Gramona, Spain, Penedes
Gramona are acknowledged, in Spain and beyond, to be the finest of all Cava Houses (voted 26th in the World’s Most Admired Wine Brands by Drinks International 2016). Located in the Alt Penedes region, 30km south of Barcelona, it is the perfect location to produce Cavas.
Gramona has formed an alliance with a unique grape variety: the Xarel-lo, the backbone of their cavas. The fifth generation of Gramona has also started making still wines and sweet wines which aim to express the character of their local terroir and delight lovers of good wine. True to their belief in respecting the environment, they manage their vineyards according to organic and biodynamic principles.
In 1850, the family’s great-great-grandfather, Josep Batlle, was working as a winemaker and grower for a family who owned the vineyards in La Plana, in the Anoia River valley. When phylloxera was ravaging the vineyards of France and much of Europe, Josep Batlle’s son, Pau, set about selling wine to the French sparkling wine producers, who knew the Catalonia region well, as it was their main cork supplier at the time. Using the Xarel·lo as a base, Pau learnt how to refine his own wines for this purpose. This led to him setting up his own winery, Celler Batlle, in 1881, and enabled him to buy the vineyards that his father used to work.
The next generation, Pau’s daughter, Pilar, married Bartolomé Gramona, the son of Josep Gramona, the then president of the Barcelona Taverners Guild, and founder of La Vid Catalana newspaper of the Catalan Association of Wine Producers, and from San Sadurní.
1945 was the start of a new era for Gramona, under the stewardship of Bartomeu y Josep Lluis, the ‘hard working’ generation. They were the visionaries and pioneers behind long-aged cavas. The first Gramona III Lustros was created in 1951 and was a pioneering cava in that it was designed for long ageing (It was released on the market in 1961). Up until the late 20th century, the two brothers were at the helm of a small winery, highly regarded for the quality of its cavas.
Gramona – The Present Day
Today the destiny of Gramon’s wines is shaped by the personality of a new generation of Gramonas, made up of Jaume Gramona, a hard working, highly skilled and uncompromising oenologist with the spirit of an explorer; and another Gramona, Xavier, a visionary and a thinker with a strong analytical mind. Both men are committed to the excellence of cava. Above them stands the figure of Josep Lluis, the Gramona father and uncle. To both men, this canny and seasoned businessman, with an eternally youthful spirit, has passed on the values of common sense, typical of the Catalan entrepreneur. They interpret and transform the wealth of wisdom inherited from the generations who have gone before.
Location and Climate
Gramona is located in the Alt Penedés region, 30 kms south of Barcelona. The climate is typically Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and mild winters. Our vineyards are protected during the harsher winters by the majestic, rocky Montserrat mountain to the north.
In general, our soils are clay- and calcareous-loam, with a few areas of alluvial soil found near the Anoia River and slate soil closer to Montserrat. These soils are also characterised by the presence of têtes de poupées, calcareous formations of bacterial origin, which mineralize, refresh and enrich the subsoil and therefore the vine.
La Plana, Font Jui, Mas Escorpí, and La Solana are some of the vineyards from which we source our Xarel·lo, Macabeo, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir grapes. We grow as many as 15 different grape varieties for the two denominaciones de origen under which we work: the Cava DO for sparkling wines made using the traditional method and the Penedés DO for the still wines. We tend around 100 hectares, according to our wine growing principles, half of which are owned and half leased, mainly via contratos de vida de viña (lifetime vineyard contracts).
The family built its first winery, Celler Batlle, in 1881, and was to make wine there for 120 years. Gramona “reinvented itself” in 2001, with the construction of a new winery, where it has since been exploring various eco-sustainable development-related themes. The family’s first step was to design and build a winery respecting the norms of bioclimatic architecture, ensuring that it integrated harmoniously within the landscape. Most of the building sits 8 metres underground, providing the winery with thermal insulation along with the associated savings in energy consumption.
The winery has since incorporated a system for treating and reusing waste water and, working with the Rovira y Virgili University, introduced renewable energy such as geothermal energy, which has now been joined by the quest for solar energy. The winery has obtained ISO 14.000 certification for its environmental management.
Recently, they have installed a photovoltaic solar system in the Celler Batlle that allows us to reduce 15% our electrical consumption.
