Monday, October 22, 2007

on drinking stars...

There comes a time in every woman's life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne. Bette Davis (in Old Acquaintance)

In victory, you deserve Champagne, in defeat, you need it. Napoleon Bonaparte

No celebration is complete without the magical bubbles...Since we have a large celebration coming up, the cyber cruise takes you today to Penedés, Catalonia's cava
region (Cava is the sparkling wine produced in Spain) in order to get our
needed supplies. First a map so you know your way around! the village
we are going to is Sant Sadurni.

Although EU law dictates that cava (or any other sparkling wine) cannot be referred to as “champagne”, Spain's bubbly shares many of the same features as its French counterpart, most notably the method by which it was made. The discovery of the méthode champenoise is famously credited to the French monk Dom Pérignon (c.1638 – 1715), who upon tasting it for the first time, is said to have shouted to his brethren, “Come quickly! I am drinking stars!” Literary references show that forms of sparkling wine have been produced in Spain since the 14th century, although it was not until 1872 that Joseph Raventós made cava a true commercial enterprise in Catalonia. Source

There are many cava producers in the Penedes area but our favorite one is Codorniu . Don't ask, it is so. This winery is the oldest and largest cava producer, the group's wine activities date back to 1551 ( a magical number which is also the name of one of their products you will see below) and they have been producing cava since 1872.

To go back to Cava’s routes we must backtrack to the 1870’s when a group of Catalan wine producers known as the “Seven Creek Sages” got together to discuss how to produce a sparkling wine to rival that of France’s Champagne. They invested heavily in equipment, vineyards and additional staff and in 1872 Josep Raventos produced 3,000 bottles of Cava as we know it today. The emphasis was placed on using grapes native to Spain to give the Spanish version of champagne its own character. These are still used today and the three main grapes that formulate Cava are Macabeu, Xarel-lo (also known as Pansá Blanca) and Parellada. Since 1986 Cava producers have also been allowed to integrate the Chardonnay grape in their DO (domain d’origen) and it has been steadily planted in the last 20 years. Source.

There are wonderful tours of the Codorniu winery in different languages but this time I forgot to book a reservation for a large group we'll get straight to business and do our shopping in the bodega, which is normally the place you are taken to after the tour and the cava tasting. Here is a link for a virtual stroll. Since we already know our way around , we take the car directly to the bodega. Disclaimer: I am not being paid for this post but I wish I was! with many free cases of fine cava . The imposing winery which houses the Codorníu cellars was built by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch who, together with Gaudí, was one of the outstanding exponents of the school of modern architecture. The Codorníu cellars were declared a National Monument of Historic and Artistic Interest in 1976, in view of their pure modernist style. Below is the left wing of the bodega, where you can park your car for loading purposes (the cases will be brought to you ) :

and now the right wing, and down below a self composition so you get the idea of the complete view

with a close-up of the roof decoration. Pls note the intensity of the blue sky, no photoshop done here!!

Inside the bodega the pictures didn't turn out very good and our cruisers got lost looking in the alleys, maybe you can spot someone...

and here the magnum (1.5 l) bottles of "1551"! the magical year when the winery got started.

The six official types of cava are as follows, depending on the sugar content:
Brut Nature - has no added sugar
Extra Brut - up to 6 grams of sugar per liter
Brut - up to 15 grams of sugar per liter
Extra Seco - between 12 & 20 grams of sugar per liter
Seco - between 17 & 35 grams per liter
Semiseco - between 33 y 50 grams per liter

It's all a matter of taste but my favorite is the brut nature... which one is yours??

When you leave the bodega we turn left to leave the winery but to the right you find this magnificent building which was originally the Raventós family mansion. There is a fabulous tower hiding behind the trees to the right:

Here you can see the tower , I just love this architecture.

Before we go let's take a look around, the garden is magnificent!

and a shot from the winery tour (available from the net as wallpaper) dedicated to Anna de Codorniu: she was an only child and married Mr Raventós in 1659. She was therefore the last one of the Codorniu's!

Anna de Codorníu. 85% chardonnay, 5% macabeo, 5% parellada (info from the net. But according to our Captain in the comments, she gets Chardonnay 90%, parellada 10% in Sweden... some research should be done about this issue!

Anna de Codorniu costs aprox 7euros (10 USD) /bottle

Besides enjoying the bubbles I am a cava tap collector, here you see the one for the Anna bottles. Cheers!! This post was brought to you by yours truly as part of the unique cyber cruises, home of THE Halloween party for all bloggers!


