Sant Sadurní is a Catalan village delivered to bubbles. He who does not gather the grapes works in a warehouse.
- Spain feeds the world
But the beginning of this trip is in the region of Alt Penedès Barcelona. Mild climate, rainfall in spring and autumn, vineyards scattered around the countryside, farms that monitor the earth and the imposing presence of the mountain of Montserrat. In this peaceful environment where the speakers of the Catalan capital is disappearing Sant Sadurní, a town of 12,000 inhabitants turned to bubbles. He that is collecting the grapes works in a warehouse or receives tourists in their establishment. The capital of cava. You see groups of schoolchildren, housewives Japanese or the streets. Next to the train station is the headquarters of Freixenet, which accounts for 90% Codorníu production of champagne. They are the two big monsters.
Anyone in Sant Sadurní can talk about your industry and do it with pride. They are devotees of his own. Almost a religion. For something Codorníu headquarters known as the Cathedral of cava. An example of modernist architecture signed by Puig i Cadafall. It is the oldest company, with nearly five centuries of history. Everything is machined, but the process of two fermentations and mixtures of sugar and liquor is almost the same. The grapes are traditional Penedès Macabeo, and Parellada xarel.lo but Codorníu also uses chardonnay and pinot noir, of French descent. The goal, in any case, is that the carbon give birth to a small bubble that strikes a fine tickle the palate. The secret sleeps in the more than 30 miles of underground corridors. The ceilings are vaulted. The light is dim. Occasionally we hear footsteps.
"Silence, the wine is resting." A sign warning visitors to Can Rosell, the estate of Torello, before going down to the cellar where the wines Kripta, pretty girls critic Parker. With a production of 500,000 bottles, is well below Freixenet and Codorniu, even below Juve & Camps, but still had to earn a living outside of Spain. For several years, the consumption of cava in Spain is in the same figures, top digit, digit down. Freixenet was the first one out. His first major success was in the early eighties in the United States. "And the others have been taking advantage of the breach for us," Jose Luis Bonet illustrates, chairman of the conglomerate. Now supports 65% of all production of cava and 65% of this is intended to abroad. "Exporting is of necessity," says Gema Torelló, family lawyer and head of communications at the winery that bears his name. "We like the personal touch. We are few, but talkative," he laughs. His brother runs the business Agustí international, who spend 20% of production.
And how have gained so much popularity? Agustí rant begins: "The only argument is the quality and identity, which is based on that we are one hundred percent Penedes, use native grape varieties, our vines are at least 30 years and our wines are reserva and gran reserva. And then there is our relationship with food. relation We Roca brothers, with whom we have held symposiums in Belgium and Holland on cooking with champagne without losing the carbon. We like to communicate the spirit of our land. Ours are cavas with soul, expressive ". Nobody can say that Agustí your business does not sell well. And so will the world ever. Its work plan for the last week of November was this: Monday, wine tasting in England, Tuesday, meeting with visiting an importer and a catering school in Belgium, Wednesday, tasting with sommeliers also in Belgium.
"The more a country has food culture, the easier it is to value the champagne," says Mariano Fuster, vice president of international market Juve & Camps. He knows of what he speaks, as it travels to 70% of their time. This company began exporting to the U.S. in 1984 and now sold in 40 countries, including Germany, Venezuela, Peru and Japan. The price of the bottles is high, the long aging, 35 to 40 months. They have a select audience of fine restaurants and gourmet delicatessens. Nada supermarket. "You have to find a company that understands the philosophy of selling price cava champagne," said Fuster. But he still erre que erre. Last month was 15 days in Asia and visited eight cities. Each meeting brought together 100 people and is maridaba cava with Chinese food. Really. "I admit that at first shocked, but people are willing to experiment," he explains. "Whenever I meet with restaurateurs, critics, doctors, lawyers ... People earthbound, but extends the oil slick." Years of experience have led him to this conclusion: "It is they who become opinion leaders and prescribers, and so, when they come to have dinner cava instead of champagne, and released to his friends around the roll I told them. Fardan enology in plan: 'I am more aware that you and I can prove it. " Sociology and psychology of consumption propulsion.
Both disciplines, however, also have their share of inertia. Changing habits can be difficult. The champagne has an aura of glamor and elegance of the cava lacks. Nuria Gené, director of the Champagne Bureau in Spain, cava emphasizes that it is not a danger or a competition. Gené very careful language, wants to find the perfect word: "We did not play in the same league for raw material and image. Difference comes from the grapes, the extreme climate and terroir, or soil. A kilo costs champagne grape six euros a kilo of grapes for sparkling wine, 60 cents.'s a question of price. "
Yes it is. The French sparkling saw a 4.8% drop in 2008 sales because of the crisis. Nobody wants to flaunt an expensive product. Nobody wants to indicate. An industry professional who does not want to give his name even reveals that he has seen a famous brand of champagne gave to a restaurant in a South American country an annual budget of your product so that out of the way the Spanish sparkling wine that was positioning. Belgium has recently discovered the cava, during the crisis, and France is having a sustained growth (40.2% in 2009). Gustavo Garcia Guillamet, president Cava Regulatory Council, is delighted: "And sell champagne in France is like putting a pike in Flanders."
The challenge now is to break the seasonality. It is succeeding: already 37% sold at Christmas and 67% the rest of the year. Well, why should a Frenchman, for example, would have to pay attention to these companies and buy champagne? Mariano Fuster, Juve & Camps, said to be less acidic than champagne and much easier to pair. Lluís Codinach, Codorníu, ensures the success of a dinner with champagne is guaranteed, but serves a sardine. Agusti Torello, the patriarch, argues that it is the only drink dignity able to meet a whole meal. "Not a white or a red can." He is so convinced of his powers, every day, at eight in the morning, breakfast a glass of bubbles and toast with tomato and ham. He says that at that time the senses are more awake. That the world will take note.
The friend of 'umami' The bubbles want to accompany meals. "The cava harmonizes well with the four flavors" argues Jordi Bort, president of the Association of Sommeliers of Catalonia. With the bitter, sweet, salty and sour. Bort highlights its strengths: "Some of these flavors, or some dishes, such as salads or Valencian rice, are difficult to pair by mixing vinegar or food, but the carbon is very conciliatory." There's more. Bort discovers the surprise: "Cava is the great ally of Asian cuisine, especially Japanese and Thai, it helps counteract the famous fifth taste or umami (the savory, found in foods such as anchovies, asparagus, Iberian ham, soy sauce and meat), assembled with the contrasts of each of the dishes of Asian cuisine, balanced acidity and freshness and invites continue eating because you clean the mouth. " Bort has seen how the Japanese themselves like that combination. "It remains to reach Asian restaurants in Spain, but I've been digging in any of them." With so much food can you forget the bottle out of the fridge. Marie-Louise Banyols, product manager of the famous wine shop Lavinia, recommended cold about four hours at a temperature of between six and eight degrees. To avoid getting stuck with umami.
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