Another year come and gone as we head into the biggest day for consuming sparkling wines. For most people, Champagne will be the wine of choice with bright stars bubbling up in the glass as we count down to the New Year. Not a bad choice either, but we’d like to offer an alternative to this traditional drink. Cava is Spain’s answer to Champagne; and while not the same thing, it does have a lot in common with this traditional holiday drink. Created in 1872 by Josep Raventos after the phylloxera plague swept throughout Western Europe, Raventos developed a dry sparkling wine in the same manner as Champagne. Using a selection of white grapes native to the north of Spain – usually consisted of Macabeo, Parallada and Xarello grapes – Cava has become a cornerstone to Spanish wine. In fact, it continues to expand and grow, revealing new manifestations of itself with every passing year. Today, Cava is not only made in the north of Spain, but all over the country, and from grapes as diverse as Monastrell, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – the latter two being traditional grapes found in Champagne.
But enough with the technical jargon. What it really comes down too is that Cava tends to be cheaper than Champagne, and though not the same, it does have a level of quality that can be, at it’s best, stunning. Interestingly, with the wide diversity of Cavas on the market today, if you have not taken the time to explore them, your really missing out on a treat.
Gabriella and I have recently tasted three of the more widely available Cavas to see what they had to show for themselves. In the end, none of them stood out as amazing, but I wouldn’t hesitate to serve any one of them at a festive New Years Eve party. All three of them, while a bit simple, had a character and quality that equaled their monetary value.
However, just to give you as much information as possible, Ryan has added on three other notes from Cavas he tasted during this past year.
Here at Catavino, we wish you all the best for the coming New Year and we look forwards to sharing new stories and adventures in the year to come!
Till then, Ryan and Gabriella
- N.V. Cordoniu Penedès Brut Anna de Codorniu – Spain, Catalunya, Penedès (12/22/2005)
Light yellow in color with small to medium bubbles. The nose shows some yeasty notes with pineapple, though overall pretty hollow. Medium sparkle on the palate with a dry finish. Creamy in the mouth with apple, yeast, and faint honey notes. Though overall this wine is a good value, it’s still a bit boring.
- N.V. Cordoniu Penedès Brut Anna de Codorniu – Spain, Catalunya, Penedès (12/27/2005)
Light delicate yellow with medium to small semi-active bubbles. Very difficult to pick out any aromas on the nose.
The palate was bland and harsh with hints of nuts, chemically apple and wood. I think it might be slightly more interesting if paired with a creamy fruit dessert, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
- N.V. Enric Nadal Rigol Penedès Nadal Brut – Spain, Catalunya, Penedès (12/22/2005)
Medium golden color. The nose shows dark honey, walnut, marzipan, and coconut. Dry in the mouth it has a fine sparkle. Flavors of yeast, light wood, melon rind, honey, and lingering on the finish a bit of raw almond.
- N.V. Enric Nadal Rigol Penedès Nadal Brut – Spain, Catalunya, Penedès (12/27/2005)
Yellow golden color. Molasses, walnut, flan, almond, coconut, yeast and cream on the nose. It’s an aroma that draws you in and makes you seek out a background scent. Extremely tantalizing. On the palate, almond with melon rind and honey. Quite brash and bold flavors. Lingering nutty finish with active bubbles. Really an interesting wine.
- N.V. Freixenet Cava Brut – Spain, Catalunya, Cava (12/22/2005)
Light golden in color with lots of medium sized bubbles. The nose is a musty mess with honey, apple and light nut aromas. On the palate it has a fine sparkle and is completely dry. Flavors of honey, green apple, with an lightly creamy texture. The finish is short with green apple lingering for a bit.
- N.V. Freixenet Cava Brut – Spain, Catalunya, Cava (12/27/2005)
Light golden yellow with oodles of small semi-active bubbles. Straw, grass and green apple on the nose with an overwhelming scent of honeycomb. Nothing outstanding but a lovely aroma. Honeycomb and green apple linger on the palate. A dry medium bodied wine that is perfect for holiday parties and casual get togethers, but nothing I would seek out for a special occasion.
- N.V. Mont Marçal Cava Semi-Seco Reserva – Spain, Castilla-La Mancha, Cava (10/30/2005)
Lightly golden with yellow hints, and medium to large bubbles. The nose is musty with creamy almond aromas and a strong presence of honey. In the bubbles are a bit big though it does have a creamy mouthfeel with only a slight sweetness. Flavors of honeycomb, citrus, and raw nuts are surrounded by a lightly earthy richness. Flavorful and enjoyable though nothing that stands out.
- 1998 Alsina & Sardá Cava Brut Nature – Spain, Catalunya, Penedès, Cava (8/14/2005)
Light honey gold with medium sized bubbles. Nose is strong of honey, almonds and cream. On the palate it shows a good acidity with the primary flavors being honey, marzipan, and apple like citrus.
- 2001 Roger Goulart Cava Brut Nature – Spain, Catalunya, Cava (3/5/2005)
Light straw with strong efffervensence. Lime with a light bread note, and faint yeast. Med body with a light sweetness to start that quickly fades into the distance. Lime and orange with a light woodiness and some bread notes. Very tasty with a subtle elegance and a delicate complexity.Very nice wine.