It’s tough to think about Spanish wine without thinking about Cava. And, it’s tough to think about Cava without thinking about Freixenet’s iconic black and gold Cordon Negro bottle. A boozy brunch simply wouldn’t be complete without it. But many people don’t realize that the family behind this ubiquitous brand makes some pretty spectacular still wines as well, all over Spain and beyond.
Bottlenotes caught up with Josep Ferrer of Ferrer Family Wines to learn a bit more about what it’s like to grow up in wine, what defines their diverse portfolio, and what we can look forward to as we witness the continued success of one of Spain’s seminal winemaking families.
And, for a trip through many of Spain’s winemaking regions without ever leaving your desk, check out our photo album documenting Bottlenotes’ recent adventures through Rias Baixas, Rioja, Priorat and more, alongside Ferrer Family Wines HERE.
The Daily Sip: Tell us about growing up in such a prominent wine family?
Josep Ferrer: My family has been making wine for more than 100 years, so I grew up around it. We moved to California when I was 3 months old because my father was starting Gloria Ferrer. Up until a certain age it all felt like the most natural thing in the world. Eventually, I realized that my family was a little different than most. Now, to be able to work on these brands in the U.S. out of our New York office and transmit the passion that I feel for them, that is a huge privilege that I am grateful for every day.
DS: 2014 was the 100th Anniversary of the first release of Freixenet Cava. How did the Ferrer Family celebrate?
JF: Last year was a very special year for us! We celebrated with the U.S. launch of Casa Sala, a very special vintage Cava hand-crafted using century-old techniques, including the wooden press my great-grandfather brought down from France in the early 1900s. Casa Sala was a passion project of my grandfather, José Ferrer Sala, and the idea was to pay homage to the origins of Cava and make the best wine we possibly could. All aspects of production are managed by hand—from harvesting to manual pressing, riddling and disgorgement. This is a truly artisanal wine and a labor of love.
DS: The Ferrer Family has such deep roots in sparkling wine. How do you think this history has informed and influenced the family’s growth and success in Spain’s other prominent winemaking regions?
JF: I would say attention to quality has always been the single most important element of my family’s winemaking strategy. Whether it’s for our widely-distributed Cavas like Cordon Negro, or our small-production labels like the Ferrer Family Wines, we ensure the utmost care throughout the winemaking process. Techniques such as handpicking grapes, carrying them from vineyard to winery in small bins and not pressing the fruit too aggressively are not cheap, but the costs have been well worth the results. Expanding outside of the Penedès to embrace other wine regions shows my family’s dedication to making quality wine. Rather than sitting back and sticking to Cava, we decided to bring our extensive experience to other regions and work with top-notch winemakers from those areas. The result has been very exciting.
DS: What do you love to drink from the Ferrer Family Wines portfolio?
As far as whites go, I have always had a soft spot for our Albariño, Vionta. I still remember the first time I tried it. I was surprised by how crisp it was, and by all of the fruit flavors and aromas it contained. We have a diverse range of reds, but if I have to choose one, I will say that Mas de Subira is a very special wine and a fine example of the unique and almost surreal region of Priorat. On the more classical end, Valdubón Reserva is a rich and complex wine from Ribera del Duero that has been a favorite of mine for many years.
DS: Anything we should be looking out for on the Ferrer Family horizon?
We are very thrilled to announce that we are currently re-launching our Katnook Estate wines in the US. Katnook Estate is an amazing property in Coonawarra, South Australia, a region known for producing some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in the world. For this reason we have decided to import a range of three critically acclaimed Cabernets from Katnook, although it was hard to pass up some of the other amazing varietals they are producing down there.
What to drink:
If you’re just not ready to give up Summer: Paramus Verdejo 2013 (Rueda) $16
If you’re easing into fall: Garbó Rosé 2013 (Montsant) $19
If you’re wondering what to drink this Thanksgiving: VAZA Crianza 2011, (Rioja) $15
If you’re cozying up by the fire this winter: Morlanda Red Criança 2009, (Priorat) $48