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We went to Catalunya to find out what decent cava tasted like and to try the Grenache-based wines of Empordá near the border with France that had been getting good reviews as a re-emerging ancient wine area.
Itinerary, Accommodation and Restaurants, and Winery Visit Notes
Friday night fly to Barcelona, Sunday drive to Llançà and Thursday evening fly back to the UK. When we told people in Barcelona that we were going to Llançà they looked blank and said ‘why?’. Well, Llançà, Cadaques and Roses looked like interesting places to stay. Llançà has a Michelin star restaurant, a nice beach and is closer to the wineries so it wins.
Accommodation and Restaurants
Hotel Cram, C/Aribau 54, Barcelona Tel. +34 932 167 700 www.hotelcram.com
Hotel Cram has modernly furnished rooms, a roof-top bar and dip-pool and most importantly the Angel Restaurant. It is not in the most historical part of town but has some good things nearby, especially Reserva Iberica www.reservaiberica.com a ham shop where one can taste 4 or 5 different styles of jamón – very interesting.
Whilst in Barcelona we mainly ate in tapas bars and coffee shops except on Saturday night when we went to Angle which had been awarded a Michelin star between the time we booked and when we had dinner. And it certainly deserved it.
Angle Restaurant *
Aragó, 214 – 08011 Barcelona Tel +34 93 216 77 77 www.restaurantangle.com
Angle Iberian ham
Angle tasting menu
We went for their tasting menu (see above) which had a dozen courses (€80) all of which we liked and thought that they must get a star from Michelin soon, not realising that they already had. This was accompanied by Raventósi Blanc Finca (€33) and a Viña Tondonia ‘02 (€40). The price of the Rioja indicated that they wanted to get rid of it but it was excellent aged Rioja.
In Llançà we stayed at the Hotel Grifeu www.hotelgifeu.com
Hotel Grifeu beach
Hotel Grifeu with Llançà in the distance
Hotel Grifeu is all about the beach; the hotel itself is a bit of an anachronism. There is no lift and no fridge in the room; bringing food and drink onto the premises is banned. It seems to be managed/owned by 2 elderly sisters; Faulty Towers comes to mind.
Restaurant Cal Sagristà
Rodona 2 17491 Peralada Tel 972 53 83 01
Restaurant Cal Sagristà
Restaurant Cal Sagristà piglet belly
On the way up to Llançà from Barcelona we stopped off in Perelada to have lunch at Restaurant Cal Sagristà a small family-run restaurant that gets a Bib Gourmand from Guide Michelin. Since we were late in arriving (the only reason we actually got in) we restricted ourselves to the house fetge (foie) gras terrine (€7) and shared a piglet belly (€17) all washed down with Perelada Brut cava (€10). Both courses were so good that we came back for another lunch but this time accompanied by a Perelada Don Miguel ’04 (€20)
Reina de Port-Lligat
Mollet de Peralada Tel 972 545 188
Reina de Port-Lligat from the street
Reina de Port-Lligat restaurant
During our trip around the wineries we stopped off for lunch at Reina de Port-Lligat. Their branch in Roses had good ratings. This was much swisher than Cal Sagristà but we didn’t think that the food was as good. We had several plates to share (ranging from €20 to €35) and a Cami de Cormes (€29) from local winemaker Roig Parals.
Llançà Tel 972 38 01 32 www.restaurantmiramar.com
The attraction was that the chef used to be part of the el Buli team and they must be doing something right as between the date of booking and our meal they got their second Michelin star. We decided to go the whole hog and ordered the ‘Environment & (Con)sequences’ tasting menu (€140) which had an enormous number of bite-size dishes around the themes of Market Garden, The Sea and The Forest. A quite overwhelming array of tastes, some very good and some not so good. We were the only people in the restaurant that night which was a bit disconcerting. It seems that we were part of the experimentation for next year’s menu. One bite in particular we did not like and were asked for our views; when we said we didn’t like it we were told that the party at lunch didn’t like it either! To accompany all this we had a Pazo Senorans ’13 Albarino (€22), a Perelada Finca Malaveina ‘10 (€40) and a small glass of Sicus Meliterrani ’11, a sweet wine of which they were very proud.
