Among the streets of the Born district is this bar with a French spirit, which makes natural wines its main star. An ideal place to enjoy a good drink in good company.
On that night we were looking for a place to have a drink. Then, Simone said: “Let’s go to L’Ànima del Vi”. We hadn’t been there before, but he knew it and knew what he was talking about. It is a beautiful corner of the Born where you can drink some good wines.
He didn’t need to say more, we were already convinced. And we crossed Via Laietana, to enter the world of narrow streets of the Born.
There it was, a few meters from Carrer de L’Argenteria, in Vigatans. A bar of those that we like: wooden door, barrel at the entrance, marble tables, a bar at the back and bottles.
Bottles of all sizes, shapes and colors, that filled the walls. On a blackboard, on the bar, the proposals for tapas and appetizers. And all over the place, a mix of old winery with French bistrot that we loved.
L’Anima del Vi was packed.
It was Friday and the night had just begun, but there were almost no empty tables. We found a free one, with a lot of luck, and we went for it.
The atmosphere was ideal. Groups of friends, couples, people at the bar, and glasses in some cases and bottles of wine to share in others, which were enjoyed at each table.
It was time to order and since we did not know what particular wine we wanted to try, they advised us according to our tastes and desire for that night.
Two full-bodied reds for the boys, a fruity white for the girl. And something to eat, we were on an empty stomach and it was good to accompany the glass with something delicious.
We chose some olives and a portion of ham from the blackboard. And it must be said: nothing we tried that night disappointed us. Quite the contrary: everything they put on our table was a pleasure for the palate.
The variety of olives was great and the ham… well, the ham was delicious. And cut so fine! The perfect accompaniment to the glasses of wine that we savor with pleasure, in that atmosphere so relaxed and cheerful at the same time. A place where we could spend hours, between talks and toasts.
From France with love
In 2006 L’Anima del Vi opened in Barcelona. It is a project born from the wishes of its owners Núria and Benoît to set up a bar (he, a student of oenology and viticulture; and she, a musician and viola teacher).
France was the place where they met and were united by the love of gastronomy and wines, they decided to give life to this project that remains firm and recognized in the old part of the city.
But L’Anima del Vi is not just another bar where you can have a glass of wine. The key difference of this proposal lies in creating a space to enjoy the so-called “natural wines”.
Each bottle that is opened in this place comes from producers, both French and Spanish, who are dedicated to making wines from the fermentation of grape juice, and nothing else
As they say on their own website, “the vast majority of our wines are made from grapes collected by hand, from voluntarily limited yields and from an agriculture that rejects any type of herbicide, phytosanitary products or synthetic chemical fertilizers”.
The result: a natural wine born from a healthy and balanced grape.
Without resorting to distributors, the owners seek direct contact with the producer and take care of such important details as transport from the winery to the premises.
Even inside L’Anima del Vi, the air conditioning is kept at a certain temperature to take care of the quality of the wines stored within its walls at all times.
And so much care, so much care and attention are appreciated.
One notices, just by entering, that this is a place where the quality of the product is valued and also, the customer experience. A space where everything does matter.
The idea of its owners is clear and they know how to transmit it to those who visit their bar.
Having a wine at L’Ànima del Vi is much more than that: it is a cozy and intimate space, where you can get closer to the experience of enjoying the authentic and alive which comes from the land and with lots of quality.
Before or after a good glass of wine at L’Anima del Vi, do not miss one of the “carassas” that are preserved in the neighborhood. If you want to know what a carasa is and its history, check out this article.
This is a cocktail bar specialized in gin-tonics that we met one day in the heart of the Gràcia neighborhood, and that stands out for its cozy and elegant atmosphere, for the variety of products but, above all, for a warm and personalized service that makes you come back again and again.
It was during Mariela’s first birthday in Barcelona. We were visited by Ariel, a friend who lives in Argentina, and we went out to celebrate in the streets of Gràcia, our neighborhood in those days.
Towards the end of the night, we were looking forward to one more toast and Elephantaappeared in front of us: a small place, with dim lighting, comfy chairs, low tables and a relaxed atmosphere with good background music to continue talking with whoever is with you.
Special paragraph for the bar: situated at the end of the room, full of different colored jars and bottles that called us to get closer and order a gin-tonic. So we went in, tried it and it didn’t disappoint.
Because not only is the place attractive, but the people who serve you are super friendly and the cocktails are great.
