Cava Recaredo

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Josep Mata Capellades founded Cavas Recaredo in 1924, naming the domaine in honor of his father, Recaredo Mata Figueres. Josep Mata Capellades built the cellars in his house, in the historic centre of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. Parts of the cellars are now over 80 years old and have been conserved in their original form. Recaredo is a pioneer in the production of totally dry cavas, in working with oak barrels and in longer-aged cavas. Cavas Recaredo is currently managed by Josep and Antoni Mata Casanovas, the sons of its founder, with Ton Mata actively involved and representing the succeeding generation.

Recaredo owns forty-six hectares of vineyards in the Alt Penedes district planted primarily to the Xarello, Macabeu and Parellada grape varieties, with smaller amounts of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Monastrell (Mourvedre). Viticulture at Recaredo is based solely on dry farming; no herbicides or pesticides are used and only organic fertilizers are applied when necessary; grapes are harvested manually; and, production is limited to cavas that are completely dry. The estate strictly follows an organic viticulture regime.

Vinification is carried out entirely at the Recaredo cellars in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. The musts from the oldest Xarello vines ferment in oak barrels, which give structure and greater complexity for longer-aged cavas. Some of the base wine is aged in oak barrels for some months. This wine will be used to add greater finesse and structure to the final blending. At Recaredo, the wines are aged in-bottle in continuous contact with the second fermentation lees; the bottles are closed with 100% natural cork stoppers. Disgorging is carried out on an exclusively manual basis, at the cellars’ natural temperature, without freezing the necks of the bottles, a process that produces the most natural product possible. The cavas of Recaredo are disgorged totally dry with a zero dosage and all cuvées are vintage-dated.

Effectively, Can Recaredo, as the domaine is known, is a deeply traditional producer of the finest Cavas available in the market. To visit the cellars and observe the process is to return to another time when artisanal, hand-crafted products of the highest quality were the universally accepted standard, the goal that all sought to achieve. Here, in brief form is the Recaredo commitment:

• Production of single-vintage cavas only.
• Production of completely dry cavas: “Brut Nature”.
• Vinification, production and ageing 100% in-house.
• Ageing in bottle inside our caves, with real cork stoppers.
• Remuage by hand, in traditional racks.
• Manual disgorgement without freezing the bottle’s neck.

Celler Credo (Recaredo’s Still Wines)

The historical reputation of the Alt Penedès was built on sparkling wines, and the region today is largely commercially geared toward cranking out massive quantities of inexpensive Cava (whose bubbles and dosage mask a variety of sins), but recent years have seen a small number of growers experimenting with still-wine production, often to great effect. After all, the area’s high-altitude, well-ventilated limestone vineyards comprise a unique and assertive terroir, and the local grape varieties—particularly the acid-driven Xarel-lo—can voice these soils with great fluency when handled respectfully. At the forefront of this growing movement are Ton Mata and his loyal crew, who produce a series of still wines under the “Celler Credo” label which gorgeously articulate heretofore unseen facets of the local varieties, and which offer riveting, unadorned glimpses into the great vineyards of the Alt Penedès.

