Sparkling wines are great celebration wines. Thus, today we are going to talk a little about Cava, the -quite often underrated- sparkling wine from Penedès.
Though Cava is made following the traditional Champenoise method, there are two great differences between the wines produced in the Champagne and the Penedès regions.
The first is that the grapes used to produce Champagne are usually Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and, to a lesser extent, Pinot Meunier. As for the Cava, the traditional blend is composed of Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parellada.
The second difference concerns climate. Because of insufficient sunshine, the grapes in the Champagne region rarely achieve a degree of alcohol over 9º. Thus, in order to attain the appropiate alcohol content, French winegrowers must add sugar to the wine so it can successfully complete secondary fermentation -precisely the one that transforms a still wine into a sparkling wine.
As for the Catalan sparkling wines produced mainly in the Penedès region, the grapes grown there are perfectly able, thanks to the Mediterranean sunshine, to achieve a sufficient degree of alcohol and, thus, to complete secondary fermentation without the aid of any added sugar whatsoever. This is why many Cavas are labeled Brut Nature, which means that the wine is sugar-free.
Having clarified that, here is our selection of Catalan sparkling wines to help you celebrate Christmas.
Sogas Mascaró is a Brut Nature aged for 12 months in the cellar and crafted from Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parellada. It has a clean, bright, straw yellow colour and, on the nose, it displays notes of white fruit and citrus, along with some hints of aromatic herbs and flowers. Fizzy and playful, with a fresh entrance that brings to mind notions of ripe lemons, herbs and jasmine. Long, dry and uncomplicated, it is a good wine to pair with appetizers and starters.
Vilarnau Brut Reserva Edición Gaudí is, again, made from the traditional blend of the three traditional Cava varieties. Translucent yellow with golden tinges, it smells of pastry, white fruit, wet stones, freshly-cut grass, dry fruit and liquor. The palate is quite elegant. Plums, green apples, some citrus and a dash of bitter herbs. Well-balanced and persistent. A great value.
D.G. Viticultors Brut Rosé 2011, the third wine of our selection,is a varietal Pinot Noir aged for 15 months that hasa clean, bright copper colour with golden and rosy tinges. Very vinous on the nose, the Pinot shows its character displaying notes of wild berries and pastry. Medium-bodied and fresh in the mouth, with great acidity and a long, fresh finish. To match with shrimp, paté and smoked foods.
Titiana Vintage Brut Nature 2010 is a varietal Chardonnay that, together with the previous wine, shows the French side of the Cava DO. Aged for 15 months, it has a lemon colour with golden tinges and greenish glints. On the nose, aromas of butter, baked fruit, dry fruit and fine pastry. The palate is seductive, a combination of fresh notes of white fruit and citrus, along with tasty flavours of French patisserie. Smooth and quite long, it ends on a high note.
Llopart Leopardi Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2009, one of the great Cavas produced in the Penedès region, has had its packaging redesigned and now it bears a vintage label that reproduces an old Medieval etching. Made from Macabeo, Xarel.lo, Parellada and Chardonnay and aged for 48 months, it has a straw yellow colour with golden tinges. The nose is rewardingly complex: ripe yellow fruit, orange rind, lemon pulp, dry fruit, hints of butter and aromas of white flowers. Dense and unctuous in the mouth, it has an acidity that cleans the palate and leaves it ready for the next sip. Bubbles are very well integrated and finish is very long. A first-class sparkling wine that, incidentally, will evolve wonderfully in the bottle for some years.
Finally, Giró Ribot Unplugged Brut Rosado is a blend made principally from Pinot Noir, along with tiny amounts of other varieties. A fraction of the wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, while the rest was fermented on its lees in oak barrels. After being subsequently aged for 24 months in the bottle, the wine has developed a clean, bright rosy colour with some golden tinges. On the nose, it displays notes of red berries, pineapple and mango, combined with dim aromas of vanilla, coco and pastry. In the mouth, flavours of jammy red fruit and some remembrances of tropical fruit. Body is creamy and fresh, and acidity is well-crafted. A great pairing with seafood, rice dishes and cold meats.
Until our next post.