Catalan trio! Part I: Jean Leon

Еven on a stage of planning my trip to Barcelona I was absolutely sure that I would never leave the place without visiting a couple of wineries. I was lucky to see three of them and all in one day

Waking up at 7 am on vacation? No problem! You are ready to make such huge sacrifices for the things you love. I knew that beforehand while booking a tour that included visiting three wineries in one day. And once I heard a wake up call in the morning, I jumped out of the bed and quickly got ready for a trip.

By 8 am I’ve already found myself near central Corte Inglés store in Barcelona from where our sleepy team of enthusiastic wine lovers departed towards Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, the main wine-making area of the region. Such an early morning forced some of my fellow travellers to cheer them up with a hot coffee and some used something even stronger (that lead to certain consequences – I’ll write about it later).

Every time meeting our sleepy faces our tour guide, a very energetic and charismatic basque, did his best in trying to entertain us with stories about wine making, types of wine, their pairing with food and that the majority of local people were dealing with wine. An hour later we saw a Jean Leon winery on the horizon, the first one in our list.

Having got out slowly of the bus, we found ourselves in a wonderful place where gentle morning sun was warming our half-sleepy bodies, and where picturesquely scattered vineyards were lying on the hills in front of us

Now Jean Leon belongs to the Miguel Torres empire and is run by his daughter, but it was founded by an extremely remarkable person, a self-made man, as the Americans would say. In fact, Jean Leon’s life story is so bright and extraordinary that it worth being immortalized in a movie.

Born in Spain in 1929, Cefferino Carion (and that is his real name) as a young man lost his father and brother. This tragedy forced him to leave the country and to start all over again on the another continent, in America. There he changed his name to Jean Leon (as locals couldn’t pronounce his real name), joined the USA Army during their was in Korea having been granted the citizenship for that. Later in Los Angeles he tried unsuccessfully to become an actor working as a driver or waiter to earn some money. That’s when he got a job in a restaurant owned by Frank Sinatra and Joe Di Maggio and where he became friends with many Hollywood actors including James Dean. Together they opened La Scala restaurant in Beverly Hills that became extremely popular among Hollywood elite and after a while became rather profitable

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With a little money that he managed to save, in 1963 Jean Leon decided to buy a vineyard in his home country of Spain, in that same area where we standing and listening to the guide. Uprooting the old vines he replaced them with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay that were popular in America. He also divided the whole vineyard into several small plots to grow different grape varieties separately and to make wine from each variety separately. The concept of separate vineyard long before it was adopted in the region was revolutionary!

Just before his death in 1994 Jean Leon sold his company to Miguel Torres. And in 2013, at that same year when we were at the winery, it celebrated its 50th anniversary

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After such an impressive story about a legendary founder of the company, a real brand, we were invited to walk around the vineyards where we could not only take photos but also taste different grapes straight from the vines! Legally I did it for the first time 🙂

I decided to make a selfie in front of a syrah grape as I’m very fond of wines from this grape variety. And everybody is aware about it

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“Well, now it is time to taste some wine!” A door to the tasting room swung open invitingly. I looked at my watch: it was 10 am. Nice start of the day!

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Tasting of thick and rich Cabernet Sauvignon in the morning requires a lot of concentration, stamina and experience

With a glass of thick and powerful Cabernet in one hand, people were helping themselves with local snacks, and chattering voices became louder as the alcohol level in their blood increased. I used this opportunity to have a chat with our guide who knew a lot about local wines and aspects of wine-making. In a winery store at the exit I picked up a bottle of La Scala Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 that happened to be one of the best among those that I’ve tasted! By the way, the vineyard where Cabernet Sauvignon grows is named after the restaurant 🙂 Actually all vineyards (and all wines, subsequently) have their own names – check out on the website.

After a bite and a drink we loaded up in a bus in order to be headed towards Miguel Torres winery

To be continued…

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