By the Glass

By the Glass: Grower cava reflects heritage from grape to glass

Ellen Bhang for The Boston Globe

If past experience has led you to put cava in the “cheerful but unremarkable” category of sparkling wine, three meticulously crafted bottles will update your notions about what the dry Spanish bubbly can be. These sparklers, made in the Champagne method from macabeo, xarel-lo, and parellada grapes, are the products of winegrowing families with longstanding roots in Penedès, Catalonia.

In the late 19th century, after the vine pest phylloxera wreaked havoc on the region’s wine economy, the Esteve family rebuilt their livelihood from the ground up. In Avinyonet del Penedès, an hour’s drive west of Barcelona, they replanted on new rootstocks, and expanded acreage. Today, the current generation makes a line of sparklers under the name Avinyó. The four siblings at the helm work organically, farming estate-owned vineyards to make grower cava.

When you learn that Celler Mas Candí was launched in 2006, you might assume that the people behind it are new to cava. But Ramón Jané’s family has cultivated grapes for 500 years, selling the fruit to large cava producers. Jané, together with his wife, Mercé Cuscó, and enologist friend Toni Carbó, are committed to farming their vineyards biodynamically, limiting production to ensure quality over quantity.


The viticultural lineage of the Raventós family reaches back hundreds of years — to 1497 to be exact — but they are not afraid to evolve. In 2012, the 21st generation decided to leave the cava DO (denominacion de origen) to create a more stringently defined geographic appellation. They named it Conca del Riu Anoia, after the river valley where the organically farmed, single estate is situated. Results in the glass are beguiling, expressing a refined mineral profile.

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Kick off the new year with a resolution to drink soulful wines that reflect deep heritage. This effervescent trio will get you started.

Avinyó Brut Reserva Cava 2014 Exuberant on the nose and palate, this brightly tart bubbly offers juicy lemon, ripe apple, and an attractive salty tang. Around $23. At The Wine Press, Brookline, 617-277-7020; The Spirited Gourmet, Belmont, 617-489-9463.

Celler Mas Candí Brut Nature Cava 2014 Bread yeast aromas combine with white flowers and baked apples, leading to a gastronomic palate that’s anchored by appetizing salinity and uplifted by soft frothiness. Around $25. At Social Wines, South Boston, 617-268-2974; Downtown Wine & Spirits, Somerville, 617-625-7777.

Raventós i Blanc “De Nit” Conca del Riu Anoia 2014 The pink label on this bottle might lead you to think of rosé, but the wine itself is platinum in hue, with a coppery tinge from the addition of monastrell grapes. Scents akin to water rushing over river stones, plus subtle tree fruit, greet the nose, followed by a minerally palate that’s soft and refined. Around $30. At The Spirited Gourmet; Blanchards Wines & Spirits, Jamaica Plain, 617-522-9300.

Ellen Bhang can be reached at