Most wine lovers know Codorniu Raventos as a producer of Cava. That’s understandable as, in 1872, Codorniu became the first winery in Spain to focus on sparkling production and essentially created the category of wine now known as Cava. The company’s move to effervescence followed Josep Raventos’ sales tour of Europe in the previous decade, during which he was taken with the wines of Champagne. Nearly 150 years later, Cava still represents the majority of the company’s revenue.
However, Codorniu Raventos entry into wine production dates back to the year 1551. The company to lays claim to being the oldest, still-operating wine producer in Spain, that country’s oldest family business and the 17th oldest in Europe.
And Codorniu Raventos’ holdings go well beyond Cava. They include ten wineries and more than 20 brands representing a range of regions and wine styles. These include Bodegas Bilbainas in Rioja, Raimat in Costers del Segre, Legaris in Ribeira del Duero, Scala Dei in Priorat, Bodega Septima in Mendoza, Argentina and Artesa in Carneros, California.
I recently attended a seminar where I tasted some high-end wines from Codorniu Raventos Cava, Bodegas Bilbainas’ Viña Pomal and Scala Dei. Each shows Codorniu Raventos pushing the boundaries of common conceptions about wines from these areas, and driving quality in the process. Today’s article focuses on the Cava.
Codorniu Raventos Cava
2007 Codorniu Ars Collecta 456 Cava DO, Spain 94+ 12.1% 750ml ~$199
Ars Collecta 456 is a special release of vintage brut Cava. It combines three grape varieties from three different climate zones. [“456” commemorates the number of vintages in Codorniu’s history.] This wine aged more than 90 months on lees in bottle at the winery. 1,500 bottles were produced. Consejo Regulador del Cava, that DO’s official organization, gave the 2007 vintage its top rating of “excellent.”
- 45% of the cuvée is Chardonnay from Viña le Pleta where poor, shallow, lime-clay soils, 938 feet of elevation and a Continental climate result in concentrated grapes with high acidity.
- 45% of the blend is Pinot Noir from Viña el Coster with slate-like Llicorella soils in Serralada de Prades, a moderate Continental climate zone. The vineyard is high up and faces northeast which limits vigor and ripeness while highlighting structure and minerality.
- The remaining 10% is a traditional Cava grape, Xarel-lo, from Viña el Nansa in Bajo-Medio which has a Mediterranean climate.
The 2007 Codorniu Ars Collecta 456 is easily the best Cava I’ve ever tasted. It can go toe-to-toe with sparkling wines from anywhere in the world. Ars Collecta is pale lemon in color with tiny bubbles from very well-integrated CO2 which produces a creamy mousse on the palate. Toast, from the extended aging, leads the aromas, but green apple, mineral and lemon are also prominent. The extremely long, lively and textured palate also has toast at its core. That’s complemented by lemon curd, green apple and spice. The 2007 Codorniu Ars Collecta 456 is superb now, but will gain complexity with five-to-ten years of careful cellaring.
2012 Codorniu Jaume de Codoniu 92 12.0% 750ml ~$43 92
This is a limited-release Cava Gran Reserva. Wines designated Gran Reserve in the Cava DO must have aged at least 30 months on lees in the bottle. This one ages for at least 48 months. Like the Ars Collecta 456, Jaume de Codorniu is a three-variety, three-region blend with 45% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir and 10% Xarel.lo. While the wine has undergone extended aging, the intent here is to produce a Cava which is at peak upon release.
The inviting nose on this fine-bubbled Cava offers brioche, delicate blossoms and apples, both green and yellow. The palate is rich, but refreshing, with flavors of brioche, lemon, green apple and underripe yellow apple. Minerality emerges for the finish. Enjoy it over the next year.
Enjoy my other articles on Codorniu Raventos wines
Copyright Fred Swan 2017. Photo courtesy of Codorniu Raventos. All rights reserved.