About a month ago, just before Christmas 2016, I had the privilege of being invited by an historic family of Catalan winemakers and producers of some of the finest bubbles in Spain: the Raventos i Blanc family.
Not only did I discover warm and welcoming people and their history, but I discovered a genuinely unique terroir and the passion from a family to express their heritage through their wines, using biodynamic viticulture and respectful winemaking.
Located in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, right in the heart of the historic production center of Catalan Cava, the Raventos I Blanc estate covers 90 hectares in total (220 acres) and is composed of woodland and about 50 ha of vineyards.
My visit allowed to meet with Pepé and Manuel Raventos, discover their history, their terroir and vineyards, and taste a few of their wines.
Wine Trip to Raventós I Blanc Winery in Video
A Family with a Unique Wine History
The Raventós i Blanc estate has belonged to the Raventós family since 1497, and has been passed on intact from generation to generation up to the present days.
The name Raventós is related to Codorniu family, the famous Cava sparkling wine producer, since Marie Anna Codorniu married Miguel Raventós in 1681.
Nearly two centuries later in 1872 Josep Maria Raventós was credited for elaborating the world’s first Cava sparkling wine from Catalonia, with the very grapes grown on the Raventós i Blanc estate.
During the 20th Century, Codorniu became what we know today, one of the most important sparkling wine producer in Spain, and in Europe really.
A member of the Raventos family, Josep Raventós Blanc, grandfather of current manager Pepé, not only was the head of the Codorniu S.A. empire up to 1982, but was also the creator of the Cava denomination and president of its regulatory council, as well as mayor of Sant Sadurní town.
Inspite of his successes, Josep was not satisfied with the large-scale wine production entity Codorniu had become. In 1984, he decided with his son Manuel to sell his shares in Codorniu but to keep the historic Raventos I Blanc estate, and to start his own fine wine brand.
Sadly, just twenty days after the creation of the independent brand, Josep Raventós Blanc died from a heart attack while fishing during a trip to New Zealand.
Following a local rule of inheritance where the eldest son receives most of the succession, Manuel Raventos i Negra inherited the estate and his father’s dream of making a prestige sparkling wine under the Raventos I Blanc label.
Since 2009, Pepé Raventos has been working alongside his father and now carries along as the main winery’s manager his family’s dream of making some of the finest bubbles in Catalonia.
Leaving the Cava Appellation to Create a New DO
In 1888, Manuel Raventós Doménech created a sparkling wine in Penedés with three native varieties: Xarel-lo, Macabeu, and Parellada.
When the Raventos created the Cava appellation in 1872, they dreamed of a World-Class sparkling wine preserving the typicity of the unique terroir found on the family estate.
But in fact, Spanish Cava wine can now be made from grapes coming from virtually anywhere in Spain.
After 150 years, the Raventos family concluded that Cava had become a volume-oriented DO lacking geographical distinction that suffered from low viticultural standards.
For this reason, in November 2012 the Raventos I Blanc brand decided to leave the Cava D.O.
They have since started a campaign that they hope will lead to the creation of a new appellation called Conca del Riu Anoia as a reference to the unique terroir found around the banks of the Anoia river, river that crosses their estate.
Stunning Vineyards on Limestone Soils
As I discovered, the soils on the Raventos I Blanc estate and more generally along the Riu d’Anoia are composed of limestone filled with marine fossils.
As we know, limestone soils around the world are the most favorable to the production of fine and refined sparkling wines.
Clearly these soils here, combined with the biodynamic viticulture, give Raventos I Blanc wines elegance, a distinctive minerality, and even sometimes a subtle salinity. Find out more about what the wines taste like with the wine reviews and tasting notes: see links to articles further below.
To reveal the authentic expression of its distinctive terroir, Raventos I Blanc has adopted the principles of biodynamics to manage its vineyards.
Some vineyards are only worked with animals, while life is allowed to develop again in the soils of the whole estate using only organic fertilizers.
The design of the winery building is the work of the architects Jaume Bach and Gabriel Mora (winner of the FAD architecture award in 1989).
It aimed at being perfectly integrated in the local landscape using bricks as the main construction material.
It was also designed around the 500-year-old oak tree that had witnessed the multi-generational dedication of the family to growing vines and making wine.
Unfortunately, as I visited the winery, the old oak tree had passed away, perhaps tired of the effect of the recent global warming, and most certainly taken by last summer’s drought.
Find out more about Raventos i Blanc wines, how they taste and complete ratings with Social Vignerons reviews below:
Find out more about the winery at Raventos i Blanc Winery Profile: