Wednesday, 11 May 2016

County fizzies

About 45 min from our apartment by train is a place you have never heard of, but you know well. It's a little town called Sant Sadurnia d'Anoia. Ring a bell? Nope? Read a label. It's home to the entire Spanish sparkling wine industry, home to Cordiniu, and home to Freixenet (who happen to be right next door to the train station).

You know Freixenet. They only source grapes from 1,200 farms to make 80,000,000 bottles of champagne a year in a factory with 550 employees.
From the train platform 
What's that parked in front? 
Nice car.
Stampede Parade, here I come
Cool scooter, too.
We signed up for a 12:30 PM tour of the place, but had an hour to kill, so sauntered into the sleepy little village of St. Sadurni d"Anoia.

The Freixenet operation (and the Cordiniu operation) are separated from the town by a deep valley with vineyards and a little creek, spanned by a big bridge.
The valley from the bridge 
Karen, Mike & Hilda peering into the abyss
The town isn't just sleepy; it appeared entirely shut at 11:45 AM (and again when we wandered through at 3:30 PM). But the place is cava cellar (Spanish champagne maker) after cava cellar, none of which you've ever heard of.
Heard of it? 
How about this one? 
This one? 
How about this one? 
This one's called Jaume Giro i Giro
Probably not this one either.
There are about 25 champagne houses in the town. Another, Segura Viudas, is nearby here too, and it turns out it's owned by Freixenet anyway. Freixenet own a lot of wineries, including one in California, one in Washington and one in the Coonawarra.

The Freixenet tour (which lasts 90 min, including a glass of champagne, and costs €8.50) is quite rushed, and though the tour was in english, our nice tour guide wasn't all that fluent. How can a 90 min tour be rushed? For starters, there are the old caves, only partially used. They go 4 stories underground.

Bottles stacked to age pre-riddling 
Lots of bottles 
Barrel aging in chestnut so no flavour is added 
Many, many barrels 
Blue barrels are the secret dossage aging 
Old & dusty botttles, mostly for show 
Not for show. Stacked bottles for aging 
A riddling room 
A whole lot of riddling 
Riddling deep in the cave depths 
More deep cave aging
That's just the OLD section of the winery. After passing through a 50 m long tunnel you can barely stand up in, you get to the NEW section of the winery with its 20 square KILOMETRES of bottles being aged, which you visit by driving around in a train.
Driving by millions upon millions... 
...upon millions upon millions of bottles aging, and... 
...millions upon millions upon millions... 
...of more bottles aging.
THEN you get to the bottling line which is mostly automated with cool robots.
Bottles whizz by 
Robots stack them 
Into baskets to age
Finally, you get to the tasting room and gift shop.
The room 
The selections 
The gift shop
One thing you CAN'T do in Spain is drink alcohol outside on the street or in a park, so the idea of buying champagne to go with out picnic was a non-starter.

So we went back into the still asleep town of St. Sadurnia, found a bench and had lunch (at 2:45 PM, like civilized Spaniards), then tried to visit the tourist information office (and Cava Discovery Centre), which was -- of course, closed for the day at 3 PM. With not much else to do, we walked the town past quiet buildings, shut down businesses and interesting closed churches...
Not sure what this is, but the grass in the courtyard is overrun with weeds 
A house built in 1865 
Nice stairs 
Funky corner building 
WOW! Another person! 
The church 
Interesting entry space
...and past a park where the colony of feral cats are taken care of by the Government.
Not a sign you would see where I live
You can see by the photos that, after raining in the morning (6 days straight), it got sunny today! Cool! Here's hoping that stays a bit.

Tomorrow, we are going up here.
That's a mountain
Hope the weather holds.

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