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100 Years of Freixenet

Posted by on in January 2015 Editions
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This past November market the 100th anniversary of the first bottling of Freixenet, a name known as one of the world’s leading producers of sparkling wine made in the traditional méthode champenoise (and accounts for 80 percent of all cava exports). The Ferrer family has been behind the Freixenet name from the beginning and has shaped their family-owned company, the Freixenet Group, with the promise to produce and share uniquely-crafted, quality wines, and has successfully done so while utilizing innovative winemaking techniques and unique marketing strategies throughout the past century. The Ferrers’ approach in the global marketplace and emphasis on quality in all of their wines have helped mold their legacy of excellence in the United States, one which is exemplified by the recent launch of their new luxury cava, Casa Sala Grand Reserva Brut.

A vintage cava hand-crafted using century-old techniques, Casa Sala is a passion project of José Ferrer Sala, President of Honor of the Freixenet Group and has been released as a tribute to the centennial of the first bottling of Freixenet . All aspects of production are managed by hand—from harvesting by hand and manual pressing, to riddling and disgorgement.

The Casa Sala Winery was built on the grounds of the family estate by Joan Sala in 1901, and is where still wines for export were made until 1914, when Pere Ferrer Bosch and Dolores Sala Vivé created the first bottles of Freixenet cava there. Nowadays, the Casa Sala Winery is equipped with the latest technology. In the new biodynamic winery, we have tried to retain the best from each generation, combining ancestral techniques with the latest winemaking technologies.

The nose of the new 2005 Casa Sala is predominantly citrus, with a fine balance of green apple over a toasty backdrop. On the palate it is refreshing and well balanced, with delightful hints of pastries and newly baked bread combining elegantly with fine fruit flavors and a beautifully structured sparkle.

With an unshakeable belief in the potential of cava, Freixenet became one of the first Spanish companies to embrace the international marketplace, opening its first office in the United States in 1935 and quickly establishing distribution in many other countries around the world. Breaking ground in the realm of packaging, José Ferrer developed the distinctive frosted black bottle for Freixenet’s signature Cordon Negro cava well before customized glass packaging or the use of opaque bottles was common.

In production, Freixenet has consistently been on the forefront of winemaking innovation, often borrowing and adapting technology from other industries in an effort to enhance quality in all of their wines. Freixenet established the first temperature controlled fermentation facility in Spain, which is also the largest in Europe. In their yeast cultivation, Freixenet has adapted biomass control technology used by the European Space Agency and NASA. The company has also signed an agreement with the private firm NTE (New Space Technologies) to implement controls for their cultivation rooms that allow them instantaneous measurement of the number of viable yeasts in a culture medium, which is invaluable information to guarantee proper fermentation. Freixenet has developed new filtration systems using braided stainless steel, which omits the need to add clarifying compounds. This not only respects the integrity of the wine, but also helps to protect the environment by reducing residual waste.

For a century, attention to quality has been the single most important element to the Ferrer family’s success in winemaking, underlined by a penchant for innovative thinking and creativity. Today the Ferrer family holds full or majority ownership in 18 estates located in prominent wine regions in seven countries around the world and sells more than 160 sparkling and still wines worldwide. Whether for their widely-distributed wines like Cordon Negro or their small-production artisanal wines like Casa Sala, the Ferrer family ensures the utmost care throughout the winemaking process.

Friexenet also continues to stay loyal to the Ferrer family legacy, as the company is currently run by the third generation of Ferrers, and the fourth generation is now becoming active in the company as well. José Ferrer Sala, who celebrated his 89th birthday in 2014, remains involved in the company he was instrumental in building, while his sons and nephews cultivate the company’s plans for the future.

 

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Steve is the Publisher of the Maryland & Washington, DC Beverage Journals (trade publications serving the licensed beverage industries of said markets).