Our first stop in Catalunya was to Sant Sadurni cava capital of the world. Cava is a sparkling Catalan wine made by adding sugar and yeast to Penedès wine which is then stored in traditional bottles to produce a second fermentation. It is a municipality in the comarca of the Alt Penedès in Catalonia, Spain at the confluence of the Avernó river and the Anoia river. This region boasts picturesque countryside flanked with acres and acres of land dedicated to wine growing.
From Zaragoza, we travelled for another 3 hours by car to the region of Catalunya. Catalunya or Catalonia is a country within a country, with its own language, complex history and is steeped in traditions probably closer to France than to other regions of Spain such as Aragon and Castile. Although relatively small in size, it has Spain’s business brains and earns one fifth of the national income. Catalonia packs a lot into its four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. The stunning cove beaches of the Costa Brava make it one of Spain’s loveliest coasts, backed by the top foodie scene, the Jewish history of the medieval city of Girona, and Salvador Dalí’s gloriously surreal ‘theatre-museum’ in Figueres. Head north and one can encounter the majestic Pyrenees rising to a mighty 3000m peaks from a series of stunning valleys crisscrossed with numerous hiking trails. Indeed, plenty going on here!
One particularly famous Cava is Codorniu which is internationally renowned and if you would like to take a tour remember to book in advance. 1872 was the year when Josep Raventos Fatjo uncorked his first bottle of wine made by the methode champenoise where the wine is fermented and matured in bottles. This is however not a new method as the French Benedictine monks developed this process in the 17th century. Why was it called cava? Cava means cellar. After the discovery, Josep dug a cool cellar (cava) and had the sparkling wine stored in these cellars. His cava proved popular and soon he was supplying to the royal family in Madrid. As a result, many wineries came into play producing cava using various techniques. To differentiate those made using the traditional method and the better quality sparkling wines, the label Champan de Cava (Cellar Champagne) was introduced. However, the label was dropped when Spain joined the European Union and France requested for the ban of the term for obvious reasons. Today, it is simply known as Cava.
Taps de Suro (Pl. Ayuntamiento, 7, 08770 Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, Spain)
We headed back to town and had dinner at a restaurant run by chef Marc Subirats Casado. We were truly impressed by the quality of his food and he would come up and explain the menu to us, making sure everything was running well and overall good unpretentious comfort food. Reviews were mixed on TripAdvisor but we certainly enjoyed the food especially the kids.
Next stop: Barcelona, the land of modernist architecture, home of Gaudi and gastronomy.