Throughout much of the world, when it comes to sparkling wines, champagne is the undisputed king, or queen, for that matter. It is the traditional drink of celebration, whether it be popping open a bottle of bubbly on New Year’s Eve, raising a glass of champagne at a wedding, toasting to a birthday, or congratulating someone on a milestone accomplishment. Non-vintage. Cuvee. For some, it does not appear to matter. The rule seems to be, the bigger the occasion, the more expensive the champagne. Until recently, in the United States, there was little consideration for any other type of sparkling wine. Special occasions aside, it was red, white, and maybe a rose’ wine. There was no room at the dinner table for anything else.
Then Prosecco came on the scene. This Italian sparkling wine, made from Glera grapes, suited the price range and the palates of Americans, some of whom recognized it as an affordable quality alternative to champagne while others did not know the difference. The popularity of Prosecco stemmed partially from their ubiquity on the market, their inherent affinity with Italian food and restaurants where a Prosecco by the glass can usually be found, the quality of production that guides the making of some Prosecco distributed in the United States, and the many varieties that can be found here.
But Cava? Until recently, most Americans did not even know what Cava were, and the majority that did, likely remembered the one in a tinted black bottle that was better left forgotten.
In truth, there are many fine Cava on the market. It is just that they have not reached the North American market yet. A number of them come from Catalonia. Some of them will arrive in the United States market this year just in time for summer. A preview of some of Catalonia’s select Cava and reds took place at Solera restaurant at 216 East 53rd. Street on June 4, 2014.
A Vilarnau Brut Rosado D.O. Cava with good effervescence, strawberry notes and hints of herbs kicked off the evening, paired with a range of hors d oeuvres including gazpacho and chorizo.
A Torello Brut Reserva Cava from the venerable Can Marti Vineyards produced solely from grapes grown on site, that had elements of toasted almonds and nuts, paired nicely with a first course of pan tomate y jamon, matrimonio boqueron y anchoa, bunuelo de espinaca.
A second course of arroz negra was complemented by a Gran Riserva Xarel. Lo Finca La Nansa 2007. This Cava, a single vineyard production of 100% Xarel. Lo grapes, demonstrated great aging potential with apple and pear notes.
A third course of lubina Mediterranea a la plancha worked well with the highlight among the Cavas presented. An Agusti Torello Mata Cava Kripta Gran Reserva comprised of Macabeo, Xarel. Lo and Parellada had beautiful floral notes and hints of summer fruits as well as vanilla.
Four reds were introduced with a grilled corte del carnicero a la parrilla. A Cervoles 2007 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Temperanillo, Garnacha and Merlot yielded pronounced notes of ripe cherries, berries as well as hints of cedar. A + 7 Mas Blanca D.O.Q. Priorat blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenacha and Syrah with balanced oak and lush fruit enhanced the concentrated flavors of the steak.
A fine selection of Spanish cheeses as well as a dessert combination featuring a delicate crema Catalana and a lightly sweetened tarta de Santiago helped end the Catalan inspired evening on a high note.