Barcelona Weekend Getaway
After our Castle sleepover in January, we decided to do some more weekend splurging – this time in the superb cava inspired architecture of Hotel Mastinell, located in the heart of the Catalan wine country and a stone’s throw away from Barcelona.
Penedès is the equivalent of France’s Champagne’s region and has a rich wine history, having grown grapes and produced wine for millennia. It’s under the Roman rule that viticulture and winemaking flourished in the area, so it makes sense that the region is part of the Ancient Roman Wine Route.
As with champagne – which can only be called champagne if produced in a particular region and under specific conditions – all Cava producers are located in the Penedes region, smack in the midst of the Catalan wine country.
Which is great if you’re in Barcelona! Because you’ll get there in a short 45 minutes train ride from the city center.
Gaudi Vibes – Uniquely Designed Boutique Hotel
Cava & Hotel Mastinell is more than just a hotel, or a cellar, or a restaurant. They proudly offer a complete wine experience.
Perhaps one of the reasons why they’ve been listed among the 10 best wine hotels in Spain and Portugal, and in Top 30 Best Hotels in Barcelona Province according to Booking.com.
So one hour away from Barcelona, you’ll find yourself admiring the five-star modernist Cava Hotel Mastinell, surrounded by marvelous vineyards and a true wonder for your senses. All five of them.
The building itself is a sight to behold: it’s as if Gaudi’s legacy came to life in the middle of the Catalan vineyards, with undulating, ceramic mosaic roofs and the sensation of giant bottles of cavas stacked on top of each other.
The building has been awarded the gold medal in 2011 at the Shanghai International Expo of Interior Design, making it the perfect place to go for those jaded by the industrial-scale hotels, with lack of personality and intimacy.
Each of the (only) 13 rooms of this boutique luxury hotel is named after various sorts of grapes from the region and boasts a well above average 35 sq meters of intimate space, complete with the hotel’s signature round window.
We were offered the Macabeu room, named after a variety of grape particular to Catalunya, room overlooking the vineyards and greeting the sunrise in the most perfect angle. Waking up with a view like this is a good way to start the day, any day:
As for the peace & quiet of the Catalan countryside, which helps relax and unwind from the bustle of carnival-time Barcelona: we were left feeling pampered by the unobtrusive yet obliging attitude of the staff. The fact that the hotel only has 13 rooms only contributed to the feeling of bliss.
Nice marketing touch for a cava producer not normally found in stores and supermarkets, a complimentary bottle of chilled Mas Tinell cava waiting for you in the mini bar, to quench your thirst for grape nectar.
Though we had enough to drink at the drinks included dinner, and lunch, and dinner… that we ended up packing it for back home.
The En Rima Restaurant
And of course, gastronomy is at home here – in the Mastinell En Rima restaurant we just had to throw in a gastronomic wine pairing evening, since we’re in the wine land of Penedès.
While the dinner menu on our first day left me sincerely unimpressed, after trying their gastronomic menu on Friday, I can say they’ve really made a 180! Delicious everything: from the amuse bouche to the Oxtail and pumpkin cannelloni or the strawberry tatín with chocolate pearls and mint.
The restaurant is as tastefully decorated as the rest of the hotel, boasting large round windows and Gaudi style curves, in a bright and minimalistic setting.
If you’re in the mood for some extra pampering, you can always go for their unique wine-therapy session, involving relaxing in wine or cava baths.
Or expanding your sensory experience with a tour of the vineyards: on foot, by bike, horse-riding, or by hot air balloon – they will cater to all your whims.
Wine Flies When You’re Having Fun
We resumed the pampering to a wine tasting tour, which unlike anything else in Spain, started early at 9.30 AM (i know, right?!) but which we found absolutely lovely.
Between the cheery attitude of Nico and his impressive knowledge of cavas and pairing, we ended up spending two hours with him talking, cracking jokes, and of course – tasting cavas.
Nico even gave me some great tips for our upcoming cherry blossoms escapade in Extremadura (oops, spoiler alert) but I’ll talk about that in due time.
Mas Tinell is a relatively young cava and wine producer in the Catalan landscape, having started with a few hectares in 1989.
Now, their production is kept small, at around 80-100.000 bottles/ year. However, most of their cavas are significantly older than the standard on the market, with their minimum ranging from 18 to 30 months, and their grand reserves going up to 100 months or more!
The minimum gestation duration of cava in the bottle, until degorging, is 9 months – which is why they’re suggestively called mothers. And just as you don’t want to mess with a pregnant woman, you really don’t want to play with a gestating bottle of cava – one wrong move and the 6 bar pressure built inside the bottle will make it explode in a shrapnel of glass that you won’t wish even to your worst enemies.
Cava Mastinell Wine Tasting
We moved on to tasting and tried two very fine cavas and a young, fresh white wine. Nico talked a lot about the pairing, which I found particularly interesting. There are two great Spanish expressions talking about the love affair between cheese and wine. One is that wine and cheese always go well together (el vino y queso saben a beso)
And the other basically tells you that cheese is always the cheater in the relationship. If the wine is mediocre or not that great, it will definitely taste better with cheese, while a good wine will be good on its own. There are of course many subtleties to this rule, which we shan’t go into details about here.
Nico also busted once again the spoon in bottle myth – which basically says that if you insert the tail of a spoon in the bottle of cava ( or champagne), its bubbles will last longer.
Sorry to disappoint, but steel or silver won’t do anything good to your cava. You might as well drink the whole bottle in one sitting.
Getting there is easy!
By train, just jump on one of the direct regional trains from Barcelona (R4) and in less than an hour you’ll arrive in wine paradise. The Hotel is located on the outskirts of Vilafranca del Penedes, some 3 km away from the train station, and a taxi will get you there in 5 minutes and 7 euros.
So if you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a quiet weekend out of the city, or simply want to get your fix of cava & fine dining – Hotel Mastinell is your go to. You may have a significant dent in your travel budget, but it’ll be well worth the experience.