2014 was the first year when the still wines from Gramona were certified by Demeter and when they started using their Coquard press. It was not an easy year, one with plenty of rains and maladies, which resulted in a crop that was 15% smaller than the average at Gramona. Their classical 2014 Brut Imperial is a blend of 40% each Xarello and Macabeo with 15% Chardonnay and 5% Parellada that aged sur lie for 51 months in bottle and was adjusted with six grams of sugar to make it a balanced and approachable sparkling.
This is one of the flagship wines from Gramona, with a style that is marked by the old wine added in the expedition liqueur, which gives a specific profile that's nutty and has aromas that always make me think of an older wine. They have been moderating the use of this wine, and the touch is subtler, as what they have been using is an infusion of almond peel in this old wine. They never used this expedition wine for III Lustros or Celler Batlle, because they thought the long aging provided enough complexity.
However, Imperial has been getting fresher and fresher every year. This is still aged in bottle with a crown stopper, but the magnums keep under cork and all the following wines are aged under cork. There is great freshness, which makes the wine vibrant and tasty, and it has a balanced finish and integrated, small bubbles that provide a creamy texture. And the sugar is almost imperceptible, just adding balance for the acidity.
The percentage of Chardonnay will be lower in following years to comply with the Corpinnat requirements. 2014 has to be one of the finest vintages for Imperial. All of the bottles display the disgorgement date and the number of months the wine matured with the lees in bottle. Some 350,000 bottles produced.
Drink 2019 - 2023
Luis Gutiérrez, Wine Advocate (August 2019)
About this WINE
Gramona are acknowledged, in Spain and beyond, to be the the finest of all Cava Houses (voted among the Top of 100 Wineries of 2010 in the Wines & Spirits magazine).
Fine Cava, I hear you say, is that not something of an oxymoron? Can they really make fine sparkling wine in Catalonia, when the Champenois have for centuries insisted that the climatic conditions at 49 degrees of latitude are essential for that gentle pirouette of tension between acidity, sugar and fruit which is necessary for the creation of the very finest of sparkling wines.
In addition, Cava, from the seventies onwards, has grown on an industrial scale, neglecting, in the quest for volume, those finer artisanal features which underwrite all of the world’s best wines. Gramona is an extremely honourable exception to this flight from quality and Jaume and Xavier Gramona, from the fifth generation of a family which was created in 1881, are extraordinarily competent winemakers and very fine ambassadors.
Ambassadors who are both trained in oenology and passionate about their wines and about redefining the reputation of the Cava category. To this end, they take advantage of the best Penèdes locations, specifically La Plana and the steep slopes of Mas Escorpi, and an approach to winemaking which centres on extensive ageing and low levels of sugar.
Indeed the wines are aged in the Champagne method, that is to say in bottle on the yeast that has allowed the second fermentation and for a period of between 18 months and ten years. Only the very best Vintage Champagnes benefit form this kind of regime, and it should be no surprise, therefore, that the Gramona wines can take on qualities more usually associated with the most regal of their Champenois cousins.
For those who associate Cava with earthy, almost rubbery flavours, the legacy of mass-market mediocrity, this will come as something of a surprise. Instead the wines are astonishingly complex and take on nutty biscuity and autolytic notes, with exceptional balancing acidity and low levels of added sugar in the name of structural harmony.
The Gramonas have not achieved this by evading their heritage; on the contrary, it is an alchemical manipulation of the historical grapes (Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada) added to a little Chardonnay, that has forged a distinctive style. These are great wines and a source of as well as for great celebration as they broaden the quality sparkling wine category, fuelling it with interest and diversity
Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo are the dominant grapes used in the production of the Spanish sparkling wine Cava. Other grapes that are allowed in the blend are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Garnacha, Monastrell and Subirat (loosely related to Malvasia). Single varietal cavas tend to be made by 100% Macabeo (which is also the preferred grape for Cava, typically forming at least 50% in multi-varietal blends).
Cava can be white or rosé, the latter is produced by adding in still red wine sourced from Pinot Noir, Garnacha, Monastrell or Trepat into the fermented sparkling wine prior to bottling.
Over 95% of Cava production originates from in the Penedès area in Catalonia. Aside this, a further eight different regions throughout Spain are also producing small quantities of Cava. The village of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia is home to many of Spain's largest production houses , led by Codorniu and Freixenet.
Bodegas Gramona are acknowledged, in Spain and beyond, to be the the finest of all Cava Houses (it has recently been voted among the Top of 100 Wineries of 2010 in the Wines & Spirits Magazine. The essence of their winemaking approach centres on extensive ageing and low levels of sugar, just like many finest Champagnes.
Only wines produced in the traditional method (méthode champenoise) are awarded the DO (Denomination Origin) Cava, those produced by other processes such as tank fermentation, may only be labelled vinos espumosos (sparkling wines).
Xarello, also knowm as Xarel-lo, is a white wine grape that forms the backbone of the Cava Spanish sparkling wine, being one of the three traditional grapes used in its production.
The other two grapes are the Catalan indigenous variety Parellada, and Macabeo which is better known as Viura, the main white grape of Rioja.
Xarel-lo contributes intense aromas in the blend which many believe underpins Cava's unique character. A handful of producers has experimented with making small quantity of still wines from Xarel-lo which are generally being met with good reviews.
Xarello is also known as Cartuja, Cartuxa, Moll, Pansa, Pansa Blanca, Pansal and Xarelo Blanco.