1 Casa Canals & Nubiola: S.Esteve de Sasroviras
Vendimiando. Barcelona,Sanz (Ap..1913)
There are many winegrowing regions that produce friendly, down-to-earth, local wines. Nevertheless, only a few privileged areas are able to create "great internacional wines"- wines which have a personality of their own, a notable character, and an unmistakable style that distinguishes them in markets the world over.
Such is the case of the great wines of the Penedès which, resurrecting the thousand-year old wine-making tradition of the Mediterranean, are currently to be found in most internacional markets and on the menus of the best restaurants of the five continents.
Clearly, Mediterranean cuIture has greatly influenced the winemaking tradition in the Penedès, passed down through generations, from father to son. But this tradition, rooted in the soil and the people, has been safeguarded by an unwavering dedication to quality and progress, reform and skill.
Throughout the generations -since the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans succesfully replanted the first noble grapes of the Mediterranean in this area- the wine-making heritage of the Penedès has become ever richer. As far back as antiquity, the sublime tradicional varieties of the classical world (garnacha, monastrell, muscatel, malmsey) were grown- but, more recently, our region was the first national varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Riesling, etc).
Thus, it is true to say that the current weaIth of the wine-growing area of the Penedès -from native varieties to the very best internacional grapes- is unrivalied by any other European region.
Furthermore, the range of wine offered by the Penedès (fresh and mature whites, rosés, young and great vintage reds, pétillant wines, elegant cavas, fortified and sweet wines) is probably the most extensive, varied and complete in the world, let alone the renowned brandies that are produced in the area.
Tradition, progress, variety and quality are the Keys to the internacional prestige of the Penedès. it is worth touring this wine-growing region and discovering its delights- brethtaking, calm landscapes of gentle Catalonia, beautiful historic sites and monuments, manicured vineyards, and a surprisingly futuristic picture of the most advanced oenological techniques.
The Penedès region is a natural museum reflecting a thousand-year-old cuIture. And its wines are our works of art. Because The turbulent history of the Mediterranean taught us to put our name to nothing but the very best.
The historical region of the Penedès streches from the shining Mediterranean coast to the cool heights of the precoastal Catalonian mountainrange. It covers an area of slightiy more than one thousand square Kilometres and has a population of some 165,000 inhabitants, of which 65% is concentrated in the main towns- Vilafranca del Penedès, Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltrú, Martorell, El Vendrell, and Sant Sadurní d'Anoia.
The Cuisine of the Penedès
Variety has always been a distinguishing factor of the Penedès: the only Spanish region where, in no time at all, one climbs from sea-level to an aItitude of 800 metres; from the sturdy Roman arch of Berá to the bare, spiritual Romanesque arch of Sant Martí Sarroca; from the cloisters of Santes Creus -stone and water in tranquil harmony- to the majestic Gothic quarter of Vilafranca; from the lofty fortress of Castellet to the peaceful homesteads where the lace of l'Arboç is made; from the liberal wisdom of Manuel Milá i Fontanals to the Mediterranean passion of Eugeni d'Ors and Angel Guimerá- from the myths and legends of the Pont del Diable to the classic serenity of Pau Casals cello; from the lively marinas of Vilanova to the golden beaches of El Vendrell- and the Modernism of Sitges -elegant, bright, with its neat court-yards fanned by the lazily swaying palm-trees- to the woods of Pontons and La Llacuna where wild-boards seek out ripe grapes, before they can be turned into floral, honeyed wine.
Wines always resemble the land they come from. And Penedès wine is open and communicative, fragant and lively, vibrant and fruity; but, above all, well-stuctured and classical, as befits a land where Latin was spoken even before the existence of the universities of the Sorbonne, Montpellier or Salamanca.
In the Penedès, as in all the great wine-producing areas of the world, the landscape changes in an instant: in the same way as the wines change depending on the nature of the soil, the planting pattern, the lay of the land and the incline of the slope, or the variety of the grape.
From afar, viewed from the heights of Sant Martí Sarroca, from the lonely hermitage of Foix or from the wild mountains of La Llacuna, the Penedès region looks like a Franciscan garden, watered by small rivulets (the Anoia, the Gaiá, the Foix) and crisscrossed by narrow paths that always lead to the sea. But, when observed from close to, the landscape is restless and undulating, bearing fruit and vines, hazeinuts and olives, configured by ridges and valleys, ravines, hills and narrow enclosed athways.
On one side, bustling vineyards and wineproducing estates; on the other, lace-work from the sea; and, from afar, dominating it all, Montserrat, "Miracle of Catalonia", Maragall called it. Its flinty walls rise up like the turrets and battlements of a castle, or towers made by the ancient giants who invented the courageous game of "castellers". Because in catalonia, dances and games always from a circle of joined hands. The "sardana" dance is a rose. The "castell" of traditional Penedès folklore, a bunch of grapes.
Variety also symbolises Penedès cuisine: from the most delicious fish recipes to the more hearty dishes from inland.
The mouth-watering range of dishes that the Penedès offers is well-represented on the menus and wine-lists of the excellent restaurants that travellers can find throughout the region.
The most typical dish of the coast is "xató" : a sauce of almonds, peppers ("nyores"), oil and garlic that accompanies a salad of cod, tuna, anchovies and olives. But there are many other dishes which deserve a place on any table: "ranxos de peix" (assorted fish 'ranch style'), omelette with "botifarra i mongetes" (sausage and beans), rice with sardines, "bull de tonyina" (dry, salted tuna), "arrosejat" (rice with fish-stock), stuffed angler-fish, cod with raisins and pine-nuts, stew of sea-bass and mushrooms, hake with local, wild "rossinyol" mushrooms, and a weaIth of other fish dishes that cry out to be accompanied by the cavas and white wines of the Penedès; not forgetting the unexpected affinity of young reds -served cool- with the tradicional "xató" (as long as the chef can prepare it with delicacy, Vilanova-style, without overdoing the garlic).
During the Autumn months, coinciding with the final stages of the harvest, the heavenly wild mushrooms from the woods of the Upper Penedès make their appearance ("rovellons", "pinetells", "llenegalls", "llores", "fredolics", "carlets", "orellenes", "llémenes", and "rossinyols") which go so well with all types of wine- the delicate notes of mature Chardonnay, the fresh contrast of cava, the sensual perfume of young red wine, the intense palate of tradicional reds, or the majestic accompaniment of the aristocratic tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon vintages.
The fresh and fruity rosé wines produced in the Penedès,"bufats" from El Vendrell, "coques cremades" from l'Arboç, coques" and "catánies" from Vilafranca, "rolls de Pasqua" from Banyeres) also meet their perfect match in the honeyed malmseys, muscatels and sweet wines of the area.
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