Recently seven of the world’s finest winemakers converged for the first time in the United States. New York City and Washington, D.C. played host to the first-ever Codorníu-Raventós/Aveníu Brands Winemaker Tour which aimed to bring together the eight winemakers which make up the Codorníu Raventós portfolio. Representing ten wine regions in three countries these winemakers presented a vast selection of incredible wines from their individual wineries. I had the good fortune attend the Washington, D.C. event and meet the winemakers. It was a truly memorable experience.
Dating back to 1551, Codorníu is the oldest family business in Spain and the 17th oldest in the world. At this time, Jaume Codorníu owned vineyards and was operating a winery in Sant Sadurní, just outside Barcelona. In 1659, Anna de Codorníu and Miquel Raventós married bringing the two families together and creating the foundations for today’s winery. In 1872, Josep Raventós made the first bottling of sparkling wine – Cava – using the traditional method. The Cordoniu-Raventós history is long and storied. The first visit to the U.S.. provided an incredible opportunity to learn more about one of Spain’s best Wine brands. Allow me to introduce you to the Cordoniu-Raventós family (as well as the excellent wines they presented):
Bodegas Bilbainas (Rioja Alta, Spain) – In 1859, French winemakers came to the town of Haro, in Rioja, to escape the plague of phylloxera in Bordeaux to produce red wine to send back to France. A group of business acquired the bodega in 1901 where the wines began to travel to other European markets. In 1925 Bodegas Bilbainas was chosen “Official Supplier of the Spanish Royal Crown.” The winery is also the largest owner of vineyards in Haro. Winemaker: Diego Pinilla (since 2007).
- 2010 Viña Zaco (DOCa Rioja) – 100% Tempranillo
- 2010 Viña Pomal Crianza (DOCa Rioja) – 100% Tempranillo
- 2008 Viña Pomal Reserva (DOCa Rioja) – 100% Tempranillo
- 2004 Viña Pomal Gran Reserva (DOCa Rioja) – 100% Tempranillo
- 2008 Viña Pomal Alto de la Caseta (DOCa Rioja) – 100% Tempranillo
Scala Dei (Priorat, Spain) – I must admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for this winery. I visited Scala Dei in 2006 and had an incredible time there (not to mention some amazing wine). This winery (which means “Ladder to God” in Latin) dates back to the 12th century. Nestled amongst Priorat’s typical landscape – “costers” terraced hillsides replete with licorella (slate) soil and altitudes ranging from 1600 to 2600 feet. The winery owns and farms 100% of the grapes for their wines and implements environmentally friendly wine growing practices. Winemaker: Ricard Rofes (since 2007).
- 2011 Scala Dei Negre (DOCa Priorat) – 100% Garnacha Tinta
- 2008 Scala Dei Prior (DOCa Priorat) – 45% Garnacha, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cariñena, 10% Syrah
- 2007 Scala Dei Cartoixa (DOCa Priorat) – 60% Garnacha Tinta, 25% Cariñena, 10% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Legaris (Ribera del Duero/Rueda, Spain) – This winery benefits from over 2000 years of wine growing in the Ribera del Duero D.O. The vineyards are typical for the region (alluvial, gravelly, sandy-loam soils) and sit on the bends of the Duero River. A continental climate provides extreme temperature variances – very cold winters and hot summers as well as colder evenings and warmer days. The winery experiments with a variety of casks from different origins and use as many as 20 different types of barrels to age Legaris wines. Winemaker: Jorge Bombin (since 2010).
- 2012 Legaris Verdejo (DO Rueda) – 100% Verdejo
- 2010 Legaris Crianza (DO Ribera del Duero) – 96% Tinta Fina (Tempranillo), 4% Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2006 Legaris Reserva (DO Ribera del Duero) – 100% Tinta Fina (Tempranillo)
- 2009 Legaris Tinta Fina Muestra L (DO Ribera del Duero) – 100% Tinta Fina (Tempranillo)
Codorníu (Penedes, Spain) – Who doesn’t love a great Cava? Codorníu is one of Spain’s oldest wine families producing wine for more than 450 years. It has also been a supplier to the Spanish Crown since 1897. Quality and innovation is the focus of Codorníu. The winery learned early on that Chardonnay and Pinot Noir added flavor and quality to the traditional Cava blend, and they have been an innovator in Cava production. These are truly spectacular Cavas – whether for a daily drinker or a special occasion. Winemaker: Bruno Colomer Martí (since 2008).
