October 4th, 2013
Sant Sadurní d’Anoia is situated in the Alt Penedès about 45 minutes by train from Barcelona. It is the world centre of cava production and each October puts on a festival to promote and celebrate the drink – El Cavatast. Cava is a sparkling wine produced in Cataluña and 7 other Spanish regions – it has to be made by the “méthode champenoise” (Champagne method) in order to bear the name. Cava means cave or cellar in Catalan and is said to come from the cellars dug to store the first cava produced around 1872.
After my lunch at Fifteen Raval I went to Plaça Cataluña with Oli, to meet Mike and catch a train out to Sant Sadurni for the opening night of this year’s Cavatast. The weather forecast was bad – storms and lightning. As the train arrived at Sant Sadurni we could see clouds rolling over the surrounding hills. You can see the dark sky above the Cava Freixenet factory situated next to the station.
We walked out of the station and around Freixenet, going down the road and across the gorge towards the town. As we walked down the hill the storm was upon us. After much fumbling we got our plastic macs on – Oli’s had no sleeves, as he’d bought it in the far east, so not great when wearing a jacket. This was all quite comical, but the temperature was about 24ºC and the humidity in Barcelona was 70-80%, coats were out of the question. By the time we’d crossed the ravine the macs were about to give up, fortunately we’d got to the first bar in town. We drank a refreshing vermut and within about 20 minutes the rain stopped.
We continued into town and by the time we got to c/ de la Ensenyança the heavens opened up again – this time with lots of thunder. We took shelter on the well covered terrace of Bar el Celleret – there was so much thunder and lightning that the bar owner’s whole family came out to watch (above). We sat and drank a bottle or two of rosado waiting for the storm to abate and during a break in hostilities were joined by our friend Debbie, who’d caught the next train out of Barcelona after us.
Amazingly the storm did stop, just in time for the opening of the festival at 7.30 (I bet the whole town had been praying). Above is the tent selling tiquets. It cost 6€ for 4 drink tickets and a glass, 5€ for 4 drink tickets and 5€ for 4 meal tickets. The price of the cava depended on the quality, the cheapest being 1 ticket and the best was 3.
We were at the bottom of the street and went to Segura Viudas first – their cava is made of Macabeo and Parellada grapes (both are common to cava production) – it smells like pears, toast and vanilla and tastes fruity.
Since we’d already had a few drinks some grain of common sense told us that eating would help us get through the evening intact (that and the fact that the restaurant tents get busier as the night goes on).
Cal Blay was doing a tasting plate of traditional regional food for 4 tickets. The meal consisted of Fideuà and Allioli (top) – a Paella like seafood dish, where vermicelli replaces the rice. Trinxat (left) – boiled cabbage and potatoes, fried with pork belly or bacon, very much like Bubble and Squeak. On the right was a Cannelloni in cheese sauce. In spite of the fact that Cannelloni is Italian in origin, it’s very popular in Spain. All the food was delicious and we wiped the plates clean.
We’d reached halfway point in the festival, you can see above just how busy it had become by about 8.30. The storms had done us a big favour though, normally the Cavatast is twice as busy!
Now fed, we continued
drinking tasting. Our next cava was Llopart, which was light and dry, with a touch of apple, peach and pineapple. This was probably our favourite cava of the evening.
The Agustí Torelló Mata Gran Reserva Brut nature smelled of flowers and toast, it was dry and crisp, tasting slightly of ripe fruit.
We’d gone through all our tickets by this point, but it was a good excuse to buy more and keep the alcohol in check with a little snack. Restaurant Mirador de les Caves featured four types of Croquete – one of my favourite taste sensations.
The train timetable ensured that we didn’t get too drunk, the last train him was at 10.38, but I did make sure I tried the Mascaró before leaving. I’ve enjoyed a lot of their VO brandy over the years, which is quite different to sherry brandy from the South of Spain. Their Cava Extra Brut was very good – made of Chardonnay, Parellada and Macabeo grapes. It tasted acidic and of apples, pears and brioche.
As we walked down the hill towards the station, Oli pointed out that all the bollards in Sant Sadurni are shaped like corks. You’ll know I wasn’t drunk and delusional because I took a photograph to make sure.