The modernist cathedral of cava that is hidden in the town of Rosalía
In one of the rooms of the Roger Goulart cellar farmhouse, a collage of old photos shows the illustrious visits that this winery received in the mid-20th century, led by Salvador Dalí, one of the most coveted influencers of the time. In addition to, seen over time, appearing to be a precursor to Instagram, one can also analyze this predisposition of the Canals family to open the cellars to the public as a foretaste of wine tourism. “It can be considered a precursor cellar of wine tourism when it was not yet invented,” says Pedro Muñoz, winemaker for 15 years at Roger Goulart, a modernist cellar located in Sant Esteve Sesrovires (Barcelona), the same town where the phenomenon originated. Rosalía, who celebrates 140 years with the impulse of being part of the Cune group (CVNE). Without vineyards, but with more than a kilometer of galleries 30 meters deep, the company had a turnover of three million euros in 2021 with the production of some 850,000 bottles of sparkling wines, 85% of which were exported, with Japan as the first destination. . Not even the pandemic stopped his good progress.
Also called the cava cathedral —for the modernist-style building signed by Ignasi Mas i Morell, one of Gaudí’s disciples—, Roger Goulart is located in the center of this municipality in Baix Llobregat, on the border with Penedès. With the church on the left and in front of the Motomami offices, where Rosalía’s family directs the screening of the singer, this monumental winery has witnessed the growth of a municipality thanks to industrialization, with Seat as the leading company. Despite this environment, the cellar does not go unnoticed due to the majesty of the main building, built between 1890 and 1918 —similar to the wineries of the time in the French region of Champagne—, right in front of the Canals family farmhouse , raised in 1863.
The cornerstone of this project was the Sant Jordi cellar, built 10 meters underground in 1882 as the family’s first pantry, where they kept all the food from the garden at a cool temperature so that it would not perish. There the first champagne tests were made (this is what it was called in the area before it was prohibited by the denomination of origin of the Champagne region), imitating the sparkling wines that were made in this region. The Canals, like other Catalans, learned about this way of bottling grape juice after visiting Champagne.
Later, long galleries were dug 30 meters deep. Until reaching the kilometer and the capacity to house 2.5 million bottles. These tunnels provide, in a natural and constant way, the ideal conditions for bottle fermentation: 14 degrees of temperature, 85% humidity and the silence necessary for the character and structure of the Xarel lo grape to rest before it is ripe. the cava is tasted. Since 2017 it has been part of the CVNE group (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España), after several twists in the script that have allowed it to reach today with hardly any slowdown in production. It was only interrupted during the Civil War to make brandy, as winemaker Pedro Muñoz recalls.
Initially, the sparkling wines made here were marketed as Canals i Nubiola, the family name, but later this cellar passed into the hands of the Agroalimen group, through the marriage of a Canals daughter with Lluís Carulla. When this family group became professional, the brand was sold to Nueva Rumasa, owned by José María Ruiz-Mateos, to finally end up, in the mid-1980s, in the hands of Freixenet, which continues to market it. But the change of course in Sant Esteve was given by the workers themselves, who reached an agreement with the Carulla family to continue managing the winery, creating a new brand. This is how Roger Goulart was born at the end of the seventies, recovering the name of a French citizen who had come to this area many years before to cultivate vineyards. His name appears on old maps of Sant Esteve Sesrovires as the owner of various lands. Since then, the product has gained in quality and exports, with the Japanese being true fans of the house. Other countries to which they arrive are the United States, Korea, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden or the United Kingdom.
That was one of the reasons why Cune decided to enter the world of sparkling wines with the purchase of Roger Goulart five years ago. María Urrutia, fifth generation of this family business, says that they saw the opportunity to expand their offer with a type of wine that they had already made in the past. “Quality is a priority, we want to grow and give strength to the origin and the land”, she emphasizes, adding that they want to continue growing “taking Roger Goulart everywhere and once again being more present in the national market”.
Muñoz is in charge of selecting the grapes that grow in the upper area of Penedès, a few kilometers from the cellar, which is committed to long-aging elaborations, with a minimum of 24 months of rest that can reach 48 months in the of more range. They currently offer seven cellars, mainly with the Macabeo, Xarel·lo and Parellada varieties for the whites and Garnacha for the rosés. With the acquisition and push of CVNE, favorable winds are blowing for Roger Goulart.
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