I have flagged up some outstanding sparkling wines from Recaredo before, and am now pleased to offer their 2016 Serral del Vell at £185 per 6 bottle case In bond. It is in stock and available for immediate despatch.
To recap, this outstanding estate is based in Corpinnat, which was previously a small zone within Cava in Penedes, but as the production area for Cava is so vast and the name has become debased, a group of nine producers (of which Recaredo is one) left the Cava DO in 2019 and will now produce their wines with Corpinnat shown on the label. These 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. Leaving wranglings about designations and appellations aside, it is easy to understand why Recaredo took this step given the quality of the wines they produce is a world away from what you are likely to associate with Cava, and I mean a world away. As previously commented, if the following background does not add up to a quality-conscious producer, I am not sure what does.
Recaredo has been crafting wines at Sant Sadurní d’Anoia 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, and today comprises a patchwork of some 65 hectares of hillside vineyards along the river Bitlles. This spectacular landscape, dominated by the Montserrat mountain, is blessed with calcareous soils, well-suited to fruit for sparkling wine production and to vines that are naturally low-yielding. 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 Penedès 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, but belief in the benefit of ageing on the lees for extended periods is common to both producers.
Recaredo produce a varied and fascinating range of wines, but the grape variety that dominates in those that have grabbed my attention most is Xarel-lo (pronounced charel-low) which accounts for over half of their vineyard plantings. I have been fascinated by this variety for some time as it seems to perform a similar role to Pinot Noir in Champagne. This indigenous Mediterranean variety brings good acidity and structure to the blend and, in my experience, a mineral-infused orchard fruit with slightly smoky notes. Often it is blended with Macabeu, which can offer a more floral-natured fruit, with slightly more honeyed, juicy stone fruit characters, but that said, my preference is for those wines dominated by Xarel-lo or entirely devoted to the variety. The single vineyard Serral del Vell is one such wine, made from 75% Xarel-lo and 25% Macabeu, from a vineyard which is rich in limestone. ‘Serral’ means plateau and this beautiful vineyard stands on a small plateau in the Bitlles Valley Highlands.
As with all the Recaredo wines, they are subject to low yields, invariably small production and treated to long-ageing before release. They are truly distinctive wines.
Please see my full note below.