I had no idea that Northern Spain was so fabulous until Segura Viudas, a wine company owned by Freixenet, Inc. invited me to visit as their guest. The first thing I learned is I landed in Catalonia; (also spelled Catalunya) an autonomous community within Spain. Catalonia has it’s own language, customs and culture. According to our hosts, Catalans speak Catalan and Spanish and many also speak English and French. Catalonia’s history is fascinating, dating back to pre-Roman times. As is my custom, I added a few personal days to the trip so I could see some sites. I was especially interested in Barcelona’s History Museum because in the basement there are Roman remains of the city of Barcino (Barcelona today) including a wine making area. (I’ll be publishing a post about that soon.)
Segura Viudas makes some of the best sparkling wines in the world. They use the traditional Méthode Champenoise, which means they make it the same way they do in Champagne, France. In Spain, sparkling wine is called Cava, which is a controlled protection term referring to sparkling wine made in the traditional method from a specific region in Spain. The winery building, located in the major grape growing region, Penedès, dates back to the 11th century. It’s last life prior to becoming a winery was that of a masia, a traditional Catalan country house. I enjoyed the feeling of being in an ancient home (albeit the size of a palace). Don Manual Segura Vallejo started making wine there in the 1950′s but did not market his wines until 1969. One of his three sons, Manuel Segura Viudas was responsible for managing the winery. Manuel’s high standards and interest in hiring top experts in grape growing, winemaking and technology has paid off for Segura Viudas which has been well-known for decades for impressive attention to detail and innovation.
I was lucky to meet the head winemaker, Gabriel Suberviola Ripa who has held the position since 1998. I’ve met many winemakers and the best ones, like Gabriel, instantly share an unbridled enthusiasm for talking about grapes, harvest, vintages and enjoyment of the final product. Our small group had two days of classes ending in a blending exercise where we tried to emulate or best Gabriel’s blend. Gabriel was the judge and I was very happy to receive third place, behind two well-seasoned wine buyers. Gabriel’s philosophy is in alignment with my own: 1) “…wines should be less concentrated and more refined, subtle and drinkable. (2)…aromatic wines are more highly favorable…but don’t let aromatics become excessively sharp. (3) …the wine world needs to use understandable language…people shouldn’t need a degree in oenology to understand what we are talking about!”
On that note, go enjoy some Segura Viudas wine. They are lovely, well-priced and pair well with food. (Look for posts soon about our multi-course paired meals!)