Many of our clients will know that I am a fan of great Champagne; hopefully if I have been doing my job properly, I haven’t made a secret of it! You may not have known that I am a fan of Cava…actually, I am not – well, I wasn’t, but then I started tasting some of the wines of Recaredo…and to say I have been converted would be an understatement.
Recaredo has been crafting wines at San Sadurní de Noya in Alt Penedès, some 50km due west of Barcelona, for near on a century, in fact ever since Josep Mata Capellades started winemaking in 1924. Today, his legacy is the Recaredo estate, named after his father, which today comprises a patchwork of some 65 hectares of hillside vineyards along Bitlles river. This spectacular landscape, dominated by the Montserrat mountain, gives rise to naturally low-yielding, calcareous soils, well-suited to fruit for sparkling wine production. Recaredo is run biodynamically with production kept remarkably traditional, artisanal, and unhurried, so no pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilisers are used here; everything is natural, everything is done by hand. They were the first estate in Penedes to be certified biodynamic back in 2010, so while tradition is the watchword here, it is not without progression.
The reputation of this estate is inextricably linked to patience – each of their wines spends a minimum of two and half years ageing on its lees in bottle in their cellars, far and above the minimum stipulation for Cava or Champagne for that matter. Some of their wines spend a whopping 30 years in their cellars. Interestingly, this focus on extended ageing echoes the approach championed most successfully by the winemaker who I consider one of the most talented in Champagne, namely Francis Egly of Egly-Ouriet. That is not to hint at any imitation; Recaredo developed their style of long-aged wines as early as 1944.
The key variety here is Xarel-lo (pronounced charel-low) which accounts for over half of their vineyard plantings. I have been fascinated by this variety and have recently started tasting some impressive still wines from it in order to understand more of its character and attributes. This indigenous Mediterranean variety brings good acidity and structure to the blend and in my experience, a mineral-infused citrus-natured fruit with slightly smoky notes. Its blending partner, Macabeu can offer a more floral-natured fruit, with slightly more honeyed, juicy characters. The issue with both varieties is that pinning down varietal flavour profiles is tricky as often yields are too high to deliver the necessary concentration in still or sparkling wines. Fortunately, this isn’t always the case. Recaredo, for example, produce at substantially less than half the permitted yield for Cava!
This all brings me to the wine in question, which is made in limited quantities (just 5000 bottles), aged for over 10 years on its lees in bottle and was first produced in 1962. It is made with fruit from their oldest Xarel-lo and Macabeu vines and is a Brut Nature, so it is a naturally dry style, with no dosage. And simply put, it is staggeringly good…I opened the wine, and served in wide based flutes; after a few moments it opened up tremendously to reveal a wonderfully complex character. I loved the brightness of the fruit, the fine concentration and subtle mousse – notes of freshly baked pastry, something floral and a certain juicy quality that might seem out of place in champagne. There is such a fine sense of precision and purity to this wine, something common to the very finest sparkling wines. Nothing is out of place; this is a world-class sparkling wine without a shadow of a doubt. And I can’t wait to learn more about this estate, and eventually to taste their 100% Xarel-lo, the Turó d’en Mota.
I should add that, while I refer to the wines as Cava above, in 2019, nine producers (of which Recaredo is one) left the Cava DO and will now produce their wines with Corpinnat shown on the label. The reason for the split, after ongoing wrangling with the authorities, is that these producers wanted a tighter delimitation on wines produced in Penedès, rather than the much wider designation of the Cava district. The nine producers want to focus on higher quality production, terroir driven wines and indigenous varieties and thereby limiting use of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. When given an ultimatum by the authorities to stop promoting themselves as a subset, they broke away from the DO and continued to promote Corpinnat and were recognised legally by the EU. In time it is likely that they will be brought back into the fold with a separate appellation…
2008 Recaredo, Reserve Particular
96 points, Luis Gutierrez, robertparker.com
£330 per 6 bottle case in bond
I was really blown away by the 2008 Reserva Particular, without a doubt one of the finest vintages for this bottling. It combines incredible aromas (truffle, white flowers, bakery, flour, royal jelly, brioche) with great freshness and an explosive palate that has pungent flavors and intense minerality and is light but with great density and a super long finish. The wine matured for over ten years with the lees in the bottle yet is fresh and feels very young. Astonishingly good! The bottle I tasted was disgorged for me, as the wine is still aging and will come into the market at the end of 2019 or early 2020. There are some 5,000 bottles of this elixir. Drink : 2019-2032.
Unsurprisingly stock is limited but this was too good not to draw to your attention.
Please let us know of your interest.
All the best,