Brut Reserva. This cava is a blend of Garnacha and Pinot Noir. It is a Catalan style Rose: deep in color and rich with taste. Taste is full with red berries. The Cava is not sweet at all. One of the best rose Cavas I have tasted.

2. Juve y Camps 100% Xarello Essential. I am sure that it has become clear that I am a fan of the Xarello grape. It gives a full bodied and aromatic cava with citrus fruits and mineral freshness. A perfect companion on a hot day.

At the Mestres stand at Cavatast 2015
At the Mestres stand at Cavatast 2015
Finger got in the way of the picture. I wonder how many cavas I had already tasted at this point
Finger got in the way of the picture. I wonder how many cavas I had already tasted at this point

3. Jaume Giró i Giró Montaner Gran Reserva. The Montaner is a blend of the cava trio: Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada, and Chardonnay. The nose has nice aromas of peach and honey melon. The taste has light acidity with hints of brioche and a nice creamy mouthfeel. Truly a stunning cava!

4. Mestres Visol 2007 Brut Nature. The house of Mestres has a distinct style. They are charismatic with an oxidized flavor and a touch of oak. The Visol has aromas of dried fruits, brioche and roasted nuts.

5. Martinez Rose (by Rimats Cava). Last year when we visited Rimarts, they had already sold out of their special edition Rose, Martinez. This year, we were well on time to taste the new harvest. The Martinez is also a blend of Garnacha and Pinot Noir. The color is absolutely stunning, light ruby pink. It is a young cava with extreme freshness and clean taste. It is very seldom that a Rose is made as a Brut Nature (no dosage). I am not sure if I would pick it as a rose if I were blind tasting (in dark glasses).

Jaume Giró i Giró really impressed with their selection.
Jaume Giró i Giró really impressed with their selection.
Finally tasting the the Martinez Rose. Only waited 6 months..
Finally tasting the the Martinez Rose. Only waited 6 months..

Bonus: Pere Mata Brut Nature Gran Reserva. When tasting this cava, both myself and M were amazed. The taste was fresh with white fruits, burned butter and brioche, and the mouthfeel was creamy. We had tasted quite many cavas during the week with nice aromas enticed by long aging, but this one stood out as very clean. The real surprise came when we heard that this cava was made with no Chardonnay. It is seldom that the cava trio produces such deep toasty notes.

There! Some cavas to put on the shopping list. The more I learn about cava, the more I am convinced that it has a bright future as a premium choice for bubbly.

Wineweek 47: The Week After Cavatast

There is a saying in Swedish, borta bra men hemma bäst. It basically means that its great to travel, but nothing beats being home. We had a wonderful week in Barcelona, however I am ecstatic about being home. Also, our Air BnB apartment was quite run down, so nice to have a proper hot shower and a comfy bed again. We did not come home empty handed though. We brought 31 new Spanish friends to occupy our wine fridge. This is not the record. From Portugal we were able to bring 34 bottles. However, this time we had significantly more bubbly that weighs more and takes more space. We were actually discussing with M how many bottles we could potentially bring if we really came prepared, in check in luggage I mean (one can always send a pallet). I think we concluded that around 90 Bordeaux bottles could be doable. I will share some of my wine packing tips later.

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All 31 bottles survived the trip
Torelló cavas in the cooling
Torelló cavas in the cooling

What did we buy and where did we shop? We bought mainly cava, some 100% Xarello and white rioja. We also picked up a bottle of Castell d’Encus riesling (a really interesting producer in the Pyrenees) and a Mencia from Bierzo. Sounds wonderful right? The wines were bought from Cavatast as well as two of our favorite wine shops in Barcelona: Vila Viniteca (Borne) and Di Vi (Eixample).

As we were in the region, we also took the opportunity to meet some producers, old and new. We spent a day at Torelló, a high-end producer of cava. We popped by Rimarts to sample their new batch of Martinez Rose (last year this cava was sold out). And we also took a quick tour in the historical cellars of Jaume Giró i Giró and had dinner with our star producer Peret Fuster. Really wonderful visits that, again, increased me knowledge on cava production. We also heard some rumors on a new classification, Singe estate cava, coming up next year. How the labelling will look is not clear yet, however, only gran reserva cavas that are produced from start to finish by the same grower-producer could carry this classification. This would be very interesting for the consumer, so I really hope it materializes.

The Martinez rose cava has a beautiful light ruby color
The Martinez rose cava has a beautiful light ruby color
M browsing in Vila Viniteca
M browsing in Vila Viniteca
Tasting the selection at Jaume Giró i Giró
Tasting the selection at Jaume Giró i Giró

Next week (including this weekend) will be low on wine. After having a glass or two (or three) every day we were in Spain, I feel I need a detox. Next weekend though, we are holding our fall champagne tasting to customers that made purchases during our spring open house. We will be sampling some private label cavas from the UK as well as branded champagnes from the same producer. I am also tempted to mix a good, toasty cava in there. We will be doing the tasting blind to get more interesting results.

That was it for this wineweek! More about our visits at the producers and other wine-ventures to follow in a few days (after I have catched up on some sleep).

Wineweek 46: Cavatast Greetings

Greetings from Barcelona! It is the day after Cavatast; the sun is shining and people are out and about. We have just come back from a lovely cava-brunch at the Mandarin Oriental (as if there was not enough cava yesterday). Now a few hours of rest and we will head out for dinner. Eating, drinking and walking around; that is what our (working) holidays are made of. Especially in Barcelona, it is just great to walk around and pop into whatever café or bar that looks nice. There is an abundance of new places to visit.

