Cava, for that bubbly time of year
This is an expanded version of my monthly column for Barcelona Metropolitan
For those who love sparkling wines, this is a great time of year. However, the festive season can be a minefield of lesser bubblies just waiting to hurt your body, soul, and potentially, friendships. In Catalunya, there is no reason to reach for the Champagne shelf, as we have a more than ample supply of our own bubbly in the form of Cava.
Maybe you’ve been burned by a cheap Cava at some point as there are many, many bad Cavas out there. I can easily attest to this as I just had one of the Loxarel lower-end wines that’s usually about 15€. It was lackluster, blunt, and generally uninteresting and if that doesn’t sound like a good time, it wasn’t.
If however you can divorce yourself from the giddiness at seeing a bubbly on the shelf for less than 10€ and accept paying that 20€ or more price, then Cava will most seriously “be your joint“. Take this gospel seriously as it comes from a red wine drinker.
Juvé y Camps Reserva de la Familia 2011
Aromatic touches of the barrel aging but very balanced overall. Brioche and red fruits emerge as it opens. Full in the mouth, it holds a good, fresh acidity that carries through the finish, and year after year it is one of the best value bottles on the market.
Macabeu, Parellada, Xarel·lo 12% 15€
Recaredo Terrers 2008
One of my favourite cava producers, who works completely organically. Fresh, floral aromas along with chalky minerality, and a light perfume that gives way to an elegant mouthfeel with excellent acidity enhanced by the fine bubbles.
Xarel·lo, Macabeu, Parellada 12% 17€
Alta Alella Opus Evolutim 2010
What may be termed a Blanc de Blancs as it is made solely from Chardonnay grapes, this unique and elegant bottle holds light lime peel, fresh cream, and white blossoms to the nose as well as mineral notes and a delicate tinge of brininess.
Xarel·lo, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir 12% 25€
Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
Clos Henri - Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2016 92
Earthy, red cherries, young, crisp cranberry, light herbal notes, leafy, minor chalk. Medium tannins and medium plus acidity as well as length. Light sweetness on the palate but with a very pleasant, lingering structure and lightness to it.
100% Pinot Noir · 13.5% · 16.50EUR
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Rouge 2015 92
Medium ruby. Fresh red cherry, raspberry, and young strawberry, lifted and breathy, saline tinge along with light stoniness and rosemary and garrigue. Fresh red fruit on the palate, medium acidity but still light on the palate, fresh, and while the alcohol sticks out a little, holds and excellent, long finish.
Grenache Carignan Mourvèdre · 14.5% · 20EUR
Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%