- NV Anna de Codorníu Brut Cava (DO Cava-Penedes) – 70% Chardonnay, 30% Parellada
- NV Anna de Codorníu Brut Rosé Cava (DO Cava-Penedes) – 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay
- 2010 Gran Codorníu Vintage Pinot Noir (DO Cava-Penedes) – 100% Pinot Noir
- NV Gran Codorníu Reserva Chardonnay (DO Cava-Penedes) – 100% Chardonnay
- 2007 Gran Codorníu Gran Reserva Xarel.lo (DO Cava-Penedes) – 100% Xarel.lo
- 2007 Gran Codorníu Gran Reserva Chardonnay (DO Cava-Penedes) – 100% Chardonnay
- 2007 Gran Codorníu Gran Reserva Pinot Noir (DO Cava-Penedes) – 100% Pinot Noir
Raimat (Costers del Segre, Spain) – In 1914 when Manuel Raventós (son of Josep Raventós) needed more land to plant vineyards, he turned to a large, stony desert plot 100 miles from Barcelona. Shortly thereafter he pioneered the building of a canal from the Pyrenees to this area (Costers del Segre) so it could be properly irrigated. Decades later, the winery that sits on this land is producing world-class wines. In 1975, Raimat introduced some of Spain’s first single varietal wines. Winemaker: Mark Nairn (since 2007).
- 2012 Raimat Albariño (DO Costers del Segre) – 100% Albariño
- 2012 Raimat Chardonnay (DO Costers del Segre) – 100% Chardonnay
- 2012 Raimat Xarel.lo Chardonnay (DO Costers del Segre) – 50% Xarel.lo, 50% Chardonnay
- 2008 Raimat Tempranillo (DO Costers del Segre) – 100% Tempranillo
- 2008 Raimat Cabernet Sauvignon (DO Costers del Segre) – 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Septima (Mendoza, Argentina) – This winery was founded in 1999 as the seventh (Spanish, “septima”) winery of Codorníu. Sitting at 3400 feet above sea level, this area of Mendoza has an ideal microclimate for growing top-notch Malbec. Winemaker: Paula Borgo (since 2010).
- 2011 Septima Malbec – 100% Malbec
- 2009 Septima Gran Reserva – 55% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Tannat
- 2009 Septima Petreo Malbec – 100% Malbec
Artesa (Carneros, California, U.S.) – Artfully set into a hilltop with views of Napa Valley, Artesa overlooks the Carneros appellation. It is owned by the Raventós family and takes its name from the Catalan word for “handcrafted.” The focus of this winery is on producing small, ultra-premium lots of the varietals for which this area is well-known – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaker: Mark Beringer (since 2009).
- 2011 Artesa Carneros Chardonnay – 100% Chardonnay
- 2010 Artesa Napa Valley Estate Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay – 100% Chardonnay
- 2010 Artesa Carneros Pinot Noir – 100% Pinot Noir
- 2010 Artesa Estate Reserve Napa Valley Pinot Noir – 100% Pinot Noir
- 2010 Artesa Single Vineyard Napa Valley Block 91D – 100% Pinot Noir
In addition to tasting these wines during the event some lucky guests were also treated to a winemaker seminar where each highlighted one or more of their top wines. This event was hosted by Roger Kugler (Sommelier, Wine Educator) in New York City and by Kevin Zraly (Author, Wine Educator) in Washington, D.C. Learn more about the winemakers here. The wines of Codorníu Raventós show incredible diversity and skill in winemaking. Do not hesitate to grab one of these off the shelf should you come across one (or more) in your travels.
Life is short. Drink Spanish wine!