  1. First I have to say that your title is misleading, lol ! I expected "drinking stars" like Liza Minelli or I don't know who else because I think they are all drinking ! and then I found this very brave post about Champagne ! Imagine my disappointment ! But reading through and looking at the pictures it is very interesting ! A lot of things I didn't know, except the méthode Champenoise as we always drink this. (Yesterday at the expo too) Thanks for the nice tour and HIC !

  2. how interesting...and a great Bette Davis quote...I think the Brut Nature would be my favorite as well.

  3. Holy sh...champagne!!!!! That building is just beauitul, I love the architecture - not to mention the roof decoration. I love stone houses. And blue sky! We haven't seen it in a while over here, so it really is welcome :-)

    Ahhhh. I think I'll have a glass or two of that Brut Nature to start the inside bubbling thanks. *giggles*

    Yes, Codorniu is of course very well known even over here. We have those ones:

    - Anna de Codorniu for about 9 Euro/bottle - but the description says: Chardonnay 90%, parellada 10% - maybe some translation problem?

    - Codorniu (macabeo, parellada, xarel-lo)

    - Codorniu Reserva Raventós
    - Codorniu Pinot Noir Brut (Order)
    - Delapierre

    Looking at those excellent wine cellars I can't help thinking: what a marvelous Halloween party we could have in there!!!!!


  4. Great pictures, Mar. I think I would prefer the Brut Nature as well.
    I loved the quotes too.
    I'm thinking I will have 1 small glass of champagne of the Panama Canal Cruise to celebrate my 49 years!

  5. Awesome Cruise. You did a great job...they should pay you. ;)

    Now I need some money to travel to Spain. LOL!

  6. What a gorgeous place. It was wonderful of you to take the time to show us around and give us some history. I love the quote "I am drinking the stars".

    Thanks so much.

  7. You ask which is my favourite. Hmm, well if you ask them to send me a sample of each, I'll taste them all very carefully and let you know :)

    Beautiful pictures in a wonderful setting.

  8. I'll definitely try the Brut Nature. I love the architecture there so much! You should get paid for your post; it is excellent!! :-)

  9. WOW! That is a goooooorgeous winery! (or is it champagnery?) *whew* I am SO far behind on blogging and computer stuff I'm not sure I'm EVER going to catch up! It looks like you cruisers are having a smash-up time though! I'm going to try to catch up to ya! I missssssed you sO much! There WAS talk of having our NEXT blogger convention in Barcelona! (well... we can TALK can't we?) hehehe...

  10. I wish I could afford to drink the stars (Dom Perignon) every week! It is the only champagne that I have really liked!

  11. fab tour of Codorniu! funny enough, there was a lifestyle/food programme on Danish TV a couple of months ago that introduced me to this winery! have never drunk Cava though, i must get my hands on a bottle soon! :)
    loved the historical behind this special spanish bubbly.

  12. oh i might go for the extra seco... ;)

  13. Very interesting mar. Some great history lessons here.

  14. Oh it looks like it was so much fun! And the building in the end... how beautiful!

  15. What a marvellous tour, and you are a very good tour guide. Beautiful pictures and loads of information.

    I like Bonaparte's quote - very true.

    Sadly I am allergic to would you like my cava?


  16. That building is truly gorgeous. Wouldn't you be happy going to work there every day...Beautiful building, Great wine, what more could anyone want....The gardens are gorgeous too, Mar...I am unfamiliar with Cava...This was really wonderful, my dear...So informative....Thank You for this lovely lovely tour!

  17. That's a beautiful building! I don't drink alcohol at all and don't even like champagne. How boring am I?

  18. Thanks for asking about 'the fires'....I am safe but the smkoe in the air here is everrywhere....And that is not so good---not for anyone, but especially people with repititory problems....I just pray the winds,heat, and low humidity changes soon...!

  19. Fascinating post. I enjoy dropping in on the French Champagne area if I'm passing back through France in the car. However ful the car is, there always seems to be enough room to pop in a bottle or two!


  20. Super! Super! Mar! You did a super job! For the first time i hear about this spanish champagne! And now I understand why!!! it was a beautiful walk and visit. I prefer the brut nature like you with no sugar addict. Spania is the best for architectural art with Gaudi! Art and wine together! C'est géant!

  21. my favourite champagne???
    anyone shared with you! like we always do when we are together
    my place or yours? doesn't really matter, I always enjoy our long-dusk-talks wherever we are!
    petonets! sis x

  22. Tiens - no other comments but:
    I'll save this post for future use.


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