Raventós i Blanc | Cataluña

Pepe Raventós tending his vineyards with horse-drawn cultivator

Raventós i Blanc is owned by one of Spain’s most historic winemaking families with a viticultural tradition dating back to 1497. They have been at the forefront of Cava production since Josep Raventós Fatjó produced Spain’s first traditional method sparkling wine in 1872 from Xarel-lo grown on their estate. His descendant, Josep Maria Raventós i Blanc, is celebrated as one of the most influential figures in Spanish wine.

Following the Spanish Civil War and years of dictatorship, Josep Maria worked tirelessly to grow the family-owned Codorníu and promote the region’s high quality sparkling wines. He eventually helped to establish Cava as a Denominación de Origen. In 1986, the energetic Josep Maria decided to sell his share of Codorníu to set up a new, quality-focused project using the family’s original vineyards around Sant Sadurní d’Anoia.

Today, Raventós i Blanc is run by Pepe Raventós, who seems to have inherited his grandfather’s spirited vision and incessant quest for quality. He spent years learning his trade at various blue-chip estates around the world: Hubert Lamy in Burgundy, Gaston Chiquet in Champagne and Didier Dagueneau in Pouilly-Fumé. Realising that Raventós i Blanc should aim to “convey our viticultural traditions, the strength of our land and the characteristics of our soils,” Pepe took the decision to leave the Cava DO in 2012, in order to focus on the estate’s more distinctive Conca del Riu Anoia region.

Raventós i Blanc’s 50 hectares of vines are located among picturesque woodland in the Conca del Riu Anoia in Alt Penedès. The farm comprises another 40 hectares of crops, including cereals, olives, almonds and figs,as well as a flock of sheep and goats, free-range chickens and a local breed of pig. Thanks to Pepe’s dedication to the land and traditional Catalan farming practices, horse ploughing is now back in use, while he has created a diverse habitat for birds and wildlife. “I believe that to express origin, you really need to bring a lot of life into your farm,” he says. Biodynamic principles are adhered to, using manure from the farm animals as the base for his compost.

The climate here is Mediterranean, characterised by mild winters and warm, dry summers. The estate, whose limestone soils are replete with marine fossils, is surrounded by three mountain ranges: Sierra Litoral in the east, Montserrat in the north and Sierra d'en Compte in the west. Sierra Litoral acts as a rain shadow from the wetter coastal areas, while Montserrat and Sierra d'en Compte provide wind breaks and cooling temperatures from the Pyrenees. The vineyards are divided into 44 plots, depending on the different soils and microclimates,within seven larger areas:Clos del Serra, La Vinya Més Alta, Costers del Serral-Vinya dels Fòssils, Les Barberes-Oliveres, El Llac, La Plana and Travesseres-Gran.

Raventós i Blanc’s wines are always vintage-dated and made from 100% indigenous varieties grown in their vineyards in the Anoia valley. The wines undergo a minimum of 18 months ageing on lees in stainless steel tanks. Their Blanc de Blancs is a traditional blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada, aged for 18 months. It is a gentle, citrus and mineral-inflected wine with soft Mediterranean herbs, superb freshness and a persistent finish. De Nit blends the local white grapes with Monastrell, resulting in a lovely pale sparkling rosé. Both wines are Extra Brut in style and come from the estate’s youngest vines grown on clay-loam soils. De la Finca is a limited production from the Vinya dels Fòssils site. This zero dosage wine benefits from 36 months on lees to create a complex, saline wine with delicate lemon and fennel accents. Textures de Pedra is a blanc de noirs from the Vinya Més Alta, the estate’s highest site located on distinctive stony soils. It is a blend of the pale-skinned Xarel-lo-Vermell with Sumoll and Bastard Negre and spends 48 months on lees. This is a very fine sparkling wine, whose zero dosage enables its detailed character to shine through, revealing an intense, layered palate of fig, walnut and acacia honey. It is a superb expression of the Conca del Riu Anoia.

It is clear that, with Pepe at the helm, Raventós i Blanc is not only striving to make the best traditional method sparkling wines in Spain. Pepe’s ebullient nature and fierce ambition mean that Raventós i Blanc is forging a new path for the region, determined to compete with the best sparkling wines in the world. That they are able to do this is thanks, in part, to the Raventós family’s distinctive site, dedication to quality, and to the legacy of their ancestors.