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Bubbles from Barcelona: Behind the scenes at Codorníu

by Sophie Eadon - May 30, 2017

The name Codorníu may be familiar, but you’ve never tasted a Cava quite like the beautifully unique bottle in your May Bubble Box. Take a trip to Barcelona, and meet the winery behind the delicious Gran Codorníu Chardonnay you’re about to taste – and, indeed, the invention of Cava itself.

Codorniu Raventos

It’s impossible to talk about the history of Spanish sparkling wine without namechecking Codorníu. Now perhaps the most iconic Cava brand in the world, it was in their cellars that this class of fizz was invented.

But the story of Codorníu goes back much further than 1872, when a pioneering Spanish winemaker would bring the traditional method of sparkling wine production to his native country. In fact, it reaches all the way back to 1551, to the year the first documents describing the Codorníu family’s winemaking efforts were written.

As Bruno Colomer, head winemaker at Codorníu, says: “The story of Codorníu is the story of Spain’s oldest winery, the origins of which date back to 1551. It’s the history of 18 successive generations of winemakers; of their conviction, zeal and perseverance; and how they create, innovate and make constant improvements.”

codorniu

HOMAGE TO CATALONIA

It’s unknown when, precisely, the Codorníu family started making wine. But by 1551, they were hard at work – and the name Jaume Codorníu is written proudly on documents discussing his vineyards and winemaking, marking the proud beginning of a legacy that would carry on for more than 500 years.

The story of Codorníu took a twist in 1659, when Anna Codorníu – the last remaining descendant of Jaume to bear his surname – married a man by the name of Miquel Raventós. Miquel was, himself, heir to a winemaking family. Their marriage would bring two powerful winemaking families together, bolstering the Codorníu winery’s reputation and winemaking capabilities. It would also, some 200 years later, alter the course of the Spanish wine industry forever.

In 1872, Anna and Miquel’s direct descendant arrived home from his travels through France. His name was Josep Raventós, and whilst abroad he had been thinking a lot about the family business. He had a profound passion for Catalonia, for the soil and native grape varieties of his home region.

Cordniu Raventos

But whilst abroad, he had witnessed first-hand how his counterparts across the border were making magic happen: turning still wine into sparkling wine.

As he had watched French winemakers turning still white wines into spectacular sparklers using a method they called the Méthode Traditionelle, he couldn’t help but wonder: would such a method work at home, with classic Spanish grapes?

The answer, we can all agree, is a resounding yes – as Josep discovered when the world’s first Cava hit the market, and cemented his family’s legacy as a powerhouse of Spanish winemaking.

SPANISH SPARKLES

The spirit of innovation that brought Cava to the world persists at Codorníu even to this day, and you can see it all over the Gran Codorníu Chardonnay in your May Bubble Box. From the bottle shape to the grape variety, this is no ordinary Spanish sparkler.

Codorniu Raventos

As Bruno explains, “Codorníu has always been a technical pioneer, and our improvements include better stirring systems, as well as the introduction of new grape varieties like Chardonnay in 1984 and Pinot Noir in 2002.”

In recent years, Codorníu has even established a microwinery in their beautiful wine cellars, designed by a disciple of Gaudí and named a National Monument of Historical and Artistic Interest by King Juan Carlos I of Spain in 1976. Called Celler Jaume as a tribute to the winery’s founder, it’s a place where winemakers can experiment and innovate freely – and perfect unusual expressions, like the bottle in your May Bubble Box.

And what a bottle this is! Your Gran Codorníu Chardonnay is a wonderful expression of all the amazing ways the Chardonnay grape interacts with the Catalan climate, producing a characteristic wine with buttery richness and aromatic, bright fruit flavours.

Codorniu

“Codorníu was a pioneer in growing Chardonnay grapes in the continental Spanish climate,” Bruno says, “and our longstanding expertise has enabled us to take a step further and create this exclusive Cava, which highlights the unique nuances of the grape variety.”
He continues: “Chardonnay produces aromatic Cavas with good structure, body and density. They linger in the mouth. When aged, the Cavas gain an additional complexity and a long-lasting, fruity authenticity.”

But, while the winemakers at Codorníu have embraced innovation and change, some things have been the same since Jaume Codorníu’s time at the helm.

“At Codorníu we know that the quality of Cava begins in the vineyard,” Bruno explains. “Our philosophy is to create a diversity of Cavas, using both native and international grapes, young or aged for a long time, but with a common denominator: maximum quality with a fresh, modern style and preserving the primary characteristics of each grape variety.”

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