The Noble Writ: Giving Cava Some Credit
During production, much Champagne is aged in its bottle with yeast for several years prior to release. This extended interaction with yeast gives Champagne a range of flavors that many people find compelling and record positively as toasty, yeasty, nutty or freshly-baked bread. But these flavors and aromas really hit me the wrong way when they become significant components, so my practical side doesn't see the point in spending a premium for Champagne.
Luckily, there is a great wide world of other sparkling wines well worth your attention. Today, we'll explore one of my favorites: the Spanish sparkling wine, Cava.
|User "Martorell," Wikimedia Commons|
|Catalonia is highlighed in green (main) and black (inset).|
The amount of sugar in this last topping-up determines the sweetness of the final wine. In some cases, this final addition contains no sugar at all -- though this is very rare in the case of Cava. In order of sweetest to driest, Cava is labeled: Dulce; Semi-seco; Seco; Extra Seco; Brut; Extra Brut. For drinking on its own, I stick with Brut or Extra Brut Cava, as the others are too sweet for my palate, though they might make for a nice match with a light dessert.
While there have been some plantings of French sparkling wine grapes like chardonnay and pinot noir in Cava regions, most Cava still comes from the local grapes macabeo, parellada, and xarel-lo. So, if you're a grape ticker, grabbing a bottle of Cava is a quick way to add three to your tally that you're unlikely to encounter elsewhere.
This week, I'm trying non-vitnage Avinyó Cava Brut (60% macabeo, 25% xarel-lo, 15% parellada). Pale gold. Fine, lively bubbles. Crisp honeydew, citrus and chalk. Good fruit on the palate, but still brisk. Just a touch of toast to round out the lingering finish. A very nice Cava. (33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar, $17)
Dave Nelson is the author of the blog Beer, Wine and Whisky. He writes about wine for Gut Check every Tuesday.