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by Fred McMillin
for December 7, 1998

 

'Tis the Season to Be Bubbly


Prologue

Question:
Where in France is the world's largest producer of methode champenoise (fermented in the bottle) sparkling wine?
Answer:
It's located at the town of San Sadurni de Noya near Barcelona in Spain, not France!


The Rest of the Story

Freixenet Spumante It had been a wonderful six centuries for the house of Freixenet (fresh-eh-net), named after the Ferrer family's first homestead, "La Freixeneda," meaning "a place where the ash trees grow." Then disaster! The Spanish Civil war. Company president Pedro Ferrer Bosch and his son were kidnapped and killed.

However, Pedro's widow, Dolores, rallied the troops and put together a juggernaut. Her Spanish sparklers reached the U.S.A. in 1972, seven years prior to her retirement. Before long American sales were over a million cases a year. Here's the latest of the company's bubblies to reach our shores.


The Wine

Jose & Gloria Ferrer
Freixenet President Jose Ferrer (Dolores' son) and his wife Gloria.
Freixenet Spumante
Price—$10 range
The Label: "CAVA"—The word means "cave" in Spanish; it means "fermented in the bottle" in the Spanish wine industry. Cava wines may be made only from native Catalonia grapes, which give this Spumante a unique charm. The flavors are a bit sharper than the Italian Muscat Spumanti.
Rating—RECOMMENDED in its price range, particularly for large, holiday parties when a touch of sweetness is good.
Contact—Paige Poulos, phone (800) 497-3376.


Postscript

A further tribute to the widow Dolores. During her tenure Freixenet reduced costs by inventing the Girosol ("sunflower" in Spanish). Computer-controlled, it shakes and rotates 504 bottles of bubbly to settle the sediment, thus avoiding the expensve hand operation.

References:
Source: Tony Lord's New Wines of Spain.

 

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 

 

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