On agenda for the fifth day was a trip to the Montserrat mountain, a vinery visit to Can Rafuls del Caus and final dinner in restaurant Cal Xim.
We left Sitges by bus and arrived to the foot of Montserrat mountain about one hour later. From the foot of the mountain there was an old cable car going up. We had to wait a few minutes and then it was finally time to go up. The cable car was old, but it worked very well. The capacity was 35 persons which mean that our whole group could go up together. It took about five minutes and then we were finally up. When we arrived up to the top it was very surprising as it was in a way a completely different world. There was originally an old monastery.
Montserrat, whose name means serrated mountain, is ideally located to play an important role in the cultural and spiritual life of Catalonia. It is Catalonia’s most important religious retreat and groups of young people from Barcelona and all over Catalonia make overnight hikes at least once in their lives to watch the sunrise from the heights of Montserrat. Virgin of Montserrat (the black virgin), is Catalonia’s favourite saint, and is located in the sanctuary of the Mare de Déu de Montserrat, next to the Benedictine monastery nestling in the towers and crags of the mountain. The Escolania, Montserrat’s Boys’ Choir, is one of the oldest in Europe, and performs during religious ceremonies and communal prayers in the basilica.
It could easily be seen that this was a very popular place and there was a lot of tourists especially from Russia. After some free time we were having lunch at the restaurant Montserrat. The location was very good, but that was almost the only thing that was good. The food was quite ok, nothing special, byt the service was not very good. You could hardly see anybody from the personnel smiling and they were only focusing on getting the money from the tourists and they did not really have any interest in the work they did and it was quite poor experience. The wine they served was also of low quality and overall the experience form this place was poor. I must admit that this probably the poorest restaurant we visited during the whole trip.
After we had finished the lunch we went back down with the cable car and next we were going to a winery called Can Rafols del Caus. We arrived in advance and we even got the opportunity to meet the owner who was just going to have lunch. He was not really in the mood to talk with our group, but finally we met our guide David who was going to give all needed information about the winery.
In 1979, Carlos Esteva decided to go and live on his grandfather’s country estate, Can Ràfols dels Caus. After buying out the shares of his brother and sister, he embarked on the slow process of restoring the old building, which was in a semi-derelict condition.
At the same time, he regenerated the farming of the vineyards by introducing new varieties and planting methods, placing his bets on the viability of producing wines entirely on the estate, and making wines with a distinct character so as to establish the name of the estate as a mark of unreserved quality.
Carlos Esteva was one of the few wine growers who lived on the estate, fighting to achieve his goals within a framework of sustainability and out of respect for the natural heritage of the countryside and architectural heritage of the buildings.
About twenty-five years after starting his wine venture, Carlos Esteva decided to take a giant step forward by building a new cellar. The aim was not to squeeze in more vats, barrels and bottles, but to work better. With this project, the winery’s potential for producing quality wines has multiplied, as the cellar is now geared to promoting micro-vinifications, separating batches even more and research. The cellar which has been completely carved out of the Dolomitic limestone of the Garraf is invisible from above ground and totally integrated into the landscape. It boasts a vast vinification and micro-vinification hall, and a barrel/aging chamber to enable close monitoring of the entire process. The new cellar was built on different levels to enable decantation by gravity. The cellar was really something special and it was clear that this has not been built form the money made from the wines they produce. During our trip we have had the possibility to visit different kind of wineries, but this was perhaps one of the most special ones. Here will now follow some pictures from the winery and also from the wines we tasted. Overall I think the wines were good. However, I was still missing a feeling that this was something special. They had clearly been focusing on the marketing part, but after some really nice tasting earlier in the week I did not get any special feeling about this.
After the Can Rafols del Caus we were heading back to the hotel and for during the evening we were going to visit the Restaurant Cal Xim. There we also met Agusti Torello who gave a very interesting presentation about their new winery and we got the oppotinity to taste a good Cava and some other good wines. The food and service at Cal Xim was also very good. Overall I think we have once again had a very good and “special” day. Thanks once again to Felix and the whole group for this.