In the cellar at El Celler de Can Roca

Gerona, Spain

El Celler de Can Roca Restaurant, Gerona, Spain

There is Joan the chef, Jordi the pastry chef and Josep the sommelier.

Together, the three brothers have turned the inn founded by their parents into one of the most famous restaurants in the world, whilst their parents continue to manage their own no-frills restaurant serving a set menu for €15.

El Celler de Can Roca garnered three Michelin stars in 2009 – and has never lost them – even winning the prestigious title of Best Restaurant in the World in the World’s 50 Best in 2013 and then again in 2015.

Josep Roca’s oldest memory is of the person filling bottles of wine from the barrels stored in the family-owned restaurant. In fact, at the age of just 5, he also began taking part in the ritual. This led to a fascination with wine that has stayed with him to this day. In 2022, the English magazine Restaurant crowned him the World’s Best Sommelier.

Wine glass art work

A cathedral-like wine cellar

“The cellar has a footprint of 280m2 with two adjacent warehouses where over 4,000 different listings and 85,000 bottles of wine are stored. It is located in a part of the restaurant divided into five areas, just like the apses of a church dedicated to the appellations I value the most – Champagne, Burgundy, the German wine regions, Priorat and Jerez”.

Setting the scene

In the cellar at El Celler de Can Roca, the photos hanging on the wall, video projections and music playing give the senses a real wake-up call. This is no accident. Josep Roca likes to think that wine is an introduction to the intangible, to the conversation struck up between nature and humans. He also aims to depict the values of work in the vineyards – courage and determination.

One precious bottle is over 200 years old

“The oldest bottle dates back to 1805 and is therefore a contemporary of the Battle of Trafalgar. It comes from Jerez. There is also a bottle containing a ‘mother’ from 1860. It was gifted to me when my son Marti was born in 1999 by friends in the Empordà region – the Serra family in the village of Cantallops. For me, a bottle with this kind of history is very meaningful of what wine is, and that is life and sharing with others down through the generations”.

If there was just one wine…

For Josep Roca, it would have to be a Cariñena, “a rustic wine, slightly introvert but generous with ancient roots and an intense sappy feel”. But if El Celler de Can Roca were a wine, it would be a Cava, “a second-generation wine blended from three native grape varieties – Xarel-lo, Parellada and Maccabeu”. Joan would be the Xarel-lo grape, the linchpin of the blend, Jordi would be Parellada, fresh, light and vibrant, and Josep would be the more muscular, more enveloping Maccabeu. It would have been aged on the lees and left to mature.

The iconic wine

This wine is a Palo Cortado by Gonzalez Byass from a special cask reserved in 1986 for El Celler de Can Roca. The wine was served one day with liver nougat with hazelnuts and truffle, the dish which was the first to emerge from the fusion of Joan’s savoury cuisine and Jordi’s sweet pastries.

El Celler de Can Roca

Carrer de Can Sunyer, 48, 17007 Gerona (Spain)
+34 972 22 21 57 - cellercanroca.com

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