Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. Time to celebrate the end of the current year as we welcome the possibilities of New Year. 2016 has been challenging in many ways. However, New Year’s Eve is a perfect time to reflect with gratitude on whatever blessings it held for us. Bubbles are, of course, a classic and poignant way to celebrate the already and the not-yet. There are so many delicious sparkling wines on the market; however, I would like to take a moment to direct your attention back to Cava.
In order to understand Cava you need a brief understanding of Champagne since Cava is crafted in the same method as Champagne. Here is a very straight forward explanation on how Champagne is made from Spanishwine.com along with a helpful infographic from Winefolly.
The method for making Champagne must be adhered to in order for a wine to be officially labelled “Champagne.” It is the “Méthode Champenoise.” This method involves allowing the wine to continue fermenting in the bottle for a period of time (months to years). During this time, the bottles are capped with crown caps (like for beer) to withstand the pressure that is building inside the bottle. The bottles are also slanted down, so the yeasts eventually settled in the neck of the bottle. When the wine is judged ready, the bottles are kept in this position with the yeasts at the neck. Through several different processes, the neck of the bottle is submerged in a freezing solution, which only freezes a few inches of the wine inside at the neck which contains the yeast. Then, with the yeasts trapped in a short plug of ice, the bottle can be turned upright without the yeast swirling into the wine. The crown cap is removed, and as the plug of ice starts to melt every so slightly, the pressure from the gas inside will actually expel the plug. Then, the winemaker can top up the wine with the same wine or can give it a dose of wine with some sugar to increase fermentation or to add sweetness. What is important to know about the Méthode Champenoise is that the bubbles in Champagne occur naturally from the wine continuing to ferment in the bottle, not from some carbonation method of adding CO2 under pressure.
Cava uses indigenous Spanish grapes as well as French grapes and can be produced in a few limited areas (DOCs) of Spain instead of just one area. The most productive Cava producing area is in northeast Spain near Barcelona in an area called Penedès. However, Cava is also produced in Rioja, Cariñena, Ribera del Guadiana and Utiel-Requena. Cava is typically not sweet and is made from any combination of the following seven grapes: Macabeau, Parellada, Xarel-lo, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Garnacha and Monastrell. As stated above, Cava is considerably less expensive than Champagne. One explanation for the price difference is Spanish winemakers have fully automated their Cava making process. The low price of Cava has at times led to over importing poor quality Cava resulting in its reputation taking a hit in the wine market and among critics. However, there are very high quality inexpensive Cavas available in the US. Furthermore, Cava is a great way to ring in the new year without breaking the bank. And if you are looking for a crowd pleaser, look no further, Cava is a highly pleasing sparkling wine.
NV Anna de Codorníu Brut Cava Catalonia Spain ($14.99): This wine was produced in the D.O. Cava region of Penedès and was crafted from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Parellada; clear pale gold; clean light aromas of grape fruit, lime zest, tropical fruit, and orchard fruit with brioche; and brioche; crisp and refreshing dry cava, silky texture with medium+ acidity in a light body with a long finish.
NV Anna de Codorníu Brut Rosé Cava Catalonia Spain ($14.99): This wine was produced in the D.O. Cava region of Penedès and was crafted from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay; clear deep pink; clean nose with pronounced aromas of red berries, savory herbs and a brioche; dry crisp light body cava, tart and refreshing On the palate this crisp and tart sparkler with high acidity and a smooth texture and loads of effervescence.
N.V. Vilarnau Brut Reserva Cava “Trencadís Edition” Catalonia Spain ($16):50% Macabeo, 35% Parellada, 15% Xarel·lo; clear pale gold with tiny persistent bubbles; clear medium intensity aromas of green orchard fruit, stone fruit, toasted hazelnuts, and dried toast; it is dry with medium+ acidity, light in body and flavor intensity, crisp, clean and refreshing, not complex but enjoyable; perfect for a New Year’s Eve toast. This is a special edition bottle featuring “trencadís” – a kind of mosaic that was used in the modernist artistic movement in Catalonia, created from tiny fragments of broken ceramic tiles, roof tiles or crockery, in many of their designs, the most famous probably being “Parc Güell in Barcelona.
*Disclaimer: These wines were sent to me as media samples with no expectations; all thoughts and opinions are my own.
My Song Selection: Please take a moment to listen to this beautiful song. Happy New Year
I wish you and yours a safe and happy New Year! Cheers!