During our recent visit to Spain, Recaredo kindly invited us to tour their winery. We popped over following our visit to Cal Feru and were shown around by the friendly and knowledgeable Jasmine. I was particularly interested to visit Recaredo. They are the first cava winery to be certified as biodynamic, although there is only a rose cava which is young enough to have the certification so far. But more will follow, as the certification was only awarded in 2010. These organic, land-conscious and artisanal processes reminded me of the conversation we’d had with Randall Grahm in 2012 about his own biodynamic practices at Bonny Doon, so I was interested to see how this transferred to the making of cava.
Their certificate of conformity for organic growing has been valid since 2003. They proudly tell us that they create exclusively vintage brut nature cava:
- 100% own vineyards in the Alt Penedes region.
- All organic, biodynamic vine-growing.
- 100% hand-harvested.
- Complete in-house vinification.
- 100% aged with natural cork stopper.
- All aged for at least 30 months.
- 100% riddling by hand on racks.
- All wines disgorged by hand without freezing.
This suggests a high quality product! And on the tour it was a pleasure to see many of these processed in action. To start with, we were introduced to the Recaredo vineyards. They focus on growing practices without herbicides and pesticides, which are in harmony with local nature. They use medicinal plants such as chamomile and horsetail. These plants are grown along with the vines to prevent fungus by way of a cold maceration sprayed on the plants and allowing the spontaneous growth of ‘weeds’ amongst the vines. This is to preserve the ecosystem of the vineyard as well as to protect and fix nitrogen in the soil.
Tasting at Recaredo
It was a real pleasure to have the opportunity of meeting two of the Recaredo family during our visit, who are definitely very much hands-on in their approach to their wine.
The original founder, Josep Mata Capellades founded Cavas Recaredo in 1924, hand hewing the cellars, some of which is still preserved to this day. The Mata Casanovas brothers continue this spirit of endeavour by being actively engaged in the processes. One of them was disgorging the bottles while we were there, taking out the cork stopper by hand to allow the yeast to pop out of the top of the bottle – allowing the opportunity for each bottle to be sniffed for quality, something not possible with the usual metal cap/freezing method of disgorgement. This also has the benefit of stopping oxidisation and making use of a natural product, taken from sustainable sources. Of course, they also recycle the first cork of the two that is used for each bottle – it’s then up to you to recycle the second!
The grapes are handpicked and left with the stems on. Recaredo only use 55% of the first juice to stop oxidisation and prevent the stems from being squeezed. This is another triumph for quality over mass production. I didn’t think to ask what happens to the rest of the juice, kicking myself a bit now. I’ll let you know if I find out!
So we had a very pleasant wander through the windy and cool cellars. We saw the wine being made. Next up we were taken to a very smart tasting room so that we could see what all the fuss was about.
This had a very deep colour compared to the rose cavas we had seen previously. It is light on the nose, with soft fruit aromas which are quite complex (again to what I would normally associate with a rose cava). On the palette it is full-bodied, strong and totally dry. This total absence of sweetness was again a bit of a surprise. However it is completely in-keeping with the Recaredo commitment to great Brut Natur wines. This is also visible in the local Sant Sadurni taste for bone dry cavas.
Jasmine told us that this wine pairs excellently with food and specifically recommended trying it with squid ink rice. This recommendation made my mouth water at the very thought. The flavour was so deep and developed the more you tasted. I felt that there was almost a watermelon note in it, which was deliciously refreshing. An absolutely lovely wine which you can get in the UK for just under £15 a bottle. Worth every penny.
Amazingly priced at a similar point to the Rosat, this cava is 59 months aged and has a pleasing light straw colour. It is very lively in the mouth, more than the rose. There is a fascinating mix of tobacco and a toasted, nutty smell. This comes from the aging process in the barrel for the first age. There is a smooth finish, and doesn’t coat the mouth. It fades in a really lovely way, I guess that’s what you call a long, rounded ending! It is a lovely crisp taste, with the trademark dryness that is perfectly balanced. Not surprising at all, just a comforting taste of quality. Absolutely delicious and certainly a cava that I would be happy to come back to.
A fascinating vist at Recaredo then. I realised that besides the wines, one of the things I love about visiting wineries is the amazing architecture and decor. They are all so beautiful and Recaredo is no exception. Their foyer is full of contemporary, sleek lines but with a hint of the traditional around the edges. It is a gorgeous place to spend time. And if you are cynical about cava, I cannot recommend enough that you try these delicious wines. You’ll never touch Prosecco again.