So we came back. And we presented the place to more friends. And it even became a “tradition” with some of them: every year, when our dear friends Tony Sersale (amazing music and singer, listen to Tritón for example) and Lucre visit us, there is always a night at Elephanta, with those glasses that we like so much.
One of those nights…
On one of those nights, we sat at the bar. We had arrived at a critical time and the place was packed, with groups of friends and couples, like us, looking for a drink after dinner.
And those stools at the bar that we were able to sit on allowed us to meet Pau, one of Elephanta’s bartenders. We have already said this before, but in case you are just getting to know us, I tell you that we are talkative people. Especially if there is atmosphere and a few drinks to accompany.
So, we started talking to Pau, obviously about gins.
Varieties, aromas, different distillations, rarities, pairings… He showed us a world that we barely knew, and made us feel so comfortable and welcome, that we fell in love.
And it’s not that we were lucky that day, and Pau was just in a good mood.
Nope. It’s always like that.
Because those who work at Elephanta are passionate about what they do, friendly and professional people, who want you to not only have a good drink, they want you to also have a unique experience.
And then of course you come back. Needless to say, it worked with us.
The “birth of the elephant”
It was in 2008 that Elephanta opened its doors as a cocktail bar.
Its owner, Nuria, was coming back from a trip to Latin America and had decided to change course in her working life. In that new search, she opened this cocktail bar, inheriting the name of the tearoom that used to be right there. And while Elephanta initially served the typical variety of alcoholic beverages, it was Nuria who thought of prioritizing gins, long before they became fashionable everywhere.
When the gin-tonic fever was getting higher, Elephanta already had its little place in the nights of Barcelona, and it finished establishing itself as a benchmark in the world of gin.
In 2014, the renovation of the premises arrived, to finish giving its identity: a small, warm, intimate, elegant space. And people never stopped coming in since.
If you are a knowledgeable and a great gin-tonic taster, this is your bar. And just so you don’t get bored, they offer you the opportunity to try something new, renewing their menu often. They also offer a new gin every month, so do not hesitate to ask for it because it is usually out of the menu and always worth it.
And if you don’t know anything about gin-tonics, you have hardly tried them and you have no idea where to start, this is also your bar. You will always have the best recommendations, they will know how to guide you, taking into account your tastes and we recommend you trust the staff of Elephanta, because they know what they are talking about.
Even if you can’t decide on any of the drinks, they have an alternative: a tasting of 3 different gins. No worries, that is not 3 measures of gin: it is 1 measure, divided into 3 different proposals. And, as Pau has told us, it is the best way to take risks and try something new.
If you are one of those who like to discover new places, cozy, beautiful, with a good proposal and a great vibe, Elephanta is your next bar. Who knows, maybe we meet there sometime. Because as I already told you, we always come back.
When you visit Elephanta, and you have already enjoyed both its hospitality and its delicious cocktails, do not missPlaça de la Virreina, it is close and you will like it.
Here is the information for you to find the place when you are in the Gràcia Quarter:
A glass of bubbly, golden, cold and delicious “cava” is not just a drink that you can enjoy on any terrace in Barcelona. Because as you know (and if you do not know, we will tell you) it’s very difficult to walk around the city and not find a bar with its own terrace.
You will also see that these terraces are always full of people sitting and drinking something. Because the life of Barcelona (and this applies to all of Spain), is in its bars. It is common for us to meet at a bar for a drink after work, before we get home and finish the day.
It is part of the daily routine. One, which did not cost us anything to adapt to.
And although beer is the big star of all bars, in Catalonia you will find many people drinking what most of us buy (generally), only for big occasions or for New Year’s eve: a good glass of “cava”.
Also, if you pay attention, you will see people having their glass almost at breakfast. No matter the time of the day, or the occasion. It is always a good time for a “cava”. That is why we assure you that “cava” in this part of the country is not just another drink.
A LONG TIME AGO…
Catalonia has a history of more than a century with this sparkling wine and, although today its production is not exclusive to these lands, it is here where it was born at the end of the 19th century.
These lands have been vineyards since Roman times, so many things have happened since the region began producing wine. But the great development of this industry occurs in the Middle Ages, and in the 11th and 12th centuries the first vineyards appeared in Penedès.
Why is the Penedès region important?
