Cava discovery (4) Vilarnau


Vilarnau is a medium-sized Cava house owned by González Byass since 1982. In the 1980s they wanted to diversify in Spain, and there were then three very important DOs: Jerez (where they were already present), Rioja and Cava. So they purchased Beronia in Rioja, and in Cava country they bought a small winery called Castelo de Vilarnau. They purchased the estate the Vilarnau winery is now part of in 1989, and built the current winery in 2005. The estate, farmed organically, is 20 hectares, but they source grapes from 120 hectares altogether, with three-year contracts.

I visited with winemaker Eva Plazas Torné (pictured above), who has been working here for more than 20 years. We looked at some of the base wines. These would normally have been bottled earlier in the year but there has been a shortage of bottles.

The first base wine is a blend of 50% Macabeu with 35% Parelada and 15% Chardonnay, destined for the Reserva Brut Natural. This is bright and fresh with nice juicy citrus friit and a chalky edge. Acid is 6 g/l tartaric. The second base wine  is for 18 months ageing for the Brut Reserva, and it’s a blend of the three classic white varieties. Fruity, supple and transparent, with an ease to it. Then we look at the base wine for the rosé. Rosé is a big thing here at Vilarnau, and they have had a lot of success with it. In Spain the market for rosé Cava is just 3%. This is 85% Garnacha and 15% Pinot Noir. It’s fruity and primary with some strawberry fruit, in a supple, fruity style.

Then we looked at the same Xarel.lo base wine, aged in Chestnut oak and aged in French oak (both new). The French oak is very woody, with vanilla, cedar and spice, as well as some creaminess. The Chestnut respects the variety more and gives a spicy edge to the citrus fruit.  


Vilarnau Brut Reserva Guarda Superior Comtats de Barcelona 2020
Main production. Organic reserve, more than 18 months. This is blend 1 from tank, Macabeo, Xarel.lo, Parellada. 8.5 g/l dosage. Bright, vivid and pithy with nice taut citrus fruit as well as some apple and pear. Juicy with some slight bitter hints on the finish that add freshness. Nice juiciness. 89/100

Vilarnau Brut Nature Reserva Guarda Superior Comtats de Barcelona 2020
11.5% alcohol. Taut, fresh and herb-laden with some pithy citrus, apple and pear notes. Fruit-forward and direct with nice intensity. Nice precision here with fine spices and bright citrus fruit, finishing pithy and slightly herby. Lovely precision. 91/100

Vilarnau Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2014
11.5% alcohol. This has a lovely crystalline citrus fruit core with some fine spices and notes of toasted bread and almond. Structured and still fresh on the palate with nice weight. Lovely complexity. Supple and fine with a subtle waxy edge to the fruit. Delicate and fruity, but also complex. 93/100

Vilarnau Albert de Vilarnau Chardonnay Pinot Noir Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2015
12% alcohol. 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir. Yellow/gold colour. Complex bready, toasty nose with some spicy notes, as well as sweet pear and apple fruit. It’s fruity and lively with some toasty notes and bright citrus fruit on the palate, showing notes of mandarin and orange peel, as well as a touch of cherry. Lively acidity here: it’s really fine. 93/100

Vilarnau Albert de Vilarnau Fermentado en Castaño 2016
12% alcohol. Xarel.lo: 50% in chestnut, 50% in steel tank. Full golden colour. This has inviting aromatics of spice, honey, subtle wood and crystalline cherry and citrus fruit. The palate has a wonderful savoury, spicy depth to the powerful citrus fruit, with honey, old wood, bread and a savoury spiciness. Really nice intensity here with lovely combination of the fruit and the barrel ferment character. Nice depth of flavour. 94/100

Vilarnau Brut Rosé Delicat Reserva Guarda Superior Comtats de Barcelona 2020
12% alcohol. 85% Garnacha, 15% Pinot Noir. Pale pink in colour, this is really fruity, rounded and appealing with sweet cherry and strawberry fruit. It’s juicy and bright with nice crisp fruit, showing good acidity, nice texture, and a lovely red fruit presence. 90/100

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