108/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Vilobi del Penedes – Cal Ruget BioHotel – Balma Reserva Brut Nature
… it’s a short trip from Barcelona, leave the hustle and bustle behind and visit this little gem, nestled amongst the vineyards of the Penedes region. Not far from Vilafranca del Penedes, heading east, you will find it easily and be greeted by a very charming couple by the names Florian Porsche & Verónica Grimal. It has been in operation for the past eight years and making quite a name for itself, being a oasis of calm and true hospitality. Sitting there in the sun with a glass of Cava, talking to the owners, is pure pleasure. Talking about Penedes and evolution of tourism of the region, is a total disconnect. The added bonuses are the recommendations of cellars to visit and being introduced by Florian or Verónica, helps a lot and the best possible tour of the winery is offered.
The Cava we enjoyed in the garden of the Cal Ruget is the choice for today and probably I won’t do it justice as it’s improbable to explain how it tastes in the spring sun of Penedes. What struck me the most, was Florians knowledge of the region and the willingness to share his favourite places, but I guess that’s one sure way to get people intrigued by the offers at hand.
You don’t come to discover a famous person, an artistic style or even a specific era when you come to Vilobi del Pedendes, a little village not far from the Mediterranean coast line. It is more a question of tuning in and experiencing deep feelings – a whole slice of human destiny: the unassuming rural living patterns of the inhabitants working the land and turning it into lovely vineyards. It feels like everywhere you turn you see them, covering the flat land like a majestic sea. At every cross road there are signs indicating that the next wine cellar is close by.
The house, built in the early SXX, has the structure of a typical rural building in the area, called farmhouse, with many details typical of this type of architecture. The property, which occupies an area of 10,000 m2, has its own vineyard, an organic garden and a large lawn area with pool and lots of corners designed so that you can relax and enjoy peace of mind. From the farm you have a great starting point to visit the region of Penedes.
Mini-trips and excursions on the roads between vineyards, discover the nature in the vicinity, visit the beaches of Vilanova and Sitges, or the cities of Barcelona and Tarragona, are just a few of the activites you can do on your own, or just relax and read a book in the garden, with a glass of Cava! History, culture and architecture await you through modernist route, the route of the Cistercian order, the shrine of Montserrat or contemporary history.
The hotel itself is a pioneering initiative, the first country-hotel of its type in Spain. As a Biohotel, their “raison d’etre” is maximum respect for the environment, sustainability and the cultivation and use of biological products. To enjoy Cal Ruget Biohotel is to satisfy the five senses, without haste and with time to observe the smaller details of life. They only use ecological and biodegradable products for cleaning and maintenance of the installations.
Suppliers come from within a radius of 100 km and are preferably bio certified. The use of electric energy, water and oil, is stressing energy conservation and recycling. Compost and waste is recycled. Around the hotel, all the vine and garden are cultivated by using organic methods, so when you are offered to go and pick your own tomato for breakfast, you know it is going to be tasty! If you like cooking, you will be invited into the kitchen for either a cooking class and/or helping out in preparing your won dinner. The practice is eco-gastronomy (slow food), always offering products in season, prepared with respect in order to conserve the best of their nutritional properties.
We were recommended to drive up to the Castell (Castle) above Sant Marti Sarroca and have lunch at the Cal Agusti but somehow we ended up at the Cal Recolons, which we don’t regret for a moment. A wonderful home cooked lunch was prepared and we left with our bellies pointing to the sky. A case of, have to try it all! This is half a days experience of the Penedes, without even having visited a cellar! I will however let you know about the Cava we had today, this is, after all, Catalan Wine 365! Once again, living the Sweet & Easy Lifestyle!
Balma Reserva Brut Nature, 40% Xarel.lo, 30% Macabeo, 30% Parellada
The Balma is a Cava produced by Mas Beltran, a winery located on the road leading from Cal Ruget to the village of Sant Marti Sarroca. Being a small producer the rage consists of two still wines, a rose and a white, both by the name Nutt. Additional lables are two Cavas, one of which is a Gran Reserva, 100% Xarel.lo from old vines and organic farming and the other being a 100% rose made from Sumoll.
The Balma, Reserva, has been aged for a minimum of 24 months and has a clear pale yellow colour and good release of steady bubbles. The nose is clean and intense, with notes of white stone and tropical fruits, and a hint of citrus, nuts and yeast. The palate is dry, cool and spacious, offering good acidity. The carbon is subtle, leaving honeyed citrus notes in the mouth but also featuring some fruit and dairy nuances.
273 to go!
Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle