interview

François Chartier: “D.O. CAVA have a huge quality reputation outside of Spain”

INTERVIEW WITH FRANÇOIS CHARTIER

| 24/01/2020 a les 09:17h
Arxivat a: Entrevistes, François Chartier, Cava, DO Cava, Escumosos
François Chartier is regarded internationally as one of the pioneering researchers in terms of recipe creation and wine and food harmonies. Robert Parker says he is “Pure genius!”, while Ferran Adrià and Juli Soler qualify him as “the number one expert on flavors”. Since winning the prestigious Best Sommelier in the World award in 1994 (Grand Prix Sopexa, Paris), François never ceased renewing himself and relentlessly pursuing his research. He published the first results of his research in ‘aromatic harmonies and sommelerie’ – discipline he created in 2004 – in his book ‘Papilles et Molécules’ (Taste buds and Molecules). In 2010, the book was awarded Best Innovative CookBook in the World, at the Gourmand World CookBook Awards in Paris. Consultant for some of the greatest chefs in the world, including Ferran Adrià of the famous elBulli Restaurant, where he collaborated in creating many of the dishes on the 2009 and 2010 menus, Chartier’s aromatic science never ceases to turn heads.

The DO Cava sets itself an ambitious purpose. We want to show scientifically that cava is an ideal wine to accompany the flavours of the world and create perfect harmonies, not only with a single dish but with a complete menu, both on special occasions and on a daily basis. For this reason, it has teamed up with Canadian scientist and sommelier Francois Chartier. It is a high-level and rigorous collaboration that the Cava Regulatory Council undertakes to spread the virtues of cava, and seeks to endorse the quality of cava “as a sparkling wine that can create universal harmonies, to blend in perfectly with the myriad flavors of the world”. Cupatges wanted to interview François Chartier about this pioneering work and the current situation of the DO Cava.
 

How can the suitability of cava be scientifically demonstrated with the flavors of the world?
 
By analyzing the aromatic profil (dominant molecules) of each type of CAVA D.O., and by matching this reasearch with my aromatic science of Molecular Harmonies, published in the book ‘Papilas y Moleculas’, we had create a map of the best matching with CAVA D.O. and the world cuisine and food. This is a world premier in wine industry: generating the best possible matching food with a D.O. wine region, by using a scientific approache. The CAVA D.O. is a sort of pionner figure by asking me this deep research. It show how the CAVA D.O. is moving in the futur.
 
How will you elaborate the molecular profiles of the different types of cava?
 
For this work of molecular analysis of the different types of Cava, I first carried out summary of the different general aromatic profiles of the different types of cava. Subsequently, once the standard aromatic profiles were well defined, an analysis of the dominant molecules of each of the Cava types was carried out, using my data following analyzes by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC – MS), as well as via the existing scientific literature of laboratories with which I have collaborated since 2002.
Once the dominant molecules of each of the types of cava were targeted, using the aromatic science of molecular harmonies (created in 2002 and published in the book Papilas y Moleculas), with the help of my team, especially my partner/associate Isabelle Moren, and the sommelier-collaborator Nicolas Roché, I carried out an exhaustive research of the ingredients (food and drinks) containing these same dominant molecules, in order to identify the ingredients complementary to each of the categories of Cava.
 
Are there perfect harmonies?
 
Oh yes! Infact they are many perfect harmonies.
 
Here’s en example :
In the Cavas de Paraje, one of the molecules we find is the "benzenemethanethiol". This molecule, which smells, among others, cooked apple, is present in more products in the world such as: dried apricot, cinnamon, mushrooms, cloves, nuts, vanilla ... And as science says: “yes Two ingredients (liquid or solid) share the same molecule, the effect of aromatic synergy will be created and an aromatic pairing made: 1 + 1 = 3 “The result is larger than the sum of the parts”.
 
Where does the magic alchemy between cava and world gastronomy reside?
 
In many ways… But let’s say for example: We know now that when serving a glass of D.O. CAVA, they are more or less two million bubbles are released. When you put your nose in the glass, the explosion of bubbles on the surface releases tiny droplets both on the face and in the nose, including a multitude of aromatic molecules. Then, when you bring the glass to your mouth, the bubbles will define the presence (volume) of the wine by activating certain receptors on the taste buds, including those of carbon dioxide (CO2), which in turn will connect to the areas of excitement in the brain - more specifically the nucleus accumbens, which is part of the brain which reacts to euphoric stimuli, such as sex and drugs, and plays an important role in reward, pleasure, dependence, fear ...)
The analysis of the chemical structure of the bubbles of D.O. CAVA clearly shows that the surface of the bubbles is loaded with surfactant molecules, hundreds of which are aromatic particles, therefore molecules, or more simply aromas.
 
What image of cava do you think is perceived in the cava markets?
 
