GRAMONA’S LONG AGED SPARKLING WINES
One of the great things about Spanish wines is that there is almost always an interesting story – behind a particular wine, or portfolio of wines, the winemaker or the bodega itself. Sometimes, the story is about all of the above, and on many occasions the story starts in the past.
So, it was a multifaceted pleasure to visit the Gramona Sparkling Wine stand at the very recent, in fact, inaugural Barcelona Wine Week. Gramona is now part of the Corpinnat organisation but, having been founded in the 1850s, it has a long standing tradition of making fizz, mostly under the auspices of DO Cava.
I was lucky to visit at a time when family member, Leonard Gramona, was available to chat – an honour, and particularly interesting too, as he told me the story behind Gramona’s reputation for making top quality, long aged Sparkling Wine. And, although nothing like old enough to have been around then, it’s clear that the story has passed from one generation to the next!
1936 was, of course, a dreadful year for Spain. The Civil War was an awful time in so many ways and was then followed, of course, by the privations of the World War Two. A truly catastrophic period in history and a human tragedy, of course.
It was also an extremely worrying time for business generally, including the wine business. With no way of knowing what was going to happen, given the number of players in the Spanish Civil War, but fearing the worst, the Gramona wine family took the courageous step of deciding to hide most of their production of Cava, from all of the factions which were likely to steal/destroy it. Readers perhaps know that a similar story took place, a few years later in the famous wine producing areas of France when Nazi Germany invaded.
It must have been an extremely stressful time for those who took this step – invaders don’t take kindly to being made a fool of, so who knows what punishments would have been handed out if the Gramonas’ deception had been discovered! Fortunately for them (and nowadays, for us too!) it wasn’t and when they felt it safe to return to the hidden cellars they discovered that the fizz that had aged, untouched for at least four years, was of an outstanding quality! A concept was born!
Considering the above, it’s no surprise to learn that Gramona’s entry level sparkling wine, their best seller, has been aged for a grand 56 months (ok, I’ll do the maths for you – that’s over four and half years, biding its time in the now free to access cellars!). Made with Xarel.lo, Macabeo, Chardonnay and a tiny amount of Parellada, Gramona Brut Imperial retains that essential freshness that we all expect from fizz, but also has extra body and complexity, with more than just the beginnings of mature aroma and flavour profiles. An excellent start to the whole portfolio!
There’s another historical reference to the next wine I tasted, though it’s only the name that is taken from Roman times! III Lustros is a wine that has been aged for seven years – so long I can hardly work out the number of months, which is how fizz aging is usually noted! (Lustros means a period of five in Latin, and means that within this range there may be wines yet to come that have aged for 15 years!).
III Lustros is made with Xarel.lo and Macabeo, but is a Brut Nature, in fact the style of Spanish fizz that I like most. Again, it’s fresh, this time with a little more acidity, making it such a perfect match for canapés, seafood and check out oysters too!
This superb sparkling wine is made using not just organic farming, but also biodynamic principles – which, of course, take into consideration the sustainability of the soil, and the welfare of the creatures that live in it, for future generations. The bubbles are the finest, the elegance on the palate, in some ways defies its weight, though its presence in the mouth means it will be happy to be paired with light meats as well as fish, and shellfish, plus, it’s as long as you like on the finish. Superb!
Celler Batlle 2010 Brut, though at the lowest end of the residual sugar spectrum, has had more than 8 years resting on its lees, gaining maturity, complexity and different flavours and aromas. It’s at a venerable age and yet still speaks of its youth in its delightful freshness – a common trait with all Gramona wines, and a crucial element of all quality fizz.
You’ll find herbs on the nose, some mineral notes too along with ripe orchard fruits and a blanched nutty note, with some sprightly citrus whispers as well. It’s a taste and aroma sensation, allowing the taster to drift away on a magic carpet of pure pleasure. Yes, it will pair brilliantly with fish, shellfish, oysters again and whiter meats – chicken and turkey (if you feel like splashing out next Christmas . . . !), as well as pork, all with and without sauces.
But this stunning sparkling wine is just wonderful to drink on its own, with your best friends and family.
NB this article first appears in the morning of 14th February (you know where I’m going here!), there is time to nip out to a fine wine shop now, buy one of the Gramona range, chill it down during the day – and start your romantic Valentine’s night in real style! Twitter @colinonwine Facebook Colin Harkness firstname.lastname@example.org