About The Author:

"Roger, The Wine Guy" is Roger Yazell, CWS. He is a member of the International Wine Guild and has had a long time admiration of wine. After careers in broadcasting, advertising and marketing account management, he explored his love of wine in hospitality, wholesale and retail sales. The intent of Roger's Grapevine is to share stories, history and information that will add to the reader's love, enjoyment and appreciation of wine and sake'.

Questions, requests for topics and comments are always welcome via email: rogerthewineguy@gmail.com.

(Note: The Wine Guy is currently undergoing chemotherapy and this blog will be on hiatus for the duration and into a recovery period. The Wine Guy is planning to celebrate his recovery with a trip to the two wine producing regions in Argentina and that should provide for some interesting new blogs. Meanwhile please enjoy the archives and feel free to email in the interim.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cava, Spain's Sparkling Contribution To The World of Wine!

While not entirely inaccurate, referring to Cava as the Spanish Champagne is a somewhat unfair description. This widely distributed sparkling wine shares a common method of production with the renowned French bubbly but it distinguishes itself with the utilization of its native Spanish grapes, Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo. In recent decades, it also occasionally utilizes some additions of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Suribat (a sub-varietal of Malvasia). There may be additions of Grenacha and Monastrell as well.

French Champagne traditionally relies on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as its mainstays and traces its roots to a French monk. Dom Perignon developed the production methods while on assignment from his abbot to discover why bottles of the abbey’s wine frequently exploded in the cellar. For that reason, Dom Perignon is credited with being the founder of sparkling wine despite the fact that an English scientist ((Christopher Merrett) presented a paper on creating a sparkling effect in wine years before the French monk was sent downstairs by his abbot.

There are notes of Cava wine in Spain dating back to the time of Roman and Greek visitations to the Iberian Peninsula. However, those may be a reference to fine still wines that were stored in caves. Modern commercial production of Spanish sparkling Cava is generally accredited to Josep Raventos, a descendant of the Cordorniu and Raventos wine families. Their history in Spanish wine dates to the early 1500’s. Josep, after visiting France, applied the method champenoise to native Spanish grapes and today, Cordineau, along with Freixenet (also formed with the merger of two old Spanish wine families) have alternately laid claim to being the world’s largest producer of sparkling wines. Both have worldwide distribution and followings. Freixenet, through its acquisition of other Spanish producers including Rene Barbier and Segura Viudas probably offers a greater variety of products to choose from.

Spanish Cavas have a similarity in style to Champagne but because of the different mixture of grapes, displays some differences in flavor and structure. Good aficionados of wine will recognize that Cava and Champagne are different and celebrate what each has to offer in much the same manner as they recognize the differences and celebrate the separate offerings of Left Bank and Right Bank Bordeaux. Typically, Cavas are light and crisp in style with a tendency toward nuttiness and some light floral accents. It may well find its depths of flavorful expression in Cava Rose’. Cava also has an affordability factor that has lead to its wide popularity. Not unlike their Champagne cousins, Cavas are fanciful, festive, zesty wines. They make great aperitifs, delightful bases for wine cocktails and are ideal for celebratory toasting.

Here are a few suggestive hints from The Wine Guy if you have a yen to explore the world of
Spanish Cava:

Cordorniu Classico Brut:
This is a traditional blend of the three Spanish grapes Macabeo, Parallada, and Xarel-lo. Look for apple flavoring with hints of almonds in the bouquet.

Jaume Cordorniu Brut:
Here Chardonnay is added to Macabeo and Parellada. The result is the addition of biscuity notes to green apple flavorings. Look for some nuttiness and hints of honey on the finish.

Cordorniu Pinot Noir Rosado Brut:
This is 100% Pinot Noir, a fairly modern addition to Cordorniu’s lineup of products. It has great strawberry and raspberries flavorings in a dry, crisp sparkler.

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut:
A traditional Cava and Freixenet’s first flagship export. Look for green apples laced with citrusy overtones and a crisp finish.

Freixenet Casa Sala Grand Reserva Brut Nature:
Well-aged and one of the driest Cavas (Brut Nature has no additional sugar included with the dosage utilized to initiate secondary fermentation)

Jaume Serra Cristalino Extra Dry:
Sparkling wine regulars know that Extra Dry is slightly sweeter than Brut (don’t let the name confuse you if you’re new to sparkling wine). This wine layers lemon-lime overtones on green apples and has a lingering finish. The Wine Guy usually suggests an Extra Dry as opposed to a Brut for making Mimosas.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva:
Aged in the bottle for nearly three years, this wine has a light floral nose, a mineral, yet creamy, undertone to its dried apple flavor and is accented with a spicy finish.

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad:
Noted for being an estate wine Cava and for only utilizing the first pressing of the grapes, this wine is aged up to four years. It has ripe apple flavoring accented with light citrus, peach and a sense of nuttiness on the lingering finish. It has a unique pewter edged and crested bottle, which makes it a favorite for gift giving. If you only try one Cava, make it this one.

A couple of final hints and notes:

As with all sparkling wine, the sweeter the wine, the cooler it should be served. The order of Cava from dry to sweet goes:

Brut Natural
Extra Brut
Extra Dry

Just as there pretenders to good Champagne, so are there for good Spanish Cava. 95% of Cava comes from the Penedes in Spain’s northwestern Catalunya region. Authentic Spanish Cava can be verified by the four-pointed star printed on the cork bottom.

While some Cavas are aged before release, they are very much meant to be drunk young. Do not hold for extended periods even if refrigerated.

Go ahead…find a Cava, chill it, pop the cork and enjoy the essence of Spain’s sparkling contribution to the world of wine!

No comments:

Post a Comment