Once the grapes are picked, the process of vinification in Celler Batlle begins. At Gramona we assume responsibility for each and every step involved in the winemaking process, from the vine to the bottle. The grapes are picked by hand, go onto a sorting belt, are transferred by gravity, and pressed whole. These were innovative practices in cava production, and sparkling wine production in general, when they were first introduced at Gramona.
Manual picking ensures that the fruit is handled with greater care. The bunches are individually cut by hand so that they reach the winery intact. A first sorting of the grapes is carried out in the vineyards. We use small 20 kg crates to ensure that the grapes do not burst and are not crushed before their arrival at the winery. It is important that we pick the grapes at their optimum point of maturity depending on the varietal and the wine being made. Good planning of the reception of the harvested grapes at the winery is also vital, which is why we employ specialized staff.
Grape Variety: 50% Xarel·lo, 40% Macabeu and 10% Chardonnay
Retail Price: S$72.00
About the Wine: Pale yellow with golden highlights. Good intensity on the nose, with ripe white fruit such as apple and peach, coupled with Aniseed notes and fennel. Nice balance between notes of freshly baked bread and subtle citrus peel aromas. Also, there are hints of dried nuts, subtle toast and yeast notes with buttery aromas. On the palate, the wine is wide on entry, full and creamy with a refreshing finish. Velvet like bubbles. The white flowers and fruit aromas come through again on the palate against a backdrop of freshly baked bread. A cava with structure, which shows personality and finesse year after year. The Gramona Imperial is particularly versatile and can be enjoyed throughout the meal, from the ‘aperitif’ through to the ‘digestif’
Grape Variety: 75% Xarel.lo, 25% Macabeo
Retail Price: S$87.00
About the Wine: Straw hue with golden highlights. The nose is intense with clear notes of maturity under a constant veil of freshness. Hints of baked apple, sweet pears, ripe citrus & grapefruit peel. Faded flowers and a herbal backdrop reminiscent of fennel and rosemary. The ageing notes run through a gamut of aromas which includes hazelnuts, pastries, toast, brioche and toffee. The cava becomes more and more expressive as it opens up in the glass. On the palate, it is powerful on entry with great structure. The carbon dioxide is fine and creamy. The wine is loaded with candied fruit balanced by the notes from aging. The balsamic aromas come through again. Lively, refreshing finish on the palate. The aftertaste is never-ending.
Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
Retail Price: S$103.00
About the Wine: Surprising hue which is virtually straw coloured with onion skin highlights. The nose has an unusual aromatic profile, ranging from subtlety to complexity. Pronounced floral spectrum (poppies, fresh red roses), red fruits (wild strawberries, blueberries, red currants) and smooth ageing notes (egg flans, butter and puff pastries). A constant touch of chalk in the background. On the palate, it is very fresh on entry, gaining in body and fine vertical fruit structure over the palate. Very smooth, crisp carbon dioxide, which blends with a lively, sustained acidity.
Grape Variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Retail Price: S$67.00
About the Wine: Very intense fruit, aromas and ageing notes on the nose. Stone fruit such as nectarine and apricot. Pineapple and citric aromas which blend in with the fresh herbal notes, fennel, hay, mint and asparagus. Fine toasted flavours and vanilla. Salinity and a mineral trace, along with subtle smoky hints. On the palate, the wine is smooth on entry, full and medium bodied. The tropical fruit, citrus and herbal aromas come through again. A saline touch and refreshing acidity on the finish. Long, resounding aftertaste. A stylish ensemble.
Grape Variety: 100% Gewurztraminer
Retail Price: S$67.00
About the Wine: Pale yellow with brilliant green highlights. The wine has great aromatic expressiveness, with notes of citrus, tropical fruits, lychees, guavas, mangos, and apricots. Delicate floral fragrance, such as white roses. On the palate, it is pleasant on entry, silky, and unctuous. Nice weight of fruit, and very refreshing on the finish which balances the sweetness and invites you to carry on sipping! This wine has numerous potential pairings, especially fruit based desserts, which bring out the wine’s citrus, tropical and floral touches. Puff pastries, flans or meringues. Due to its good acidity, it can also be enjoyed with foie gras and cheeses, especially soft cheeses.