Gramona follows Champagne with R.D. Cava1st May, 2014 by Lucy Shaw
Family-owned Cava producer Gramona is aiming to compete with top-end Champagnes with the release of a recently disgorged 14-year-old Gran Reserva.
Just 1,500 bottles of Gramona Enoteca Finca La Plana Gran Reserva Brut 2000 have been released, with a pricetag of €125 a bottle. Due to limited stock, the fizz will remain within the domestic market in Spain.
Following the Bollinger R.D. model, a sticker on the front of the bottle highlights the fact that the wine was disgorged in 2013.
Rather than using Champagne grapes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Enoteca is a blend of 70% Xarel.lo and 30% Macabeo – two of the three key grapes used in Cava production.
All of the grapes used in the blend hail from a single site in Penedès – Finca La Plana – owned by the Gramona family.
The high percentage of Xarel.lo was selected for the blend by owner Xavier Gramona specifically for its ageing potential.
“Xarel.lo has the highest levels of resveratrol of any white grape and higher levels than Pinot Noir, which makes it the perfect grape for sparkling wines designed to age,” Gramona told the drinks business during a visit to Penedès this week.
In his quest for quality, he has enlisted the help of French soil experts Claude and Lydia Bourguignon to advise on how to get the best out of his terroir.
One of his recent discoveries with the Bourguignons is that after 40 years, vines are unable to offer the sufficient nitrogen levels needed for autolysis.
Keen to make world class Cava that can compete with the top Champagnes, Gramona believes the thread that unifies great sparkling wine is extended ageing.
“If you look at the top sparkling wines of the world, all of the icons spend at least a decade in the cellar before they are released,” he told the drinks business.
“For a fizz to reach its full flavour potential it has to spend an extended time in contact with the lees. Around 80% of a sparkling wine’s flavour profile comes from this contact with the yeast.
“We don’t do malolactic fermentation as we don’t have the sufficient acidity levels to do so, and yet our Cavas boast the creamy notes usually found from that process because after around seven years of ageing, the yeasts naturally imbue lactic notes in the wine.
“Extended ageing in contact with the yeast also gives balsamic notes without the need for oak,” he added.
Gramona stressed the importance for Cava producers to focus on quality, though admitted that his business model was made easier by being a family-owned company.
“In order to make complex Cavas you need to think longterm, which requires time, money and self belief. It helps that we’re a family company,” he said, adding that a lot of Cava producers struggle to get their dosage levels right.
“Dosage should be treated like perfume – you only need to add a little to enhance the wine’s attractiveness. It’s alchemy that is never taught,” he said.
An Extra Brut version of Enoteca Finca La Plana Gran Reserva is due for release later this year.
Gramona produces around 600,000 bottles of Cava a year, the majority of which are Reserva and Gran Reservas.