Can Rafols de las Caus.

For those of you who followed the road from Barcelona to Begas and beyond there are a number of pleasant surprises on your way to Penedès.
First stop is Olesa de Bonesvalls, site of a 12th century medieval hospital and an attractive old town.. Olesa to be honest isn’t a historic reserve. Being this close to Barcelona means that everyone from taxi drivers to dentists have a second home out here, everything from a loveable shack decorated with a dozen job end lots to some extraordinary, gravity defeating, …my best friend was a designer/archietect testimonies to the new rich.. In between lie the more conventional later built normal second and now first homes of the metropolis with the odd bit of historic leftovers acting as foundation or background. The old part of the town is hidden on the left side of the road to Penedès.
The good news is all the bike traveller requires is here. History, comfy accommodation, a tastefully decorated cottage restaurant, furniture restoration workshop, a nice neighbourly atmosphere and trails into the Garraf Nature Park that will keep any mountain-biker entertained for months.
The Hospital of Cervello, one of the first medieval hospitals, was built in the 13th century by Guillem de Cervell to serve pilgrims on their route to Vilafranca and the monestaries of Santes Creus and Poblet.
The 13th Century church of Santa Maria de la Hospital supports the remains of a much older sculpture whose character is probably of Greek origin, A Medusa in the form of a snake haired monster with powers to petrify any unwanted visitors. If you survive un-petrified you should visit Joan Manzano who specialises in furniture restoration, 18th century English and Catalan bureaus, comodes and chests of drawers. Joan’s door is usually open and he will delight in showing you his work and home. Can Bicicleta, a stone’s throw from the hospital, offers tasteful and comfortable accommodation, perfect for the family or group of bikers, ask for Joana. The name of the house refers to an earlier member of the family who cycled often and had the character of…a bicycle. Perhaps another long lost reader of “The Third Policeman”
“El Raco” situated on the main road offers good food and a pleasant intimate atmosphere for a meal or refreshing drink.

The road that continues towards Aviño Nou as it curves and swoops through the Garraf park, past pine forests and the first sparse vineyards that indicate you are nearing Penedes and Can Ràfols dels Caus. It is these small groves of vines, growing on near infertile lime soil, impregnated with million year old sea fossils that give rise to the wines of Can Rafols.
Can Rafols dels Caus is one of those very old estates that rarely talks about the past but concentrates on the vitality and interest of its present custodian Carles Esteve and his mission to create great wines.
There are over 15 differnet old and new varieties of grape cultivated, the rarest being “Manzoni” an Italian cross between Pinot Blanc and Reisling, of which there are about 8 hectacres in the whole of world. These varieties are used as an artists pallet to create very individual wines. I tasted an 8 year old bottle of Gran Caus white wine which was able to intrigue, distract and entertain. Production or lack of it, is in the region of 3,000 bottles per year in the case of the exotic Caus Lubis.
Slow careful perfection of an original dream, far too slow for the stressful majority, is also invested in the renovation of the house and its surroundings. I personally will settle for the kitchen, in the heart of the house, between the oldest cellars and the cool, airy and relaxed living area. Visit and you will understand why.
Next month: Your first views of Montserrat and the Plains of Penedès.

What’s on in June, August
Gospel singers, jazz, Auditorium Pau Casals, Vendrell
Practice your dance steps and devil fleeing skills. Festa Majors by the barrel-load every weekend with the grandmother of them all in Vilafranca del Penedès, last weekend of August:
Cheers Paddy Mannion