Up early, quick breakfast and shower before the we went back to Vilarnau to look more carefully at how the automated harvest is done, because now it was time for Parellada. The machines are extremely efficient and shakes the grapes that are collected in large containers on the harvester's roof. The machine has legs on either side of the rows. Two bands within the legs of the machine shakes the grapes quickly but gently so that the grapes come off. What remains is the stem of the grape that is completely intact. The stem then dries up and then falls off during the autumn.
When the harvester is full, it goes to a waiting tractor with trailer and empties it's harvest. After which the tractor can go to the press, which in this case is located fifty meters from the vineyard.
At Vilarnau they cool the grapes to about fifteen degrees in a special cooling system before they press them. This is to preserve the aromas and acidity in the best way and to prevent oxidation.
After the quick visit in the morning, we went to Codorniu, which is the second largest cava producers in Spain with its production of about 40 mil bottles a year.
Codornius basement is incredibly long and the oldest parts are crooked and over a hundred years old.
What is fascinating about Codorniu is that they do not have modern automated gyro-palettes despite their great production, but instead they have a kind of old-fashioned full manual swings, which does the task of getting the yeast collected on the cork. Codornius winemaker Bruno Colmar Marti met up with us after the tour, for a tasting in the old house of the famliy Raventós. The family has a great interest in art and on the walls hang a lot of the paintings that were Codornius early marketing.
It's always very exciting to hear the wine makers thoughts about their products and what work that is behind the compositions. Bruno is an incredibly nice and kind man, who when I told him about my upcoming adventure on Saturday with the Stockholm Half Marathon, told me that he had run the Chicago marathon last year and cried of joy when he reached the finish line. Although his experiences of running in Stockholm during a visit to Sweden during the winter, had not been as enjoyable. But this rather because it was so cold and he only had brought shorts and t-shirt with him. That's what I wear at home when I run, he said cheerfully.
We thanked him so much for the visit and promised to come back soon.
Our second visit for the day was Pares Balta. Here we met Barbara who took us up to the highest lying vineyards at 750 meters above sea level Here the grow pinot noir, chardonnay, Parellada and Grenache, which all has a different flavor concentration than those growing in the valley. The vineyards on the mountain are small and follow each other in irregular terraces as the hight increases. Barbara told us that on the top of the mountain live the odd Russian millionaire who tried to buy a nearby vineyard, belonging Pares Balta, to make room for a guest parking, but without luck.
Back in the cellars and offices, we tried the caves of the house. Mild and balanced with a very soft mousse throughout the portfolio. However, we left with their Rosé (not shown) and their Cuvée de Carol (far left) which had left an extra imprint, guaranteeing them a place in our suitcase home.
The house also have still wines that are of a very high quality. Their wines from Priorat, for example, was just amazing for only 20 Euro.
Well worth a visit if you ever are in the region!