When it comes to Cava, one family-run vineyard has found the perfect balance between tradition and innovation.
When Agustí Torelló was 14, he got the job that would change his life, in the cellars of his uncle’s winery. It was 1949, and times were hard – but young Agustí, from a long line of musicians and tailors, had stumbled into this passion.
“I liked the work,” he says now, aged 81 and the patriarch of one of Spain’s finest Cava wineries. “So I signed up for one local winemaking course, and then another.”
It was a humble beginning to a long and illustrious career. Agustí worked hard on his craft and travelled extensively, tasting all kinds of wines. Before too long he was directing leading companies and a proud recipient of the first medal of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture – but all this time he was harbouring a little secret: he was working on a Cava of his very own.
Starting in 1979, Agustí tinkered away with a passion project: Cava Kripta. Using only the oldest grapes of the Penedès Cava region and aged for more than six years in the bottle, it’s truly remarkable.
“Everything about the Kripta is exceptional,” Agustí says. “The grapes are grown organically and harvested by hands, the pressing is very soft…every step must be perfect.”
As amazing as his Kripta Cavas turned out to be, Agustí longed to bring his passion for and knowledge of his region – and its famous sparkling wines – to a broader audience. And so, in 1986, he began construction of a new winery in Sant Sadurní.
He couldn’t have chosen a better place. At the geographical and spiritual centre of Cava production, this beautiful town hosts the annual Cavatast, where almost 50 sparkling wine producers serve more than 40,000 glasses to Cava fans in just three days.
With an abundance of talent and experience – and an HQ in the perfect spot – Agustí set his mind to honouring his home region with incredible Cavas. And, unlike other producers who have started adding Chardonnay and other non-native grapes to their wines, he’s refused to grow anything but the region’s native grape varieties: Macebeo, Xarel.lo, Parellada and Trepat.
Agustí explains, “Our commitment to the indigenous varieties is due to our desire to transport our customers to our land. Our goal is that when somebody is tasting our Cava they feel the soil, the climate and the vineyards of Penedès. The best way to do that is to work with grapes you can’t find in any other place.”
All of the Cavas made here start as grapes grown on the oldest and best vines in the vineyard, all of which are cultivated organically. The grapes are harvested by hand and pressed gently to make the best-possible base wine for Agustí’s spectacular Cavas. “Only in this way can we guarantee the best source for unique and exceptional sparkling wines.”
The beautiful Gran Reserva Brut Cava in October’s Bubble Box this month has been made using this same painstaking production method. A perfect balance of Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parellada grapes, its freshness is typical of these native grapes. It’s a versatile wine, perfect for any occasion and with any kind of food.
“The long maturation in the bottle gives the wine complexity, body and smooth bubbles,” says Agustí. “It’s perfect to pair with tapas, rice, fish, meat or cheese.”
This wonderful sparkling wine is a combined effort by Agustí and his son Alex, an equally talented winemaker with 25 years of experience. He now works alongside his father at Agustí Torelló Mata, and is just as committed to upholding the incredible winemaking traditions of this spectacular region, now and into the future.
As Agustí says, “As a small, family company we want to maintain the quality of our products, and to use our land respectfully. We are strong advocates of the common heritage that is Cava.”