Penedes region just a stone’s throw away from Barcelona is abundant with vineyards and cava wineries. You can jump on a train or a bus and go there on your own or join a guided wine tour. Last year I visited Freixenet and this year Codorniu winery was on my itinerary – world’s oldest producer of bottle-fermented sparkling wines.
It took me 45 minutes bus ride to get to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia where the first Codorniu cava cellars are located. When the bus stopped in front of the winery, I just couldn’t miss a chance to dash across the road: it doesn’t happen too often to see vineyards right next to the big wineries. Due to it being an early spring there was no lush greenery, but wine trees were already preparing for bud burst. I had a brief roam around the vineyard and then joined my trip companions ready to go on a winery tour.
It all started in the impressive Art Nouveau building. During an introductory movie that we watched we learned about Codorniu family history that reaches back to 16th century, when winemaker’s daughter Anna de Codorniu got married to Miquel Raventos and Codorniu wine saga began. First batch of sparkling wine using traditional method was produced in the 19th century, blending Macabeo, Parellada and Xarello grapes. At the end of 20th century Chardonnay varietal was embraced, making cava named after Anna de Codorniu the first sparkling wine with this grape. The wine cellars were built opening the new era for Spanish wines.
After the movie it was time to look around the territory of the winery. We jumped on a train that took us around. It gave us a chance to admire the impressive architecture of the winery buildings by renowned Spanish architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch and nicely maintained landscape.
The tour continued on inside of a big building with some wine making equipment on a display as well as huge barrels containing wine in the early stages of fermentation.
An interesting thing was a table of evaporating aromas, where the visitors could smell different varietals of grapes grown in the vineyards. The fragrances were quite artificial, but it was good to get an idea for comparison. My favourite one was Xarello with distinctive melon aroma.
A few flights of steep steps took us down to wine cellars located 36 meters below the ground. We had another train ride along the endless corridors with around 80 million of fermenting wine bottles stacked along the walls.
A collection of old hand reel machinery made us scratch our heads wondering of the capacities of the winery back in the days when the maximum efficiency of the process was taking care of a few bottles at a time. These days it is all much more automated, however, we didn’t get a chance to have a sneak peak at the current equipment.
After a short walk along the cellar corridors with historic wine bottles and old jugs on display we ended up in the tasting room. Two premium range cavas were offered for us: Gran Codorniu Vintage rose made of 100% Pinot Noir Grapes and Gran Codorniu Reserva, made of Chardonnay varietal.
Intense salmon colour elegant rose was bursting with cherry and strawberry flavours while Gran Reserva had pronounced fruity notes and complexity due to its ageing in the barrels for over 15 months.
The tour took around 1,5 hours and finished in the shop, giving the opportunity to stock up on some of Codorniu produce.
If you are well organised, you can easily cross a few Penedes region wineries off your list in a day. Have a read about another cava winery Freixenet located not far away from Codorniu in my previous blog post.
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