But enough with the chit chat. I am sure you are most interested in reading more about Cavatast. In general I have to say the day was good. We visited the stands of many new and exciting producers as well as mingled with a cava-loving crowd. Everyone was in a festive mood clinking glasses and sipping ice cold cava. A group of swedes even bursted into song in the middle of the street giving a good show the surrounding crowd. In the small town of Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, cava brings both locals and tourists close together. You don’t even need to speak the same language, a small nod and a raise of your glass is enough.

Having experienced the festival last year, we knew roughly how many producers and cavas we could seriously try out before getting too tired (and drunk). To be honest, it is not that many. The tongue also gets numb after too much bubbly. We made it up to ten producers and around twenty cavas; after which we felt that it was time to start heading back to Barcelona. We visited: Berta, Mestres “vins de cava”, Jaume Giro I Giro, Fonpinet, Llopart, Juve y Camps, Oliver Viticultros, Muscandia, Eudald Massana Noya and Alsina Sarda. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was Juve y Camps, that we have labelled as one of these major houses (with mass production and a lot of sugar added to the cava). We had a chance to meet some people from the company as well as have a taste of their range. Their new product, a 100% Xarello cava was perhaps the best of the whole day. You might recall, I have been writing about my interest in Xarello before (post here); I am definitely a fan of the local grape variety. Other positive experiences were at Mestres (their Visol 2007), Muscandia (the Rose and Gran Reserva) and Oliver Viticultros (Barrica). We are also hoping to be able to go and visit Jaume Giro i Giro next week as they had some very impressive Gran Reservas in their range.

Cava brunch at the Mandarin Oriental
Cava brunch at the Mandarin Oriental
Cozy atmosphere in Barcelona
Cozy atmosphere in Barcelona
The range of Oliver Viticultros on display
The range of Oliver Viticultros on display
Patrik enjoying a cool glass of cava
Patrik enjoying a cool glass of cava

We also visited the Cavatast boutique. Amazing selection and prices. We were able to contain ourselves and bought only seven bottles. Some cavas were so cheap, that we just bought a bottle based on the description. Fonpinets Gran Reserva (aged 48months) was less than 5€ a pop. I can invest a fiver into trying something new, and even better if it is good. At least based on our taster of their ecological Brut Nature, they know what they are doing.

Food this year was also better: meat cones, cakes and pastries as well as some better quality tapas. A local chocolatier also had a stand celebrating the towns trademark bubbly with some chocolate bottles and other small snacks. I am actually hoping for the festival to take a more gastronomical direction.

That was it for this weeks recap. The coming week we will be going back to Sant Sadurni for a few days. We will be visiting Torello, Rimarts as well as Peret Fuster. Hopefully also some other new acquaintances if we are able to set up meeting at this short of a notice. I think in Spain they are pretty relaxed and flexible and have no problem doing stuff at a moments notice (if they feel like it). Now to get ready for dinner and some more wine. Have a great week you all!

xx Soile

Cavatast Info: Prices, Exhibitors and More..

Cavatast is approaching and I am getting very excited. Not only is there an abundance of good cava to sample, but it is a relaxed event with potential for warm weather and delicious Catalonian snacks. Cavatast is for everyone, not only professionals; and this makes it even more inviting (professional events can occasionally be a bit stiff).

Every year I, however, run into the same problem: there is very little information about the event available in English. I mainly have the same questions every year: what are the exact dates, who will be there and what does everything cost? As we are talking about Spain, things can also change without much notice. So I always hold a healthy skepticism to all of the information out there, and remain flexible if case it is needed. After doing some research online, I have been able to find what I was looking for, so I thought I would share it here with you to save you from the trouble.

Is Cavatast for everyone?
Yes it is! It is like a town party with a mix of wine-tourists and professionals here and there. People bring their whole family, children included, to the event and enjoy the festivities, lectures and of course the excellent cava.

Who will be represented at Cavatast?
In the below picture you can see the participants for this years Cavatast. Our friends from Cellers Carol Valles and Rimarts Cava are also joining, so make sure you stop by their stands for a taste. We recommend also trying out Vilarnau, Pere Ventura and Naveran who are excellent in their price class.

The producers represented at Cavatast Photo: Turisme de Sant Sadurni d'Anoia
The producers represented at Cavatast Photo: Turisme de Sant Sadurni d’Anoia

What are the prices?
At Cavatast you buy tasting coupons always four at a time. Depending on the cava, a glass costs you from 1 to 4 coupons. For 2015, four coupons plus a tasting glass (that you can keep) costs 6,5€. Further coupons cost 5€ for four. For food: pinxtos, charcuterie and other snacks sold in food trucks, there is a similar ticket system. Four food tickets cost 6€ and get you various snacks throughout the day.

How to prepare?
The most important question of all, what else should one take into account before going to cavatast? Three simple steps will save your day:

Step 1. Bring a bottle of water, or two. You should hydrate yourself in between the cavas, otherwise the festivities will come to an end earlier than needed.

Step 2. Bring some wet wipes and napkins. It is inevitable that you need to use the toilets at the event. During the day, paper runs out and the cleanliness of the restrooms deteriorates. You will be fine if you just bring your own paper and own means of cleaning up.

Step 3. Take a backpack: The cavatast shop is like a gold-mine. You can buy all of your favorite cavas for very reasonable prices, so you want to be prepared to carry some bottles home.

So now all that is left is to enjoy the festivities. Hope to see you there cavalovers!