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Fizzy Facts: Gran Codorníu Chardonnay

by Lucinda Beeman - May 19, 2017

Summer fruits and toasty notes intermingle in this sparkling Chardonnay, harvested from Codorníu’s oldest vineyard. Here are five key facts about this amazing wine.

WHERE IT’S FROM

This toasty wine is from the traditional Cava-producing region of Spain: Catalonia. In fact, it comes to you from the oldest vineyards of the original winery to make this now highly respected variety of wine.

With hot summers, warm winters, large variations between day and night temperatures and poor, shallow soils that prevent excessive vine growth, the Catalan wine region produces white grapes with highly concentrated flavours. In the hands of experienced winemakers – like those at the helm of Codorníu – these grapes can go on to become wonderful expressions of their variety in sparkling wine.

HOW IT’S MADE

This wine is composed of 100% Chardonnay grapes, grown in Codorníu’s oldest vineyards in the Costers del Segre, a Denominación de Origen in the Catalan province of Lleida. The grapes are grown using methods developed specifically to produce excellent sparkling wine grapes.

In mid-August, the grapes are harvested in the dead of night, which keeps the grapes fresh and preserves their aroma. The grapes are crushed and the resulting must, or juice, is fermented in temperature-controlled tanks for up to two weeks. Part of the Chardonnay must is fermented in contact with oak, which gives this wine nuance, structure and complexity.

The base wine is then blended and decanted into the very same bottle you’ll eventually open, where it undergoes a second fermentation in underground cellars (called Cavas). This is called the ‘traditional method’, and is the same used to make Champagne. This Reserve Cava spends at least 15 months in Codorníu’s cellars before being disgorged, topped up and corked. No additional sugar is added during the disgorgement process, due to the Chardonnay grape’s buttery characteristics.

WHO’S BEHIND IT

Codorníu is synonymous with Spanish sparkling wine – and for good reason. It was at this winery, in 1872, that Josep Raventos, a descendent of the Codorniu family made the first bottles of Cava wine using the traditional method.

But Codorníu’s history actually extends back to 1551, when the first records of Jaume Codorníu’s vineyards and his winemaking were written. The Codorníu cellars, designed in the Catalan Modernist style, were declared a National Historic Artistic Monument in 1972 by King Don Juan Carlos of Spain, solidifying Codorníu’s place in Spanish history and heritage.

HOW IT TASTES

Pale yellow with golden highlights, take a moment to notice this wine’s fine mousse and persistent crown on the surface of the wine. You should smell toasty notes from the wine’s time spent in contact with yeast, along with bright summer fruits like peach and cherry. These aromas will open and evolve the longer this wine is left in the glass.

On the palate, notice how creamy and balanced this wine feels. You should taste buttery Chardonnay and a touch of oak in this superb expression of Catalan terroir and Codorníu experience.

HOW TO DRINK IT

Drink this wine chilled between six and eight degrees Celsius. The way you cool this wine matters; avoid bringing the temperature down too quickly, as you might by putting it in the freezer, and instead give it time to chill in an ice bucket with water and salt.

A complex sparkling wine, this Cava is perfect served with a meal. It’s delicious with a wide variety of dishes, including risotto, seafood, duck magret, stews, smoked or spiced dishes, or any of the recipes you’ll find on page 18.

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