When in Barcelona / Spain (the Catalan region) - one must enjoy many local customs, one being a glass of the local Cava (sparkling wine) - I was able to do one better and had a guided tour and tasting at Freixenet.
Freixenet is the ‘World’s Leading Sparkling Wine’ located west of Barcelona in the Catalonia / Penedes region. When I was given the option to visit the winery by train - to say I was a little worried – (as most wineries are usually located a distance outside of the town centre) - my worries were unfounded on this occasion as the winery is situated literally opposite the main train station in the Catalonian village of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia. Around 95% of Spain's total Cava production is from Catalonia and Sant Sadurní d'Anoia is home to many of Spain's largest Cava houses, with Freixenet right at the heart.
Back in 1941, Freixenet launched what in time has become one of its leading products, the cava Carta Nevada and then in 1974 the cava Cordon Negro. Jose Ferrer CEO - his direction has taken the company to extreme heights, now semi-retired, José’s son Pedro, fourth generation Ferrer runs the multinational operation. Under his guidance, the Freixenet Company continues to expand by purchasing wine estates in some of the world’s most prominent appellations.
First we made our way out to ‘Segura Viudas’ to see the harvested grapes come in from some of the 1200 carefully managed growers. While we were there, we sampled the current releases with Gabriel Suberviola (chief winemaker) - who took us through a memorable tasting. We then made our way back to the head-office / winery and cellars, where there are over 150 million bottles of Freixenet maturing in approx 17km of Limestone caves. We only had time to drive (yes drive) around 2 of the 5 levels - I lost count of riddling racks and tunnels full of Sparkling wine after the 9th or 10th bend.
I then had an unexpected / but very pleasing meeting with the legendary Josep Bujan - the technical director for Freixenet since 1980. Bujan is responsible for developing and refining the technical procedures that have allowed méthode champenoise production of Freixenet cavas to soar to nearly 12 million cases per year. Bujan knows more about Cava the grapes and soils of the region than anyone and is a living oracle of the history and winemaking.
Freixenet is produced in the same meticulous manner, just like French Champagne all the grapes are handpicked and gently pressed, fermented in bottle to produce a high quality sparkling wine. After a tour of the production facilities, cellars and a detailed tasting and a late lunch it was unfortunately time to say farewell and return to Barcelona - to try and find the best Tapas’ (oh what a problem...he says with smile).