Cava discovery (6) Muscàndia


This small winery is one of the most impressive of the Cava producers I’ve come across. It’s the work of two brothers, Albert and Eduard Viader, who first bottled Cava in 2009 when they were 27 and 21. I visited Eduard, who is the younger brother and who makes the wines.

Edo is from San Sidurni, and comes from what he describes as a typical family from that town: for 150 years his family has run a pharmacy. He got his first job picking grapes when he was 14, and then went on to study agronomic engineering. In 2019 they bought four hectares of vines and a ruined masia (country house) which is now their winery. The building had been abandoned for 50 years and they are still in the process of restoring it.

They work with the three local varieties Xarel.lo, Parellada and Macabeu, and everything is done by hand. Viticulture is organic, and has been certified since 2017. ‘It’s the best way to work the vineyard,’ says Edo. ‘Sustainability is very important for me. I have seen the change from conventional to organic.’ He says that organic fertilizing, with cover crops, gives more structure to the soil and resists erosion. And having things growing in the vineyard increases the insects, birds and lizards in the vineyard. ‘In conventional they have nothing to eat, but in organic we have lots if life.’

In terms of viticulture, Edo is looking for good acidity. ‘It makes good Cava and gives the capacity to age.’ All picking is by hand, and all pressing is whole bunch. Whole bunch pressing is important if they are going to be able to separate the fractions of the must. He says that for making Cava with just 9 months on the lees it’s not so important, but for wines that age 4, 5 or 6 years it is important to be very careful with pressing.

‘Our soils give our grapes a very low pH,’ he says. ‘Our acidity is lower than Champagne, but the pH is similar, at 2.9-3.1. pH is the indicator of the capacity for long ageing. It is much more important than acidity. Here we can make brut mature with long ageing.’

Eduard likes to work with low SO2 – the export wines are 50-60 ppm total, with around 10 ppm free SO2.

The wines are labelled Valls d’Anoia-Foix. ‘As a small producer this is a very important step, warranting the origin,’ says Eduard. ‘The other important step is the elaborado integral – for the quality of the appellation this is important – that everything is done in the same cellar.’

All the musts are fermented in inox. The tirage yeast is provided by INCAVI, and is a strain called P29. It’s not dried: it comes in liquid suspension and you need to multiply it, forming a pied de cuve. ‘It gives much better autolysis flavours.’ Like everyone else he uses crown caps for the second fermentation, but for the Gran Reservas he uses cork and agafe. ‘Cork is completely different,’ he says. ‘The cork stopper is natural and maybe you can have defects, but if you have a good cork it is much better than crown cap in preventing oxidation. For long ageing oxygen is our enemy. It gives some flavours to Cava which to me are very interesting. They are gastronomic and complex. I am convinced it is much better for long ageing, but it’s not common.  

All the riddling is done by hand here, which takes 20 days, one touch of the bottle per day. With the gyropalate, which is quicker, more bentonite is needed

Eduard started making Cava, but is now also making some Penedès wines. Initially, they bought the base wines, but this stopped when they moved to the current cellar, in vintage 2020. Production is 50 000 bottles a year overall, growing a little each year.


Muscándia Cava Reserva 2020
60% Xarel.lo, 20% each of the other two. Largest production here (good price/quality ratio at €11 in a shop). Crown cap, cork stopper, extra brut with 4 g/l dosage. 26 months on lees. Lovely aromatics with fine citrus character. The palate is bright with keen acidity, showing lovely precision and dominated by lemon and pear fruit. Very clean and pure, showing zesty citrus fruit on the finish. This shows good density and lovely fruit. 92/100

Muscándia Gran Reserva Guarda Superior 2017
11.5% alcohol. 80% Xarel.lo, 10% Macabeo, 10% Parellada. Brut Nature. Wonderfully aromatic with fine bread, toast and pure, crystalline citrus fruit with some real finesse. The palate is very fine and expressive with hints of vanilla and baked bread, but with the key theme being lime and lemon and yellow plum, with a lovely mineral chalky undertone. Such finesse and delicacy, with depth too. 94/100 (€16)

Muscándia Anhel Blanc de Noirs Cava Gran Reserva Brut Nature Guarda Superior 2018
11.5% alcohol. First part of the press from Pinot Noir. 2700 bottles of this. Fresh and lively with a slight seaweed note on the nose, and very fine cherry and lime fruit. This is really vivid with high acidity and a keen red fruit character. Vivid, linear and focused with lots of acidity, and appealing direct, pure fruit. Amazing potential here. 93/100 (€19)

Viader wines are from single plots and single vineyards, with special vinifications. Xarel.lo is barrel fermented with battonage. Garnatxa is made from the tall cement open lagares known here as cups (sounds like coops). It’s made with 20% whole bunch, macerated for two weeks, then goes to barrel.

Viader Garnatxa Negra Serra del Bosc 2021 Penedès
13% alcohol. 25 year old vines, from bony soils with lots of stones (alluvial), and less clay. This is so elegant and fresh with beautiful floral aromatics of red cherry and cranberry, with lovely purity. The palate is supple and focused with keen acidity and lovely red fruits, with some sappy green hints and good acidity. Such precision to this wine, with massive drinkability and purity. Really impressive. 94/100

Viader Garnatxa Negra Serra del Bosc 2022 Penedès (barrel sample, from a new barrel)
The barrel makes itself known here, with a savoury, woody note, but you can taste the richness and spiciness, allied to the vivid red fruits. Impressive, with more tannin and weight than the 2021. I think this will be really good when blended and the oak is balanced out. 93-95/100