Raventos i Blanc

Pepe Raventos is the 21st generation of Raventos growing grapes in Penedes, a family with a long tradition as vine growers (since 1497) and as producers of bottle-fermented sparkling wines (since 1872). His grandfather left Codorniu because of disagreements in the management of the company, and in 1986 started his small project based on the fruit of his property, as he was the heredero (the heir of the family) of the original vineyard. As Pepe Raventos, who is now in charge of winemaking and the direction of the company, explained, the climate here (Mediterranean) is more apt for less intervention in the vineyards. Raventos is, of course, a very famous name in the Cava world, as it was Josep Raventos Fatjo who in 1872 produced the first sparkling wine in the region. A branch of the Raventos family still owns and runs Codorniu today. Pepe started working for the family winery in 2000, having studied agriculture in Madrid. In 2005, he studied with Didier Dagueneau and he also did internships with Hubert Lamy in Burgundy and in Nahe and Champagne with small producers. Since 2009, he has been working in what he calls bio-synergy, which can be considered a personal adaptation of biodynamics, paying very much attention at the interactions between soil, microclimate, plants, animals and men. They take care of plants and animals with homeopathic and organic treatments and use vegetal and animal compost from their own estate to enrich the soil. In October 2012, the company took another turn and left the Cava appellation to focus on producing wines from their 60-hectare vineyard in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia and trying to promote a new appellation, the Conca del Riu Anoia, on the banks of the Anoia river, where they are located within Penedes. He is the son of Manuel Raventos and is currently the winemaker. He moved to New York with his wife and four small children three years ago so the kids would learn good English, for him to get a better insight of the American wine market, and so he could manage the company from there. Today, they produce around 700,000 bottles of wine per year, mostly sparkling, which is now sold as a generic sparkling wine appellation. His idea of how the new appellation should work, and the way he’s already working, is using exclusively Mediterranean grapes, 80% of them estate grown. Wine producers can complement their own grapes by purchasing Mediterranean varieties grown by others in the region at a sustainable price, not at a going rate of 0.2 per kilo, and the wines should have at least 18 months of bottle aging in contact with the lees. Pepe is a young, determined man with clear ideas. The wines they call Enoteca Personal Manuel Raventos are to the Gran Reserva Personal Manuel Raventos what RD from Bollinger is to their Grande Annee – the same wine disgorged much later. They still have to sort out the labeling to really be able to see clearly if one bottle is Enoteca or Reserva Personal, but they are getting there. There are only a few hundred bottles of these wines, and I tasted through 1998 and 1999 as well as the 2000 and 2001 and it’s fascinating to see how the character of the vintage comes through in each bottle. Other than that, they have aged superbly in contact with the lees for such a long time and kept their Mediterranean character. LUIS GUTIERREZ