DURING an intimate dinner of Spanish delicacies, Freixenet CEO Jose Maria Ferrer and head winemaker Judith Llop waxed lyrical about their wines served in the exclusive La Fiesta restaurant at Sky Avenue, Resorts World Genting.
The Freixenet group has 23 wineries around the world, with eight of them specialising in its globally-renowned sparkling Spanish wine, also known as cava.
Cava is produced in the traditional method similar to champagne. The wine starts off being made like regular wine, but after being bottled, the process continues with a second fermentation taking place inside the bottle.
According to Ferrer, that is the best way to produce quality sparkling wine, as opposed to the carbonation method used in sodas, or a second fermentation that takes place in a tank.
He added that the much-loved bubbly characteristic of cava takes time. “The cava is aged for more than 15 months, and that gives you more bubbles, a very long aftertaste, and bubbles that last for a long time in the glass.”
And what better place to showcase Freixenet’s cava than at the La Fiesta. The restaurant is the brainchild of Resorts World Genting senior vice president of hotel operations Datuk Edward Holloway, who decided to introduce a tapas-style restaurant that would appeal to a younger crowd.
Holloway, who was also present that night, said that his choice of working with the Freixenet group was purely coincidental.
“It started with a handshake, by chance, when one of my people from F&B (food and beverage) introduced us, and from there, three weeks later, we were hugging [and] getting married!”
The partnership was solidified further when Holloway flew over to Barcelona to “intellectually absorb all things Spanish”, before embarking on La Fiesta. “Now, we have a really good relationship because of the assistance and collaboration, [so] we feature most of our wines from Freixenet.”
Guests that night were first treated to a pre-cocktail of pickled & salted anchovies, toasted bread with olive oil infused tomato spread, marinated olives, and an array of cold cuts and cheese to accompany the Segura Viudas, D.O. cava.
“Segura Viudas is our premium cava that we are trying to sell only in known premises, only in high-end venues, in restaurants that can give prestige to the brand, [that’s why], it is in this wonderful place like La Fiesta,” said Ferrer.
Under the warm glow of orange lights of the Catalan-inspired eatery, a specially-crafted wine dinner showcasing the best of both Freixenet and La Fiesta was served to guests.
First up were mixed Iberico cuts, comprising ham, chorizo, and thinly-sliced sausage, served with a young white Vionta Albarino. Meanwhile, garlicky prawns poached in olive oil, and sous-vide octopus with paprika potatoes complemented the delightful Morlanda Garnache Blanca.
The heartier and more flavourful dishes like spicy chorizo in red wine reduction, succulent pan-seared Iberico pork shoulder, and pork and chicken paella, were paired with rich reds – Mas de Subira Garnacha Tinta, Orube Crianza Tempranillo, and Morlanda Garnache Tinta, respectively.
Dessert came in the form of Crema Catalana, a creamy caramelised custard cream with hints of cinnamon and satisfying crunch from the burnt sugar.
Llop, head winemaker in two of Freixenet group’s wineries in the Priorat region, prefers to experiment with new technology while incorporating ancient traditions of winemaking to constantly improve on quality.
When she was diagnosed with an ailing immune system due to recurring health problems and a hectic schedule, Llop says that her recovery after being prescribed probiotics spurred her to look into incorporating biotechnology into the winery.
“I discovered that in some places around the world, probiotics were used in agriculture … working the same way to increase the immune system of the plants,” explains Llop.
She soon contacted one of the best companies specialising in probiotics for agriculture that also works for wineries, from Kansas, in the US, to learn more about the topic.
And in the last five years, Llop says positive indication from the usage of probiotics in the soil has been noticeable.
“We have seen, for example, we didn’t have bees – and we didn’t realise that we didn’t have bees in our winery,” she elaborates. “Just two years ago, the bees came back. It’s just a small signal that something is happening and I’m pretty proud of this.”
For more on La Fiesta offerings, visit the Resorts World Genting website.