Sparkling Wine

2014 “Terrers” Corpinnat Brut Nature: Recaredo’s flagship wine is an evocative, delicious, and riveting encapsulation of the house style. With its four years of lees aging, and its hand-riddling and manual disgorging, “Terrers” is a “basic” cuvée that sees more back-of-house time and labor than the overwhelming majority of Champagnes of any echelon. Built on the back of the minerality-enhancing Xarel-lo (56%), with smaller amounts of Macabeu (42%) and Parellada (2%), the 2014 vintage of “Terrers” offers even more penetrating minerality than usual, with snappy orchard fruits, citrus blossom, and a nougat-like character all given definition by sizzling acidity. Its extended lees contact is felt more in the wine’s palate-commanding breadth than in any blatantly yeasty character, and it possesses a precision—an almost arch air of elegance—that shames its peers, while all the while remaining irresistibly delicious. Disgorged June 9th, 2019.
2011 “Serral del Vell” Corpinnat Brut Nature: With the 2008 vintage, Recaredo debuted their “Serral del Vell” cuvée—a single-vineyard offering whose embrace of a specific terroir runs counter to the mass blending that characterizes most sparkling wines in the Alt Penedès (or, for that matter, in Champagne). This highly calcareous high-altitude plateau produces wines of rigorous minerality and kinetic linearity, showcasing the region’s ability to rival Chablis in its transmission of limestone essence. The 2011 is both powerful and graceful, with a quince-jam quality to its vivid yet taut fruit (comprising equal parts Xarel-lo and Macabeu), and a tunneling, long-echoing finish of impressive cling. Notes of raw almond and vanilla bean speak to its nearly eight years of lees aging, but this wine is built on freshness rather than autolytic heft. Disgorged September 13th, 2019.
2007 “Reserva Particular” Brut Nature Gran Reserva: The most viscerally classic of Recaredo’s offerings, “Reserva Particular” traces its origins back to 1962, when Josep Mata Capellades debuted the region’s first ultra-long-aged sparkling wine. The current iteration of the cuvée uses the estate’s oldest vines of Macabeu and Xarel-lo (two-third and one-third, respectively), planted between 1950 and 1955 on steep slopes in the northwest sector of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, and it is a plumper, more thickly textured take on these limestone-dense vineyards than the “Serral del Vell” above. Recaredo’s characteristic precision and drive are on full display, but the overall impression is enveloping and luscious rather than hyper-chiseled; there is an analog-rather-than-digital quality here that evokes a bygone era of less-governable fermentation and a more open-armed embrace of wildness. The 2007 “Reserva Particular” spent over eleven years on its lees during secondary fermentation. Disgorged July 22nd, 2019.
2006 “Turo d’En Mota”: Recaredo’s most towering achievement, “Turó d’en Mota” expresses the outer limits of their methodology and stands unquestionably as the greatest sparkling wine produced in the Alt Penedès. This single-vineyard offering, produced from pure bush-trained Xarel-lo planted in 1940 on a northeast-facing (and hence acidity-retaining) slope, spends a staggering eleven years on its lees under natural cork for its secondary fermentation. Even after all that time, the lees buttress rather than dominate the wine’s profile, and its articulation of calcareous depths rivals that of the greatest Champagne or white Burgundy, but with a proudly and distinctively Mediterranean accent. Borne from a meteorologically balanced, healthy growing season with adequate rainfall, the 2006 is a skeptic-silencing masterpiece, with notes of white truffle and raw vanilla framing a penetrating, saliva-inducing palate of immense salinity and breadth. It is truly a wine outside category, and it must be tasted to be believed.
2014 “Intens” Corpinnat Rosat Brut Nature:Recaredo’s uncompromisingly vinous, deeply colored sparkling rosé is produced from fully ripe Monastrell and Garnacha, pressed slowly and given six hours of skin-maceration, and given five years of lees aging. Bright, sappy, and bursting with salt-flecked fruit, this 2014 simultaneously expresses the verve of the vintage and the solar imprint of the terroir. If most still rosé from the French stretch of the sea straitjackets itself with overcropping, sulfur, and a rush to bottling (that salmon color so beloved by the market requires some coercion), “Intens” expresses the full luscious heat of the Mediterranean in typically Recaredo-esque visceral fashion, yet it remains scintillatingly vibrant and refreshing to drink. Disgorged July 19th, 2019.

Still Wine

“Miranius” Penedès Blanco : “Miranius”—which translates loosely into Catalan as “peers into nests” (a tribute to the foxes which sometimes roam their biodiverse vineyards looking for a snack)—is 100% Xarel-lo, in part from some of the estate’s younger vines, and in part from fruit purchased from a handful of biodynamically farming friends in the immediate area. Fermentation proceeds spontaneously in stainless steel, and the wine rests on its fine lees in steel for six months before being bottled with a non-sterile filtration and a minuscule dose of sulfur. “Miranius” displays the brisk, agile side of Xarel-lo, a variety whose relatively neutral fruit character allows for a powerful articulation of calcareous minerality. Xarel-lo’s naturally high acidity brings balance in this warm Mediterranean climate, and indeed this wine is bright, saline, and immensely refreshing, as well as a tremendous value.

“Aloers” Penedès Blanco : “Aloers”—an old Catalan term for independent farmers in the Middle Ages—takes the basic spirit of the “Miranius” above and greatly ratchets up the depth, complexity, and intensity, offering a mouthwatering and tension-filled take on pure Xarel-lo. Its site of origin, called “Montargull,” was planted to bush vines in 1970 at 230 meters of altitude in the commune of Avinyonet del Penedès, 15 kilometers outside Recaredo’s cellar in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. “Aloers” is pressed whole-cluster and very slowly and gently, spending six months on its fine lees in steel, and it is kept in bottle for a year before its release to allow for Xarel-lo’s characteristic youthful austerity to diminish. Broad on the palate but laser-focused, “Aloers” tastes as if Maldon sea salt was sprinkled into the glass, and a persistent note of gunflint adds complexity to the apricot- and almond-like flavors.

“Can Credo” Penedès Blanco : Whereas “Miranius” and “Aloers” offer remarkably chiseled and linear takes on Xarel-lo, “Can Credo”—what locals call the Mata family’s home—plays in a different register. From a beautifully situated three-hectare parcel called “La Pedra Blanca” planted in 1992 at 200 meters altitude, “Can Credo” spends the first two days of its fermentation on its skins in old oak casks with twice-daily punch-downs, after which point it is pressed and returned to barrels to finish its fermentation and rest a few months on its lees. The wine is finished in stainless steel and held in bottle for a year before its release, like the “Aloers” above. Comparisons to Burgundy are frequently overutilized and misguided, but this wine offers a combination of profound limestone essence, ultra-subdued fruit character, and racy acidity whose only true analogue is Chablis (if only most Chablis were even close to this lively and expressive!). It swells on the palate, building toward a nearly overwhelming sense of mineral grip on the salivation-inducing finish, and the openness of texture engendered by the barrel fermentation does nothing to compromise the wine’s stunning sense of precision.

