Raventos i Blanc
17th February 2014
1. – History: of a family inextricably linked to their land: a winemaking tradition going back over 500 years.
The Raventós i Blanc estate, which has belonged to the Raventós family since 1497, covers 90 ha of vineyards, woodlands and a lake in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. It represents possibly the most longstanding winemaking enterprise in the hands of a single family in Spain.
From historical documents on Can Codorniu we know that in 1497 our ancestors grew grapes for their own consumption and to make grape juice.
In this line of succession, in 1872 Josep Raventós Fatjó made the first bottle-fermented wine in Spain using native wines from this estate.
When José María Raventós i Blanc and his son Manuel Raventós decided to found a winery at the heart of this historic estate, their intention was to find the purest possible way of uniting grape-growing and winemaking – the link between Nature and Man.
Raventós i Blanc was born to give meaning to this terroir, perpetuating a dynasty of Catalan farmers deeply rooted in an estate which, for more than 500 years, has not only worked the vineyards but also the woods: growing hay for the horses, maintaining grazing land, growing olives and producing wood for the wine crates.
2. – An estate with the perfect terroir for producing sparkling wines: soil, climate, vines and people.
The experience of 20 generations of grape-growers and recent research have enabled us to differentiate five different vineyards: La Plana, El Lago, Clos del Serral and Barbera for our sparkling wines, and an area of Serral for making still wines. Every vineyard is divided into plots, making a total of 46, each with a completely different identity from its neighbour.
The Raventós estate enjoys a typically inland Mediterranean climate of mild winters and hot, dry summers, whose temperature fluctuations are tempered thanks to the proximity of the sea. The Raventós i Blanc estate lies in a geographical depression between the coastal mountain range to the east, Montserrat to the north and the Serra d’en Compte mountains to the west, at the heart of the grape-growing region of Alt Penedès. The average temperature on the estate is 15 ºC and the mean annual rainfall is 550 l/m2. The estate’s microclimate is dictated by the Serral hills and its slopes as well as the lake and the wooded areas. The lake
and woodlands on the estate mitigate the temperatures, preventing heat waves and enabling us to benefit from a long, slow ripening process. For this reason, the northern slope of the Serral, bordered by woods at the top and the lake at the bottom, is where we obtain our finest grapes, as this is where they best retain their acidity for our sparkling wines with a longer ageing process.
The southern and south-eastern slopes of the Serral hill are home to the plots that receive the most sunlight and these grapes are mainly used for making still wines.
Studies conducted by Olivier Tregoat (an expert on Bordeaux soils) and Lluís Cabrera (professor of geology at the University of Barcelona) have shown that the soils on the Raventós i Blanc estates on the river terraces date back to the oldest period of the Penedès depression – 16 million years ago – and are home to a large number of marine fossils.
The main characteristic of the soils is the deep galera – layers of marine fossil sediments encrusted in the clay and loam with a calcareous base.
To make wines that would most faithfully express our terroir, we decided only to use native grape varieties.
As part of our venture to convert our estate from organic to biodynamic, Raventós i Blanc has embarked on a plan to root up foreign varieties – the Chardonnay vines in the La Plana area – and re-graft in our youngest plots with the aim of growing 100% native grape varieties.
At the moment we are concentrating on the varieties of Macabeo, Xarel·lo, Parellada and Monastrell.
The human factor:
At Raventós i Blanc we believe that the best fertilizer is the influence of the grape-grower, which is why the respect, attention and love we devote to our vines is the most important factor. Our goal is to ensure that our estate is treated with the utmost authenticity and tradition, placing an absolute priority on our soils, our climate and our native grape varieties.
At the moment, we have a herd of sheep grazing on the estate to replace part of the work of mowing with a tractor. The earth is fertilized with their manure and the offcuts of the vineyard’s plant cover, and a group of donkeys is responsible for clearing the Serral woods and the vineyards.
In the winery, the secret is forethought and cleanliness: not chemicals. The winery was designed to combine both functional and aesthetic aspects. The grapes are delivered rapidly with the minimum handling to preserve their primary aromas. Harvesting is done manually, with separate collection and vinification of each plot. The grapes enter the winery by gravity; we avoid the use of pumps. They are pressed gently, followed by static racking. Our cavas tend to have long ageing periods – at least four years – and they are clarified manually in racks and disgorged on demand.
3. – A winemaking philosophy that is both respectful and demanding: bio-synergies.
The farming concept: a biodynamic philosophy – with some misgivings: the most important thing is the stamp of the grape-grower.
The estate, which is completely organic and currently being converted to biodynamic, pursues the philosophy of bio-synergy: thus, Raventós i Blanc seeks to recover the long-lost past of life on a Penedès farm, ensuring that the land, the crops, the animals and humans work together in harmony as a single agricultural unit.
The agricultural practices we follow at Raventós i Blanc and our methods of working the land, including crop rotation and fertilizing strategies, generate a unique flora and fauna. The animals that live on the farm determine the fertility of the earth.
Finally, the decisions we take and the way we work the land are what endow our sparkling wines with their unique personality.
4. – Present and future: Conca del Riu Anoia.
Pepe Raventós, the twenty-first generation of the Raventós family, is convinced there is a gap in the market for honest single-estate wines that are the fruit of a specific climate, native grape varieties and a precise, exacting and respectful form of viticulture. His main task as a winemaker is to make an in-depth exploration and interpretation of the numerous slopes, orientations and altitudes of the land and the proximity of the woods, hedgerows and streams with a view to making sparkling wines that reflect this authenticity, seeking the utmost vitality, longevity and local expression in his wines.
On this journey, he decided in 2012 to leave the DO Cava in order to pursue the creation of a new DO, the Conca del Riu Anoia (see text on the Conca).
The commandments of Raventós i Blanc:
We aspire to produce well-aged sparkling wines from the Conca del Riu Anoia designation with grapes grown on the northern slopes of the Serral hills…
The farm in 1497: The past always counts, it is our history.
We live within nature and we making our living from nature: we see our mission as respecting, understanding and interpreting nature.
Our focus is local: soils, microclimate, native grape varieties and the family.
The secret of our winery is forethought and cleanliness, not chemicals.
The soul of a wine can only be expressed if it is made with love, and love is found in people’s hearts…
Shared by Susana Portabella
Glass of Bubbly
Executive editor of news content for the website Please enjoy the articles that we share - We hope you find our love for Champagne & Sparkling Wines both interesting and educational.