It might just be down to me having the attention span of a gnat or maybe it was the translation from Catalan and Spanish to a heavily accented English; but I rather lost the thread. Roul Lopez engaged us, to one degree or another, with talk of yeast. I know, I know in relation to wine it keeps me awake at night with fascination too.

Usually of course when on such in-depth winery tours talk of yeasts seldom gets past the ‘natural yeast’ or ‘brought in’ but at Freixenet they produce their own. Banish thoughts of a couple of test tubes and a little lump wrapped in tinfoil kept in a fridge. Here yeast production is serious.

To maintain consistency in their wines it is crucial, as Roul extolled to maintain a consistent yeast strain. It involves a thirty day turn around, the latest high tech equipment and the employment of a top team of specialists. You can tell Roul is a scientist ‘cause he wears a white coat with four different coloured pens in the pocket. There was talk of utilising the very finest filters; ones from NASA no less. The investment must have been substantial; I can’t see a man with pens in his top pocket nicking NASA equipment so they must have paid for them. Sadly we didn’t see the filters. But we did get a unique, off-piste, tour of the yeast production area of the huge Freixenet winery. Maintaining consistent yeast production for the 7 million case yearly production is a gigantic operation in itself. The scale is mammoth with computer equipment, stainless steel piping and giant coloured tubes carrying the vitals of sparkling wine production from here to over there…

While this fascinating insight into Freixenet cava making isn’t on the usual visitor itinerary a visit to the caves and hallowed cellars is recommended. While Freixenet may lack the architectural grandeur of rival cava producer Codorníu but they do have a cool Cordon Negro shaped car sitting on the forecourt! Or a truck in the form of a giant cava cork, nor even a motor bike hewn from the iconic Freixenet black bottle too. The tour includes a mix of the old cellars and stylishly lit bottle stores, audio-visual experiences and a ride through the bowels on a buggy-pulled train.

The Freixenet Winery is located in the heart of the Penedés region in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia about 45 km from Barcelona. The entrance is just 50 meters form the railway station. Tours last around an hour and a half, booking required. There are plenty of options including wine flight tastings, food and wine pairing sessions, lunches and so on. You don’t get to meet Roul sadly. Discussion of yeast production and usage entirely optional.


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