Monday, October 27, 2014

World Capital of Cava -- Sant Sadurni d’Anoia

In October I went to Spain on a whirlwind trip through of Cava Country, hosted as part of the Wine Pleasures 50 Great Cava Tour. One of the stops was in Sant Sadurni d'Anoia, the epicenter and world capital of Cava, located just outside of Barcelona.

In Sant Sadurni d’Anoia we visited the Centro de Interpretación de Cava – La Fassina de Can Guineu where an excellent multi-media presentation, on large interactive touch screen panels, told the story of the region and the history of Cava production. One of the most interesting sections depicted the many adverts and posters, beautiful examples of graphic design, promoting Cava Festivals over the years.

But the true focal point of the museum pertains to phylloxera. Most people think of phylloxera as a devastating pest that destroys vineyards, but from the perspective of Spain it was an economic opportunity to capitalize on the misfortune of France.

There is an entire exhibit room devoted to the phylloxera festival that's held every September 7 & 8 in Sant Sadurni d'Anoia. A short film shows the annual Phylloxera Festival as it celebrates the tiny bug in a lively fashion. Part Mardi Gras carnival, and part folk festival, the phylloxera is honored with a giant replica of the aphid and the whole town joins in a parade with many people wearing paper mâché bug heads that are quite horrific looking, or gruesome vine head masks that resemble the angry apple trees from the Wizard of Oz.

For a more profound experience, you can get up close and personal with a 3D phylloxera insect from larvae state to full-grown creature that will look you right in the eye as you stand before an interactive display. This is best experienced after a glass of Cava, or for those in a good state of mental health. If you are prone to nightmares I suggest you skip it.

The rest of the Centro de Interpretación de Cava has plenty to see including a 3D film on the region and wine making process.  The film ends with the motto: "the offspring of a feeling" --which I suppose can be open to all sorts if interpretations --but many in our group thought it evoked a double entendre. Well, not many in our group just one who shall remain nameless but here's a hint –“butter fingers” with an iPhone. Okay, enough insider information. On with the tour--

The museum was a previously a distillery, and in the basement, a former tank room, you can watch a light and sound show projected on the walls and ceiling that depicts the primary elements necessary for the production of Cava— earth, water, wind, fire/sunlight and of course, time. The room shakes with surround sound and a gentle breeze blows on cue to give you the feeling of total immersion in the vineyard. Afterwards you will be panting for a taste of Cava.

Luckily for us we only had to trot up a few flights of stairs to a conference room where we tasted several Cava's from the small artisan producer, Celler Vell. In the tasting line-up was the Estruch Brut Gran Reserva 2009, the Celler Vell Extra Brut Gran Reserva, and the Celler Vell Brut Nature Reserva --all awarded in the list of 50 Great Cava's of 2014.

Sant Sadurni d’Anoia is an easy day trip from Barcelona. The town square is just a few blocks from the train station and easy walking distance to the museum, shops, and many Cava tasting rooms.

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