Because this is where the cava will has its origin, and nowadays it is one of the most important areas in terms of wine production; in addition to being the protagonist of a huge and continuous development of wine tourism.
For a long time, wine production was increasing and reached one of its highest points in the 17th century. During the same years, in France, specifically in the Champagne region, they decided to bottle the wine shortly after the first fermentation, thus making the second fermentation take place inside the bottle.
THE RESULT: BUBBLES! AND SOME CATALAN CHANGES.
The result of this form of fermentation were the bubbles that are so characteristic, and despite some initial failures, they found their way around so that champagne became an accepted and recognized drink. This way of producing the new sparkling wine is known as the traditional or champenoise method.
In Catalonia they begin try this new technique during the 19th century, particularly in the Penedès region. Thanks to the promotion of thel Instituto Agrícola Catalán de San Isidro, the traditional method, created in France, was implemented, but with indigenous grapes from the area, to create a quality sparkling wine: Catalan champagne.
By 1872 the first bottles were already being produced and, soonly after, many wineries in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, today’s Capital of Cava, began manufacture it.
But not everything that comes from France is so good: in 1887, the phylloxera plague, which had already passed through the neighboring country, attacks Catalan crops and devastates hectares of production. In any case “every cloud has a silver lining” say those who know, and the dreaded phylloxera forced to take action on the matter, thus beginning the investigation to find an effective solution. At that time, it was when the introduction of quality white strains was decided, to replace the red ones.
The beginning of the 20th century was a very successful time for «cava», wich gained a popularity that continued to grow and turned it into an export product. However, the name “champagne” was still used for marketing. And this did not sit well with the French.
Champagne (or champagne) responds to the sparkling wine produced in this particular region. And not just any sparkling can be called that, as it is a registred name. This led to a legal claim that would be settled in 1972, during which the name “cava” was picked for Spanish sparkling wines.
Be careful though! Not any sparkling wine can carry the title of “cava”: they must be of a certain quality, made using the traditional method, produced according to certain regulations and from a certain region.
As of today, more than one hundred and twenty municipalities from the four provinces of Catalonia, two from Zaragoza, two from Navarra, three from Álava, eighteen from La Rioja, one from Badajoz and one from Valencia are recognized as such.
SO WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A GLASS OF CAVA AND A GLASS OF CHAMPAGNE?
The first difference is crucial, and it is the type of grapes used in their production.
Cava has three varieties: Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo.
While in the French version Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are used.
Another important difference is the geographical origin.
The third has to do with the composition: the “cavas” are made with wines from the same vintage. Champagne is the mix of wines from different vintages.
And the last one: time. Cava needs between 2 and 4 years, and the champagne more than 5.
VARIETIES OF “CAVAS”
There are different varieties of “cavas”, depending on the level of sugar added:
Brut Nature: up to 3 grams of sugar per liter.
Extra Brut: up to 6 grams of sugar per liter.
Brut: up to 12 grams of sugar per liter.
Extra Seco: between 12 and 17 grams of sugar per liter.
Seco: between 17 and 32 grams of sugar per liter.
Semiseco: between 32 and 50 grams of sugar per liter.
Dulce: more than 50 grams per liter.
The aging time also counts:
A “Joven” (young) cava takes from 9 to 15 months;
a “Reserva” (reserve), from 15 to 30 months
and a “Gran Reserva” (grand reserve) exceeds 30 months.
A Joven cava takes from 9 to 15 months;
a Reserva, from 15 to 30 months
and a Gran Reserva exceeds 30 months.
A Joven cava takes from 9 to 15 months;
a Reserva, from 15 to 30 months
and a Gran Reserva exceeds 30 months.
Very well, some things are now clear to us.
First: never ask for a champagne on your trip to Barcelona its surroundings. Here we drink “cava”. Well, you can ask for champagne, it is not prohibited, but for that you have other destinations like… all of France in general and Champagne in particular.
Second: if you are a big fan of this drink or the world of wines, don’t miss the chance of paying a visit to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (perhaps the most important area producing quality “cavas”) or to other towns near Barcelona . There are many wine tourism proposals where you can taste the best “cavas”, make a tour of wineries and vineyards, and also discover beautiful landscapes.
Third and very important: Keep in mind that being in Barcelona, you don’t have to wait for anything special to happen in order to toast with a “cava”
The simple fact of being able to enjoy a city like this, deserves a glass of cava and a good toast.
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