This is one of the gems of Cava: an ultratraditional producer making wines of class and poise, based on long ageing on lees. Can Sala is owned by Família Ferrer, and until 2018 this was part of the Freixenet empire. The Ferrer family (Pere Ferrer and Dolores Sala) founded Cava giant Freixenet in 1914, and this was a family owned company until 2018 when the majority of shares were purchased by German sparkling wine company Henkell. Familia Ferrer wines remain in family hands, and now focus on Can Sala and also still wines under the Ferrer label.
Can Sala is a relatively recent project, though. In 2000, José Ferrer Sala, son of Pere and Dolores, decided to restore the facilities of the old family winery, making wines using two old plots of low-yielding vines.
The Can Sala winery is like a museum of how a sparkling winery might have looked 80 years ago. The press is an extremely old wooden one, square, with shallow sides. It’s a bit like an old Cocquard, and is ideal for gentle pressing of grapes, four tons at a time.
The wines are aged under natural cork (agrafe), held in place with a clip, and are then disgorged by hand, to order.
One of the distinctive things about these wines is the high proportion of Parellada in the blend. Xarel.lo is the go-to Cava grape for long-ageing wines, because of its freshness. But Can Sala believe that Parellada keeps freshness, elegance and acidity, when the vines are farmed well.
I was blown away by these wines. And it was a real treat to be able to hand disgorge one of them (the 2008) without first chilling the neck! It wasn’t too disastrous an effort.
Vinyas de Can Sala Cava de Paraje Brut Nature 2015
12.5% alcohol. 50% Parellada, 50% Xarel.lo. Beautifully aromatic nose with fine lemon and pear fruit, a touch of green apple, and subtle chalky mineral characters. The palate is fresh and linear with lovely citrus notes as well as dried herbs and a hint of pear richness, with some subtle white peach. There’s a mineral twist here on the finish. There’s some richness but also restraint, with a real sense of finesse and delicacy. Juicy and linear. 94/100
Can Sala Cava de Paraje Brut Nature 2008
12.5% alcohol. 50% Parellada, 50% Xarel.lo. Refined, toasty and crystalline with lovely citrus fruit core as well as almond, mandarin and some peach. There’s a hint of appealing pithy bitterness that adds an impression of freshness and structure on the finish. Linear and fine, with lovely intensity and a nice balance between the fruit and the structure. Very fine. 95/100
Can Sala Cava de Paraje Brut Nature 2007
60% Parellada, 40% Xarel.lo. Bright, refined and linear with a core of crystalline citrus fruit. This is so linear and bright with lovely purity to the fruit, with amazing freshness considering the age. Pure, mineral, linear with subtle hints of marzipan and cherry. There’s volume here and texture, but also freshness. Beautiful stuff. 96/100
Can Sala Cava de Paraje Brut Nature 2006
Disgorged April 2023. Very fine with some toast and lime, as well as refined lemony fruit with a nice chalky edge. This has lovely fruit quality, with subtle toast and spice. Everything hangs together well. There’s a slight toffee note as well as some cream, but they integrate really well with the fine citrus notes. Lovely depth of flavour here: quite vinous. 95/100
Can Sala Cava de Paraje Brut Nature 2005
Disgorged February 2023. 75% Parellada, 25% Xarel.lo. Beautifully expressive nose with very refined citrus fruit, showing some chalky minerality and fine spices. So fresh, refined and precise. The palate has dried herbs, marzipan and a hint of waxiness as well as a core of pure fruit. Amazing mineral, spicy tension with crystalline lemony fruit, showing great precision to the concentrated fruit. Has a sense of refinement, showing real beauty. 97/100
Can Sala Cava de Paraje Brut Nature 2004
Disgorged April 2023. 25% Parellada, 75% Xarel.lo. Deep yellow/gold in colour. Has toast, spice, dried herbs and honey on the nose. Nice depth and structure here with bold lemon and peach fruit with a sense of refinement, with the toasty, nutty notes superbly integrated. This has a lovely finely spiced finish that just keeps on going. Such a wine, unmistakably Cava, but such a brilliant expression of it. 96/100