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Delhi Wine Club
Export Director of Cava Producer Raventos

Posted: Thursday, 07 February 2013 11:59

Passing By: Export Director of Cava Producer Raventos

Feb 07: Frances Scala, certified sommelier and Export Manager of the Sant Sadurni d’Anoia based Cava producer Raventos i Blanc was in Delhi last week to conduct a wine tasting session for select wine professionals at the Sevilla Restaurant at Hotel Claridges where Subhash Arora was able to quickly taste four wines that had been presented earlier in the afternoon

Click For Large ViewThe 37-year old Frances Scala who is also a friend of the family since he was 5-years old, has been working with Raventos i Blanc since 2002, where he also became a certified sommelier in 2005 after studying for 2 years in the Culinary School of Barcelona- about 55 kms from Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, the seat of cava making in Spain using the typical indigenous approved grapes -Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada (though now international varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also allowed up to certain proportion, as is Monastrell for pink Cavas). For those who may not be familiar with the Spanish sommelier school system, the first year teaches national wines and viticulture whereas the second year focuses on international wines, olive oil and jamon (ham), says Scala.

One has heard of Freixenet and Codorniú as the big Cava producers but it was interesting to find the Raventos- Codorniú family connection. Historically speaking, Codorniú had bought land and settled in Sant Sadurni in the early 1500s. The land was handed down for generations to Codorniú male off-springs and later those carrying the Raventos name after a female Codorniú, Marie Anna, married Miguel Raventos in 1681. Seven generations later, a man by the name of Josep Maria Raventos created the world’s first Cava with grapes from his estate in 1872, says Scala adding, theirs is the oldest documented viticulture tradition owned by the same family in Spain.

Joseph Maria Raventos I Blanc founded the CAVA denomination in 1984, according to the company. With Codorniú going strong and a big Cava producer during the last few centuries, Josep decided with his son Manuel to sell their share of the Codorniú estate, keeping the best parcels with the objective of making excellent quality Cava. Unfortunately, he died a few days after the new business started. Manuel went through a rough business patch despite high quality but with his son Pepé joining him, the father-son duo was successful in creating Raventos label in 1986.

Today, the brand rubs shoulders with the best known quality labels like Augusti Torelló Mata and Gramona, the top Cava producers and is served in 4 of the 8 top restaurants of the world, according to the Restaurant Magazine including the iconic restaurant El Bulli till it was closed by the Michelin 3-star chef Ferran Adria in 2011.

The winery owns 90hAs of vineyards facing North and South with high acidity which is good for freshness in sparkling wines whereas the south is warm, adding softness. Climate in the area is Mediterranean. There are 46 plots which are  100% organic certified last year. As a property also it is certified.  

There were 4 wines for tasting at the Sevilla with the Raventos i Blanc label: L’Hereu Reserve Brut 2008 ( Rs.2920+ tax), De Nit Rose Cava (Rs.3540 +tax), Perfum de Vi Blanc (Rs.2310+tax) and a red wine, Isabel Negra (Rs. 3850+taxes).

L’Hereu is a Brut Cava made from the traditional grapes-Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada. Fruity aromas and citrus fruity flavour, lively on the palate and persistent long finish describes this wine. De Nit has the additional Monastrell known as Mourvedre across the border in France, to give the light salmon pink colour. Not only does it add to the body of the wine, the white fruit flavours are sustained. An elegant and very well balanced wine.

The Perfum de Vi Blanc, as the name suggests, is a very aromatic wine, due in part, to the 40% Muscat; the balance 60% is Macabeo which by itself makes a rather insipid single dimensional wine that is quaffable with sea food. It has a powerful pineapple nose and peachy flavour. This is an interesting and enticing wine for novices and women.  Isabel Negra – a blend of Cabernet and Monastrell - had a typical taste with spices and cocoa in the back layer, which would require time for the Indian palate to appreciate it. I suspect it would have a very limited demand and perhaps Spanish expats in India might like it. At the retail price of Rs.3830 +taxes of 20% and then adding gratuity of 10% would make it a difficult wine to order in a restaurant unless  it could first be tasted by ordering by-the-glass, which only some adventurous restaurants might be willing to try.

The sparkling wines of Raventos are quite impressive and the discerning buyers would find these very attractive while the Vi Blanc is a good value for money wine as an appetizer or to be quaffed with light foods.

All four wines are available in retail in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Gurgaon, says Arun Kumar, Director of Aspri. Hotels like Sheraton, Taj, Pullman, Claridges with a couple of labels having been approved by the Taj Central Processing Committee, are selling these wines, according to Kumar. Among the stand alone restaurants he named Buddha bar; of course it is also available in Sevilla.

As I was parting, Scala informed me that Raventos had decided to get out of the DO Cava appellation from next vintage. ‘Due to the popularity of Cava everybody wants to make Cava and it is disappointing that today Cava can be made practically in any part of Spain of any quality. Justifying their decision to keep high standards for a product that was initiated by the ancestors of the family which had been also involved in formulating the rules for the appellation, he said that the Press had also supported their decision.

Subhash Arora

Tags: Culinary School of Barcelona, CAVA, Augusti Torelló Mata, Gramona,Macabeo, Xarello, Parellada, Mourvedre


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