“Mirabelles” Penedès Blanco : With “Mirabelles” we move beyond Xarel-lo into uncharted waters. Within the vineyard “Can Rossell,” located 10 kilometers from Sant Sadurní d’Anoia at 200 meters altitude, Celler Credo tends 0.9 hectares worth of a local obscurity called Malvasia de Sitges—a variety of unknown origin that was nearly decimated by phylloxera in the late 19th century. The variety grows wild here, and Ton and his team harvest minute quantities of grapes each vintage from these low-yielding long-branched vines, which are spaced far apart and wonderfully aerated. Pressed whole-cluster, fermented in a combination of stainless steel and ceramic, and aged in steel for 18 months, the 2017 “Mirabelles” is explosively aromatic, offering a viscerally saline evocation of the nearby Mediterranean. Notes of tangerine oil and smoke offset the wine’s intense minerality, and a gripping sense of dry extract drives the wine toward a remarkably lengthy finish. This combination of unique variety and incredible terroir make for a completely singular experience, as “Mirabelles” offers a moving glimpse into the pre-Cava, pre-technological past of the region.

“Ambvivalent” Penedès Blanco : Sourced from a single hectare of the rare red Xarel-lo, a pink-skinned genetic variant of the far more commonly encountered white Xarel-lo, “Ambvivalent” is fermented on its skins for seven days, and it spends one year aging in previously used 300-liter oak casks. With fruit notably more luscious and supple than its white-Xarel-lo counterparts, “Ambvivalent” nonetheless cuts a racy figure, basting the palate with clingy salinity and driving to a super-long, clean finish of remarkable tension.

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Sparkling Wines, Even if 2020 Hasn’t Earned Them

By Eric Asimov
Nov. 12, 2020

The end of 2020 is mercifully in sight.

Ordinarily, November and December would be the time for gatherings, parties and celebrations. These are the months when the merchants of sparkling wine earn their keep.

This year? Sigh, and cue the shrug emoji.

We will find ways of commemorating the surreal nature of this year. But give up on sparkling wine? That’s just knuckling under to the forces of darkness.

Sparkling wine is made in just about every winemaking region of the world, in a multitude of styles and from almost any conceivable grape.

In recent decades, we’ve come to accept that sparkling wine can be appropriate for any occasion, not just christenings and ceremonies. All the same, nothing suggests a festive mood better than sparkling wine, even if the parties will be more subdued than usual.

This month we will look at several different sparkling wines, each from a different place and made with different grapes. Here are the three I suggest:

Ferrari Trento Brut Metodo Classico NV (Taub Family Selections, Boca Raton, Fla.) $25

Domaine Huet Vouvray Pétillant Brut 2014 (The Rare Wine Company, Brisbane, Calif.) $32

Recaredo Corpinnat Terrers Brut Nature 2014 (Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York) $33

The Ferrari is produced in northern Italy using the same method as Champagne. It even uses a Champagne grape, chardonnay.

The Recaredo is a cava, though it isn’t called that. Recaredo is like a number of leading Catalonian producers that feel the term “cava” has been diminished by the millions of low-quality bottles turned out every year. It, too, is made using the Champagne method, but with local grapes — xarello, parellada and macabeu, grown in the Penedès.

The Huet comes from the Vouvray region of the Loire Valley and is made of chenin blanc, though not by the Champagne method. Instead, Huet employs the methode ancestrale, like a pétillant naturel. Huet does not use that term, although it calls the wine pétillant in another sense of the word, which indicates that the carbonation is gentler than would be typical in a Champagne-style wine.

If you can’t find these wines, plenty of other choices are available. Other good cava-style wine producers include Gramona, Raventós i Blanc, Mestres, Bohigas, AT Roca, Loxarel and Parés Baltà.

Likewise, if you can’t find the Huet, other good chenin blanc sparklers include François Pinon, Jacky Blot, François Chidaine, Arnaud Lambert and Foreau.

The Ferrari should not be hard to find, but if you can’t for some reason, a lot of other Champagne facsimiles are out there, including Franciacorta in Italy or any number of California sparklers. You could always try a Champagne, too, or go further afield, as with a sekt from Germany or Portuguese sparkling wines.

Drink it with fried chicken, or with pizza. Try it with jamón Ibérico with nuts, or really anything you like. I don’t much like Champagne with caviar — that’s vodka’s reason for being — but if you like, why not? Or just drink it with ceremony.

As for 2020, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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