When the subject is wine the differences between the Old World and New World are huge. In the Old World many places have had vineyards and winemaking that dates back thousands of years. Traditions have developed and styles of wines are etched in historic time frames. Here in California the wine writer finds himself hearing about a winery built five years ago with vineyards planted on ground that was used previously for grazing cattle. And it is news when the offspring of a vintner decide to continue making wines under the same label. As often as not the next generation sells the winery and moves on.
So we were awed by both the wines presented and the four hundred and fifty year history of Codorniu-Raventos. The event was 'Courses in Cava', a showing of Anna de Codorniu sparkling wines, conducted by Aveniu Brands and held at the smart Ray's & Stark Restaurant. This located at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Codorniu-Raventos is the oldest family owned winery in Spain and the 17th oldest in the world. It was founded by Jaume de Codorniu in 1551 and is now operated by the 12th generation. The age of some of the Cava sparkling wines we tasted was remarkable in itself besides the superior quality of the wines.
Most of the Cava wines we tasted were under the Anna de Codorniu label. It honors the Anna who married Miquel Raventos in 1659 and created the Raventos family that has owned Codorniu ever since. We opened with Anna de Codorniu Blanc de Blancs, a blend of Chardonnay and three other local varietals, Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo. The vintage was 2007 and remarkable for its pleasing aroma, full flavors and lasting finish.
It was served with our first course of yellowtail crudo with kumquats and cucumber aguachile. Entree was chicken breast with English peas and spring salad. The wine Anna de Codorniu Brut Rose made with 70 per cent Pinot Noir and 30 per cent Chardonnay. With a dessert of passion fruit mousse with honey lavender ice cream our Cava was Anna de Codorniu Dulce, a sweeter wine at 11.5 per cent alcohol and blended with Chardonnay and the three local varietals.
The wines we tasted truly displayed the care made in their making. Finca La Pleta is made from chardonnay grown on a single vineyard which is considered to have the best terroir of the winery. Following fermentation it is aged for 90 months at a constant temperature thanks to the thick walls of Codorniu's original cellar.
The 2007 vintage we drank had a limited production of three hundred bottles.
Considered the best of the Ars Collecta collection of long aged Cava is 456, (the age of the winery). It is made from a selection of best vineyards of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Xarel-lo.
The vintage we tasted was 2007 with one hundred and twenty months in cellar and with total production at one thousand bottles. Each varietal was vinified separately and the final blend made just before bottling. All the wines we tasted that memorable day were ranged between and 11.5 and 12 per cent alcohol. The namesake Cava, Jaume Codorniu we tasted is a Brut Gran Reserva 2011 vintage and a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Xarel-lo.
Representing Aveniu Brands was Oriol Gabarro, marketing director, while well known local wine instructor Matthew Kaner described the origins and pairing of the Codorniu Cava wines, all with much aging and the quality that has given these wines a world wide reputation.
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