Restaurant la cava d’en Sergi
Sant Sadurní d'Anoia tel 93 891 16 16 www.lacavadensergi.com
This restaurant is about 45 minutes from Barcelona airport and gets a Bib Gourmand in Guide Michelin so it makes a perfect venue for lunch before flying out. Having had piglet belly and foie gras successfully we just had to give it a try again accompanied by a half bottle of Reneé Barbier Robles. Not quite as good as Cal Sagristà but still very good.
Village of Garriguella in Empordá wine region
Celler Hugas De BatlleFrancesc Rivera, 28, 17496 Colera
Colera has very narrow one-way streets so by the time we eventually found their shop it was closed – well, best laid plans and all that; still the spectacular coastal drive from Llançà was well worth making (the picture at the top of this trip report).
Bodegas TrobatCastelló, 10 17780 - Garriguella Tel. + 34 972 53 00 92
Monday to Friday 8.00h - 13.00h & 15.00h - 19.00h
They had 4 cavas and a rosé but only one made solely from the traditional grapes Macabeu, Xarel.lo and Parellada (the others having chardonnay added); all were made using ‘method traditional’, that is, in the same way that champagne is made. The Gran Amat Brut Nature was excellent and for only €4 per bottle we were blown away – don’t know how they make a profit. Unfortunately no half bottles. They really like their cava cold – 4 to 6°. We then tried their flagship red, Noble Negre ‘11, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Garnatxa. It was full of fruit and again very good, and excellent value for money at €5.80.
Roig Parals8 17752 - Mollet de Peralada Tel. + 34 972 63 43 20
Strangely we could not locate the winery or the restaurant that they mention on their website but we did have a bottle of their ’08 Cami de Cormes in another restaurant in the village. This wine is made from 100% Samsó from very old vines. This was full of fruit and well rounded; even more surprising since it is made from a varietal better known for making wine lakes (Carignan).
Celler Marti FabraVic, 26 17751 - Sant Climent Sescebes Tel. + 34 972 56 30 11
This was a long shot because they are an appointment only place but we were going through the village anyway. We at least found them but they were not around.
Terra Remota17751 - Sant Climent Sescebes Tel. + 34 972 19 37 27
Monday to Friday 9 to 5
Terra Remota winery blending into the landscape
Terra Remota tasting room
Terra Remota make a white, rosé and several reds. We did not taste the white as it was sold out. The rosé was quite pleasant, simple, unoaked barbecue wine. The reds were interesting – all blends of Garnatxa (Grenache) and Syrah. The ’11 Camino also had some Cab and Tempranillo; good fruit and subtle oak (€15). The Clos Adrien ’10 was 90% Syrah and 10% Garnatx; grapes from organic vineyards, full of fruit but also serious tannins, the oak had not yet integrated (€40). We bought this for laying down. Their top of the range Usted cost €100 – big money for wine in that part of the world.
Vinyes d'Olivardots17750 Capmany +34 650395627
We didn’t manage to locate them either.
Castell de PereladaSant Joan, 917491 - Peralada Tel. + 34 972 53 80 11
Difficult to miss as they are in the centre of the town. We had drunk their cava quite a lot as it was on everyone’s wine list and often the only cava from the area and it was pretty good. They also produce half bottles of cava. We had also had several of their reds in restaurants. So we weren’t too upset when the police moved us on and we couldn’t find any parking within a reasonable distance to their tasting room. We thought that we had found our cava but despite several e-mails they never bothered to come back to us so we had to look elsewhere.
There are a lot more wineries in the area if you want to want to spend more time tasting – see a detailed list of wineries here
All in all quite a frustrating day – maybe we should break down and get a SatNav like everyone else as most places gave GPS co-ordinates on their contact pages. Still, between the wineries and the restaurants we knew that we could find cava that we liked so that when we came across a half bottle that met our standards we knew we would have a good one. And finally we did, the Juve Y Camps 2011 Cinta Purpura Reserva Cava see here
As it also turned out, the heart of cava country is a bit South of Barcelona in Sant Sadurní d'Anoia. This is where Juve Y Camps comes from and so did many of the good cavas we tasted in restaurants. But, they don’t do red wine and as we discovered, after 4 or 5 days of cava every day, we quickly became ‘cava-ed out’.