This past week I was in Barcelona to attend Alimentaria 2016's Press Conference. Alimentaria is one of Europe's leading food and beverage industry events, an exhibition of all things culinary. While showcasing the latest global trends in food and beverage, Alimentaria also sets a stage for industry professionals to address difficulties facing the culinary world and discuss solutions.
The first day was a very traditional press conference, with a lot of talk about the business side of the industry that I don't work in, like importing and exporting. On the second day, we went to visit the Juvé y Camps vineyards in San Sadurní d’Anoia. Seeing as I am not Art Vandelay, let's cut to the good stuff: CAVA.
Acceptable at all hours of the day and offered at all meals, it is as common to drink Cava as it is to drink coffee in Barcelona. While noticing all the Cava that was being drank, I also noticed that one Cava was omnipresent.
Whether it was a kitchen full of Michelin starred chefs or a hole in the wall pickled tapas bar, there was Juvé y Camps. This had me very skeptical. If something is everywhere in the states, that usually means it's trouble. Flavor devoid, environmentally evil and morally bankrupt trouble.
As it turns out, Juvé y Camps is none of those things.
Juvé y Camps was founded in 1796 by husband and wife team Joan Juvé Baqués and Teresa Camps Farré, and has been an entirely family owned and operated joint ever since. But what really blew me away was that this family enterprise is making over a million bottles of Cava a year, all organically.
There is such a fuss about organic products here in the US, with many companies, producers and dinner table know-it-alls saying it's financially impossible for large scale products to be organic. But I believe that Juvé y Camps proves that wrong. These are the most prevalent Cavas in the market (that I have personally experienced), that are made in the not cheap methode traditionnelle just like Champagne, and the price per bottle is still under $20. AND ALL ORGANIC. THEY KEEP MOTHS FROM BREEDING ON THEIR GRAPES BY TYING THESE WIREY LOOKING THINGS FULL OF HORMONES ON THE BRANCHES OF THE VINES THAT CONFUSE THE MOTHS AND THE MOTHS THEN "GO TO THE BAR" TO FIND OTHER MOTHS INSTEAD OF HANG OUT IN THE VINEYARD. IT'S FUCKING RAD!
Not only are they organic, they are delicious. The Juvé y Camps portfolio ranges from recent vintages of their Reserva de Familia featuring bright lemongrass, green apples and fine scrubby bubbles to their 2013 Xarell-lo Essential with robust dried fruits, anise and soft herbacious spice to their 2006 Gran Reserva Brut Naturals that takes the traditional round and fruity flavor profile and opens it up with a blooming freshness.
After the tasting, in a room that included individual sinks, which is pretty baller in my opinion, we went into the cellar. There were floors on floors of bottled catacombs, all smelling like Disneyland.
Yes, like Disneyland.
And I'm not saying that in the proverbial, "Oooh! This is adult Disneyland!" I'm saying it like, "Cellars legitimately smell like Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean and it's one of my favorite smells in all the world, whether it is in Disneyland, a wine cellar, or a shitty indoor mini-golf course." Thick, musty, wet wood with earthy, humid chlorine. I wish I had a pillow that smelled like that so I could fall asleep to it every night and dream of going down Splash Mountain into a wine cellar.
On a more practical and useful note, I put together a quick video of how they transport the bottles through the cellar. It is what I like to call, "That old banking system."
Pretty tight, right?
Yes, I could have faded out or something at the end but I have shit to do!
And that's beside the point! This shit is tight!
ESPECIALLY WHEN IT SMELLS LIKE DISNEYLAND!
The real take away from this, is that I went into this ready to roll my eyes and instead came out with respect and love for Juvé y Camps. Just because something is everywhere doesn't always mean it's big and evil and trying to trick you. Sometimes it's because people are continuing hundreds of years of family tradition and truly care about the product they produce and giving back to the land that gives them, and subsequently us, so much.