Artisans of time. Gramona is acknowledged, in Spain and beyond, to be the finest of all Cava Houses. Today, all Cavas produced by the Gramona winery are aged Cavas. “Viti, Vini, Vitae. Verum Cava” is the Batlle family saying, which can be translated into English “from the grape, to the wine, to our life. True Cava”. This is why the Gramona Cavas are in a class of their own. In fact, the Gramona winery produces some of the most critically acclaimed and highest quality sparkling wines in the world today.
The Gramona family traces their history as grape growers and winemakers back to 1850, when Josep Batlle managed the vineyard of La Plana for a local family. His son Pau, who was active in the wine cork trade, was uniquely positioned to begin selling the wines made from La Plana to sparkling wine producers in France (France was suffering from the ravages of phylloxera at the time). By 1881, Pau was able to purchase the La Plana vineyard and established Celler Batlle. It was at this time that Pau realized that Xarel.lo, the indigenous grape to this part of Catalunya, was instrumental in his success at selling wines to France due to its ability to make well-aged sparkling wines.
Pau’s daughter, Pilar, married Bartolomé Gramona and together they continued to expand their vineyards and sparkling wine business. In 1921 “Gramona Cava Champagne” first began to appear on their bottles of sparkling wine. By 1945, Pilar and Bartolomé’s sons, Bartomeu and Josep Lluis, took over the management of Gramona and began to elaborate the cuvées that the estate is known for today. III Lustros was first conceived in 1951 but wouldn’t be released until 1961 after nearly ten years of aging sur latte. The early belief of Pau Batlle, that Xarel.lo was on par with the great grapes of Champagne in their capacity to age gracefully sur latte, was proven by his grandsons.
Today the sons of Bartomeu and Josep Lluis, Xavier and Jaume Gramona, manage Gramona. Each generation has brought something new to the estate. Xavier expanded the scientific understanding of lees aging and the inherent properties of Xarel.lo, while Jaume pursued the conversion of all their vineyards – owned and leased – to organic farming (as well as converting the family’s vineyards to biodynamic farming).
The wines made at Gramona are sourced from up to 303 hectares of vineyards that are farmed organically, although the family’s 72 hectares of vines are farmed biodynamically. The soils in the Alt Penedès, where Gramona is situated, are primarily clay limestone. Close to the Anoia river they become more alluvial and there are areas of slate near the looming Montserrat mountain.
Their top sites: La Plana, Font Jui, Mas Escorpí and La Solana are all located close to Celler Batlle, where the wines are made and aged. These sites are also distinguished by calcite formations known as têtes de poupées, which slowly breakdown in the soils and release minerals. Whether it is these unique soils, their location and a gentle rise between the Anoia to the north and several natural springs to the south, or the diversity of the massale selections of Xarel.lo and Macabeu found in these sites that makes Gramona’s best sparkling wines so unique could be debated. Combined with the generations of labor and talent the Gramona family has devoted to these vineyards is the bedrock on which their reputation has been established.
At Gramona time is never an issue. The wines receive perhaps the longest average ageing than any other sparkling wines in Spain and are never released until they are perfectly mature. Eighty-six percent of the sparkling wines produced in Spain are released after only 9 months while at Gramona the wines are aged a minimum of 30 months, and in the case of Enoteca, for 15–17 years! At the top of their range, III Lustros, Celler Batlle and Enoteca are all aged under cork and are riddled and disgorged by hand. III Lustros and Enoteca Brut Nature are finished without a dosage while Celler Batlle receives a modest dosage of 7g/L from a sweet wine solera dating back over 100 years. This solera is also the source for the dosage of La Cuvee and Imperial.
Long considered a pioneer for their work in the cellar and releasing sparkling wines only after extended aging, Gramona now farms their estate organically and biodynamically with certifications from the Consell Català de la Producció Agraria y Ecològica and DEMETER. They are also taking steps to promote sustainability in their production by reducing their carbon footprint – using geothermic energy and recycling all the water used at the estate. With the grapes they source from neighbors, they have formed Alianzas por la Terra, an organization that is actively promoting a change to certified organic viticulture combined with biodynamic principals to bring life back to the soils in the region and encourage biodiversity in the zone.
In 2017 Gramona received Paraje status for their vineyards clustered around Font de Jui, a spring located in the heart of their Domaine. After years of frustration and struggling to improve the reputation of Cava, they withdrew from the DO in 2019 becoming founding members of Corpinnat.
Range of wines today
In addition to their range of sparkling wines, Gramona also makes still wines within D.O. Penedès including the ever-popular Gessamí – a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, and Gewzürztraminer – as well as several bottlings from Xarel.lo, most notably a mineral and winsome rosé, Mart, made entirely from the rare Xarel.lo Vermell – a pink berried mutation of the variety.