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Barcelona’s best cava bars

I came across the musing of Iris and Rocinta, a couple of twenty-something girls living in Barcelona, who, like me, are crazy for the city’s cava bars. In Lifestyle Barcelona, they write about the best places to sample cava in the Catalan capital:

Cava is Catalonia’s very own take on France’s Champagne, a fruity, sparkly, sophisticated treat made with methods stolen from Spain’s Northern neighbour in the 19th Century. The homeland of Cava is the Penedès region, located approximately 40km southwest of Barcelona. The region is surrounded by rough and rocky elevation of Montserrat, and enjoys an ideal climate for wine-making.

In Spain a toast isn’t a toast without Cava, and so naturally during holidays, especially Christmas Eve (La Noche Buena) and New Year’s Eve (La Noche Vieja) the refreshing sparkling wine is particularly popular. However the fun-loving residents of Barcelona don’t need a special occasion to enjoy a glass of bubbly, and year round they can be found tucking into a glass at ‘Xampanyerias’ or ‘Champagne Bars’ dotted around the city. Find our guide to the best Cava bars in Barcelona below and if you find yourself in town, it’s well worth dropping by one to sample the authentic, bustling atmosphere of Catalans at play. Do like most young Catalan do and grab a quick bite and a glass before hitting the clubs. A traditional Cava bar will close at 10 or 11pm, so make sure you are in before 8pm to find some coveted personal space and enjoy your tipple accompanied by a ´bocadillo´(Insider’s-tip: Cava without tapas is as inconceivable as Barcelona without La Sagrada Familia, the two simply belong together! Often these tapas will take the form of bocadillos, small and tasty sandwiches).

1.     Xampañyería Can Paixano. C/De la Reina Cristina 7;

2.     El Xampanyet. C/Montcada 22.

3.     La Vinya del Senyor. Placa Santa Maria 5.

4.     Cavamar. C/Vila Joiosa 52;

5.    Clos Montblanc. C/Pau Claris 169;

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Bernard Adam wants to know if I’m going to be on Île de Ré on the 27th of this month and I tell him, No, I’m leaving at the end of the week.

Ah, too bad, too bad, he says, pouring me a glass of the local white wine, called Le Royal. He says that on the 27th, the islanders celebrate the Fête des Vendanges which begins with a procession carrying a statue of St. Vincent from the church in Le Bois Plage and ends with lots of eating and drinking of the new wine.

“On this island, we love St. Vincent,” he says. “He saved us.” Bernard explains how, for hundreds of years, they have been making wine on the island. And then the phylloxera came and just about wiped out the vino business.

“So we prayed to St. Vincent, the patron saint of vintners and wine growers, and the phyloxera was gone the next year. Now we thank him with a fête on his feast day.”


photo by David Lansing

photo by David Lansing

  I think this is a wonderful story. But it’s also a crock. First of all, the phylloxera did indeed wipe out the vines on Île de Ré  as well as most of France between 1860 and 1900, but St. Vincent wasn’t the savior of island wine growers. That would be J.E. Planchon who figured out that if you grafted French vines onto disease-resistant U.S. root stock, you could control the problem. Unfortunately, they didn’t make Professor Planchon a saint (though he did get a statue which stands just outside the Montpellier train station).

But here’s the really interesting thing: There are two (at least) St. Vincents. One was born in Huesca, Sapin in the third century and he is, indeed, the patron saint of vintners and wine growers. However, his feast day is Jan. 22. The more familiar saint is St. Vincent de Paul, who was born in France, died in Paris and whose feast day is, indeed, Sept. 27. Except he has nothing to do with grapes or wine (though he is the patron saint of charitable societies). So somewhere along the line, the wine growers of Île de Ré blended a 3rd century Spanish saint with a 17th century French one and came up with the Fête des Vendanges—sort of a Catholic meritage. Which makes perfect sense when you realize that Le Royal, after all, is a blend of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and colombard. It seems that everything on this islands, including saints, is a blend of things. 

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