I’m traveling around the world since 35 years, and over the lest 10 years, D.O. CAVA wines became so popular among the spakling wines category, witch became a huge buzz in the sommeliers world. People looking for bibbles more then ever. And D.O. CAVA have a huge quality reputation outside of Spain, especially in North America, Australia and Japan.
 
At tables or in stores, does the consumer really know what a cava is and what it is not. Is the consumer disoriented with this climate of splits?
 

Again, outside Spain, in the consumer day to day live, there’s no much talking about internally changes in CAVA D.O. What consumers know is that D.O. CAVA is synonymous with a quality sparkling wines from Spain, offer at a very good price generally. As Spanish gastronomy is blooming everywhere in the world, D.O. CAVA wines take advantage of that tapas sharing style gastronomy. And consumers know it. And love it.
 
Do you think that this crisis is also an opportunity to refound the PDO Cava?
 
Each crisis, like adolescente living… it’s a healty sign. Its mean your alive! So after crisis, adolescent become adult. So, CAVA D.O. is now going on is adult live, for the better.
 
As a sommelier, what arguments do you think are the main virtues to recommend a cava?
 
-Quality!
-Competitive price compare to other sparkling wines.
-And matching with food and world cuisine so large possibilities.
 
Do you think that sparkling quality Catalan, globally, have the qualities required becoming world-class wines? In what aspects do they have room for improvement?
 
-In my book, CAVA D.O. are already world-class wines. They are already in top 3 stars Michelin and TOP 50 world best restaurants wines list. Each top wines shop in NYC, Tokyo, London, Paris or Dubai sold CAVA D.O. wines. Is there space for improvement? For sure. Even world-class wines region like Priorat, Rioja, Bordeaux or Napa Valley still have space for improvement. Knowledge is evolving at lite speed those days, so improvement is also.
 

And the youth? They are spoken of as the pending subject. How should they be attracted to?
 
They is a false debate I think. Why ? Because the youth of Spain dont react about wine as the youth from Canada, or Japan, or Mexico. It’s not about youth. It’s about   sustainability of wine culture from generation to generatyion, link to the wine culture of each market. Spain is a wine production country. So the youth has always seen wines on the table of their parents and grand parents. This is not the case like young country like Canada or Japan, where the wines is not produced (there’s wines production in Canada and Japan, but this is a new culture). So In Canada and Japan, young people like to drink wine instead of beer or spirits because it’s cool. For spanish young people, wine is not cool, it’s a parent old habit… So the approache to get them like drinking wine should be completly different then the approache to canadian or japanese young generation.
 
Do you think it is necessary to associate cava more with the gastronomic world and that of? Foodies’?
 
It is already a gastronomic product in the mind of Foodies. But, as the gastronomic culture is getting now a popular trend, meanstream, CAVA D.O. need more then ever to be link to the pleasure of gastronomy. The young generation (20-30 years old more or less) are now partying in the kitchen. Doing tapas party. Everywhere in the world, from Paris to San Francisco, from Mexico to Vancouver, from Boston to Sao Paolo. So, they need more and more information about how to match the different type of CAVA D.O. with food. They need recipes to match with CAVA D.O.. Recipes are the most southafter in research engine on the web. Recipes books are selling crazy in books stores. TV Food show are blooming everywhere! Only in Quebec Province in Canda, they are over 400 food shows !!! Food is the most important fact of life now. We arte getting in a digital world, so we need more then ever to be organicly connected with familly and friend, and the most powerfull time to get organic in our life is the food time. World wide huge company like Sony are inversting now in food and gastronomy. Some neigboorhood of Tokyo, like Nihonbashi, are being revival with gastronomy has urban plan. EWe talk here of billions of dollars invetsment in urban plan to revitalized huge neirbohhod by using gastronomy as pole of attraction. So if CAVA D.O. need to be more gastronomic? You get the answer!
 
Do you think that the consumer needs more culture to ask for cavas or that it is necessary to communicate a message that goes to the essentials to gain followers?

 
I think my previous answers are clear: yes we need more and more message to get the CAVA D.O. in the glass of consumers. And the main message should be the one of food, gastronomy, sharing life with family and friends…
 
What do you think of the Premium categories of Cava as an element of prestige? And the new steps to zoning and segmenting the cava?

 
Premium categories are important in all D.O., because they are the one that make wines critics communicated. So at the end, better is the Premium Category of a D.O., more the consumer will be reading about the D.O., and at the end they will be more possibilities that the consumers will one day buy a wine of that D.O. Same thing with the zoning segmentation of a D.O. It is a very good sign of health! That’s mean the wine producers recognized more and more the different terroirs, the different qualities. So consumers will take advantage of that.
 
What future predicts for sparkling Spaniards?
 
Exciting futur! Why? Because the market is already huge for sparkling wines around the world, and because their is now a lot of movements in Spanish sparkling wines production. Movement means evolution. Evolution mean going for quality. Quality means a plus for consumers. And if consumers is drinking more CAVA D.O., at the end the CAVA D.O. will be arriving in is adult life.

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