Sparkling wine sales in the UK continue to boom, despite the recession, as wine drinkers have started to see sparkling wines as an everyday treat, rather than a wine for a special occasion. The current darling of the sparkling wine world may be Prosecco, but a look at the leader board in terms of market share, makes it very clear, that the number 1 brand, not only in the Cava sector, but in the entire non-champagne sparkling wine sector is Freixenet, with over 9% share of the entire market, 3% ahead of 2nd placed Martini, and almost double the share of its arch rival Codorniu.
Freixenet is a long-established brand of Cava, the generic name for sparkling wine, made in the Catalan area, of Vilafranca, close to Barcelona, by the same method as Champagne. Cava had a negative connotation in the late nineties, as a cheap alternative to quality sparkling wine. Today, the quality is high, and the reputation has grown, as both brands, and supermarket own labels have worked to increase the quality levels and perception of this fruity, approachable and, affordable sparkling wine.
The Freixenet company and brand was born in 1915, as a result of the union of 2 wine making families in Catalonia, close to Barcelona, in northern Spain, the Ferrers and the Salas, who both had established wineries in the area, including the Ferrer owned 13th century estate of La Freixeneda. The brand name came from the nickname given to Pedro Ferrer, who married Dolores Salas in 1911.
The newlyweds focussed on building the joint business between their families, and focussed on the opportunity for sparkling wine production in the regioin, using traditional grapes, but the Champagne method of secondary fermentation in bottle. In 1915, they began to sell their products, and buoyed by their success, they built new cellars in the heart of the Cava producing region, San Sadurni D’Anoia, in order to increase capacity of production and improve overall quality.
The Cava market in Spain took off, but the Spanish Civil War put paid to many opportunities for development. Pedro Ferrer was killed during the war and Dolores took over the running of the family business.
Dolores Ferrer brought her children into the business, to drive it forward, and none more so than her eldest son Jose, who joined the family business at 22, and is largely responsible for putting Freixenet on the international map today, with his forward thinking ideas, and ambitious development plans. He undertook intense research into the best methods for sparkling wine production, and the vineyard management of the grapes for these wines. He was the first to bring in pneumatic presses, to press the grapes more gently, and thus provide a fresher, fruitier style; he also did a vast amount of research into the best yeast cultures for sparkling wine development, and was the first to refrigerated vats to control the temperature during fermentation and ensure higher quality wines.
Jose Ferrer was also a marketing whizz-kid, and single-handedly developed the now iconic matt black bottle, which is one of the most eye-catching and recognisable brands on our shelves. He also created strong advertising campaigns, and this strategy has continued, both in Spain and internationally.
By the mid eighties, Freixenet was the biggest sparkling wine export brand in the world, with sales of over 200 million bottles, accounting for over half of Spanish sparkling wine production. Today the brand goes from strength to strength, and the company have added a range of still wines to the range.
What Styles Of Wine Do Freixenet Produce
Freixenet is world famous for its range of top quality sparkling wines from San Sadurni d’Anoia, in Catalonia, northern Spain, about an hour from Barcelona. The wines are produced from 3 main grape varieties, all Spanish, Parellada, Macabeo and Xarello. Occasionally a little Chardonnay is added. The wines are made by the traditional ( Champagne method), whereby the secondary fermentation, which creates the bubbles occurs in the bottle. Freixenet also now produces a range of still wines from northern Spain.
Freixenet Cordon Negro – the iconic black bottle is recognisable worldwide. With a fine mousse, fresh, tangy fragrance and lively flavours of baked apples, cream and citrus, it’s an elegant sparkler to please all palates. This is also available in baby 20cl sizes – great and stylish to drink from the bottle with a straw!
Freixenet Cordon Rosado - the pink version of Freixenet, is a dry, fruity pink fizz, bursting with ripe strawberry and raspberry flavours.
Freixenet Prosecco – Freixenet added Italian Prosecco to the range and a good thing they did. In it's stylish cut-glass bottle, which is equally if not more recognisable than the Cordon Negro, it displays classic Prosecco. Aromas of citrus, apple and flower with lemon, green apple and grapefruit bursting on the palate.
Freixenet Spanish Still Wine Collection - One of the newer ranges from freixenet features a collection of still, popular Spanish wines including Rioja, a Bobal Rose and a tropical Sauvignon Blanc.
Freixenet Ice - The Freixenet ICE range follows in the footsteps of major Champagne houses such as Moet where the perfect serve can only be done on the rocks. Yes, Sparkling wine on the rocks. They offer up a Rose and a white for the ultiamte refreshment.
Freixenet Elyssia –
Freixenet have created two top tier, ultra premium Cavas, with exquisitely elegant packaging, from grapes grown in their top estates. The Freixenet Elyssia Gran Cuvee is a blend of the traditional Macabeo and Parellada grapes, combined with the elegant Champagne classics Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Freixenet Elyssia Rose is a sophisticated dry Rose, made entirely from the velvety, aromatic Pinot Noir grape variety.
Freixenet Mia Range -
These wines explore the still and sparkling grapes of Spain with a crisp, dry white from Penedes, a rich, silky red, made from the Tempranillo grape variety in the Castilla region of northern Spain, a juicy rose made from Bobal, a rose and white sweet sparkling Moscato, a fresh Cava style sparkling, and of course, a Sangria blend.
Updated on 26th September 2023 by our resident wine expert David Andrews. Read his blog on Instagram @oinosattheoikos