Written by: TREVE RING
The Parting of the “C”s and the Swell of Corpinnat
Formed in 2015, and ratified by the EU in late 2017, the Association of Wine Producers and Growers Corpinnat was officially launched in the spring of 2018. This sparkling-wine association takes into account the entire production of a producer rather than just individual wines. Founding members included six of the most important names of the DO Cava: Gramona, Nadal, Sabaté i Coca (Castellroig), Llopart, Recaredo and Torelló. Since then, Mas Candí, Huguet de Can Feixes, Júlia Bernet and Can Descregut have joined, the latter only in January 2020, making the collective currently 10 strong.
Conspicuously absent is legendary terroir-ist Raventós i Blanc, the first and most strongly felt producer to leave the DO Cava in 2012. Since then, the winery has continued to produce its ageworthy and remarkable sparkling wines solo, in the Conca del Riu Anoia, a small geographical area within the region of Penedès that is not (yet) legally recognized as a DO.
Each Corpinnat producer was forced to formally leave the DO Cava, as the Regulatory Board considers both brands incompatible on one label. Corpinnat producers are no longer allowed to use the terms Cava, Paraje Calificado or Gran Reserva on their bottles.
Corpinnat was born of two concepts: cor (“heart”), referring to the heartland in Catalunya where Spain’s first sparkling wines began more than 130 years ago, and pinnat from the Latin word pinnae, documented in the 10th Century as penetense, and the root name for Penedès.
In order to be Corpinnat, and once a winery is accepted into the group, wines must come from 100 percent organic, sustainable, hand-harvested vineyards. These vineyards, and the wines, must be made within the defined Corpinnat territory, one of the 39 municipalities in the most historic area of Penedès. Furthermore, the wines must be entirely vinified on the winery’s premises, aged for a minimum of 18 months and must contain a minimum of 90 percent indigenous grapes, defined by the group as Xarel·lo, Macabeu, Parellada and Malvasia for whites, and Garnacha, Monastrell, Sumoll and Xarel·lo Vermell for reds. Grapes can be sourced from independent growers, though these farmers must be paid a minimum rate that is significantly higher than what the DO Cava requires, ensuring sustainable farming practices and livelihoods.
The Corpinnat collective markets the wines together and independently, and maintains a shared website profiling the producers and outlying the regulations. As the group’s ranks grow, and new vintages are released, it may take some time to regularly see Corpinnat on labels and shelves, but when you do, you’re guaranteed to have a bottle of wine made by passionate producers, full of cor for their special place.
As some of these wines were made and/or released before the official switch to Corpinnat, they are not all officially labelled as such.
LLOPART BRUT RESERVA ORGANIC 2014, DO CAVA ($29)
Toasted almonds, biscotti, lightly smoked stone and cider apples stream through this salty, racy Cava. The finish vibrates with lingering ripples along the palate. The typical trio — Macabeo, Xarel·lo and Parellada — from four estate vineyards, spent 18 months on the lees. Eight g/l RS just rounds off some of the sharp edges, leaving lots of bright, crisp fruit intact. Members of the Llopart clan are recorded as viticulturists dating back to 1385(!) at their current estate; they have been making Cava since 1887.
RECAREDO TERRERS BRUT NATURE 2015, CORPINNAT ($30)
Searing acidity drives this biodynamic wine, sourced from estate vineyards in the calcareous soils of Alt Penedès’ Bitlles Valley Highlands. You understand the soils at once, with the grip and freshness inherent in this striking fizz. I love the transparency in labelling here: this blend of Xarel·lo, Macabeo, Parellada and Monastrell was aged 39 months under cork, was disgorged on May 30, 2019, and was hand-disgorged without freezing the neck (due to aging under cork rather than crown cap), with no dosage. Green apple, lemon pith, earthy yeast, broken stones are tight on the taut, humming palate, gripped with chalk on the sides and finishes with a brisk astringency on the bone-dry palate. Fantastic energy.
The fourth generation of the Sabaté i Coca family cares for this 40-hectare estate in the River Bitlles valley, and this single-parcel wine, their flagship, is from 90+ year-old Xarel·lo vines in limestone-studded Terroja (terra rosa = “red clay”) soils. One third of the wine was native-fermented in chestnut barrels, where it remained for 3 to 4 months prior to resting for 50 months sur lattes (stored on their side). Dusty stones, red apple, pink-perfumed florals and nougat are framed with a great stony presence and seasoned with anise. Quite savoury and profound, feeling the weight of its soils and concentration of the old vines. Disgorged December 2018.
GRAMONA III LUSTROS BRUT NATURE 2012, CORPINNAT ($35)
From the biodynamically farmed 22.5 ha Finca Font de Jui, and single 130m altitude La Plana vineyard sloping alongside the Anoia River, this Xarel·lo and Macabeo blend spent 84 months on the lees, under cork. Deeply toasty, with a big presence filled with dusty stone, light and tight grapefruit, wild rosemary, biscuity lees and lemon pith. Riveting acidity holds this quenching wine long on the palate. Quite complete.