Oriol Rossell Brut Nature Reserva de la Propietat 2006: Cava for castellers

 The December selection from the Vins Noè wine club brings usually Cava. This year was not different, and a few days ago I poured one of the bottles, Oriol Rossell Brut Nature Reserva de la Propietat 2006.

The composition is 70% Xarel•lo, 20 % Macabeu and 10 % Parellada, with 5 % of the Xarel•lo aged in oak. Vines are 40 – 50 years old, and there is a double grape selection: at the vineyard and just before pressing. Only the first juice is used. After second fermentation, bottles are aged for at least 45 months before degorjat.

Colour is pale yellow, with small, persistent bubble. In the nose I could find apple and pineapple, together with pastries, balsamic tones and toast. Complex and elegant, not too intense.

In the mouth is still fresh, in spite of the ageing, creamy, with well integrated gas and acidity.

Balanced and versatile, can be enjoyed by itself or with a full meal without red meat. Price at shop: around 28 EUR.

Oriol Rossell, the founder of the winery, passed away recently, and he was mourned not only by the wine people, but by the castellers as well, as he was also founder of the Castellers de Vilafranca del Penedès, and member of their Consell de Savis, Council of the Wise. But what are castellers? Easy: those that build castells.

Castells were inscribed in 2010 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. I now quote the description of UNESCO:

Castells are human towers built by members of amateur groups, usually as part of annual festivities in Catalonian towns and cities. The traditional setting is the square in front of the town hall balcony. The human towers are formed by castellers standing on the shoulders of one another in a succession of stages (between six and ten). Each level of the tronc, the name given to the second level upwards, generally comprises two to five heavier built men supporting younger, lighter-weight boys or girls. The pom de dalt – the three uppermost levels of the tower – comprises young children. Anyone is welcome to form the pinya, the throng that supports the base of the tower. Each group can be identified by its costume, particularly the colour of the shirts, while the cummerbund serves to protect the back and is gripped by castellers as they climb up the tower. Before, during and after the performance, musicians play a variety of traditional melodies on a wind instrument known as a gralla, setting the rhythm to which the tower is built. The knowledge required for raising castells is traditionally passed down from generation to generation within a group, and can only be learned by practice. “

Castellers de Vilafranca at work

A pretty good description of a popular Catalan tradition that has special following in the wine zones close to Tarragona (with Valls as a center) and Penedès. Castellers de Vilafranca is one of the leading colles (groups) of castellers, toghether with those of Valls.

I can only encourage you to visit those parts, taste their wines and look up at the castells that rise amid the sounds of the gralles (see video below). An experience not to be forgotten.

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