Even during challenging times like these, there’s plenty of reasons to pop the cork on a sparkling wine. If you’re drinking alone you can even enjoy sparkling wine over a few days using the “spoon trick.”
This February, I’ve shared two sparkling wine secrets, Cremant from Burgundy and Franciacorta in Italy. Both of these sparkling wines are made in the traditional method like the one found in Champagne and these wines use the grapes also found in Champagne.
This week, we bring you a Cava from Catalonia. Catalonia (Catalunya in Catalan) is located in Spain in the far northeast region near the Pyrenees mountains beside France and along the Mediterranean Sea. The region’s capital Barcelona has the second highest population in Spain and it’s the fifth most populous city in the EU.
While Catalan has 11 wine-growing regions
- Costers del Segre,
- Conca de Barberà,
- Pla del Bages
- Terra Alta,
Unlike the previous wines from France and Italy however, Cava is not made with “French” grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but with indigenous Spanish grapes like Xarel.lo, Macabeo, and Parellada.
According to this 2017 article in Decanter, “Xarel.lo is the most important grape variety” in Cava and makes up 25% of the plantings of white wine grapes, bringing intensity and notes of dried camomile and fennel to the glass with a pleasantly bitter finish. Research cited in the article shows that this grape has the highest amount of the powerful antioxidant resveratrol in white grape skins. Low pH and high acidity makes the grape age worthy. It performs best at lower altitudes where it has a long growing season; it handles drought well, a definite benefit for areas experiencing this climatic stress and potentially a grape for areas like California.
With 35% of the plantings and the second most white wine planted in Spain, the most common grape variety in Cava is Macabeo (known as Viura in Rioja which we wrote about last month here.) While a more neutral grape which takes on characteristics of the lees, Macabeo brings orchard fruit to the palate and floral aromas.
With 20% of the white grape plantings, Parellada performs best at higher altitudes, and when aged, has the potential to offer orange zest to the blend.
Of the 128 wineries listed on the Cava D.O. website, 73 are organic, which is very impressive, while nine are biodynamic. These wineries would be a good start on a journey to go deeper into the joys of Cava– beyond what’s easily available in the grocery stores in the US.
There’s a lot to learn about Cava and Catalonia; I’ve barely scratched the surface here! I’d love to dig deeper into where to go and what to do there. For more information about wine tourism in Catalonia, go here.
We paired Marqués de Cáceres Cava from Catalonia with oysters and crackers with salmon roe, a citrus salad, and a chorizo white bean and kale stew; recipe below. For more pairing ideas with Cava, check this out.
For five generations, Enrique Forner and family farmed the best vineyards in La Rioja. Then In 1970 he founded Marqués de Cáceres, Unión Vitivinícola, S.A..Today his daughter Cristina Forner from the third generation of this wine family in Catalonia, runs the show; she joined Marqués de Cáceres in 1983 to lead the company’s internationalisation drive.and took over as President in 2007. Marqués de Cáceres exports to over 140 countries. We are featuring a second wine from Marqués de Cáceres next month and for Women’s History Month, I’ll have more to say about this amazing woman! Scroll down for info about a women in cava event!
This is a blend of 50% Xarel.lo, 30% Macabeo (aka Viura), and 20% Parellada from vines that are from vines that are 25+ years old and grown at 330-1,315′ above sea level on clay and limestone soil in the Penedès area of Catalonia. The freerun juice from each variety is fermented separately for fifteen days. Once blended, the “liqueur de tirage” is added and a second fermentation commences in an underground cellar, and the wine is aged with lees contact with at least 11 months allowing the wine to achieve a “balance of fruit (from the grapes), richness (from the lees), and a perfect integration of the bubbles (from cellaring).”
Classy label makes you feel like you are sipping on a more expensive wine than it is.
Color: Lemon yellow, delicate fizzy bubbles rise from the middle of the glass leaving a bit of foam around them.
Nose: Subtle minerals and fruit.
Palate; Very foamy across the palate. Lemony tartness, Sue found notes of fennel at the back of the throat. Overall it is very bubbly with lemon lime. This is a very nice wine for the price
Pairing; The salinity of the oyster brings out such nice fruit on the nose. It actually enhances the nose more than the palate. I smelled so much more fruit after shucking the oysters and having the briny sea on my tongue. The salmon roe was just an explosion of flavor and was enhanced nicely with the wine. Loved the wine with our warm olives with cranberry and lemon rind. The lemon rind was such a treat with the freshness of the rind. The salmon oil or the salmon flavor overwhelms the wine a bit. Maybe if we were to add a bit of creme fraiche under the salmon eggs, it may have tamed the flavor a bit. We made a salad of spring greens, tangerine slices, avocado, chopped marcona almonds, fried chorizo, tossed in a orange vinegarette. It was so nice together both texturally and flavor wise. The crunch, the creamy, and the bubbles was just perfect together. The crunch and the flavor of the chorizo was so fantastic with the wine. So great with a White bean chorizo soup.
Forget the oysters and seafood– bring on the Spanish chorizo soup!
The spicy saltiness of the chorizo in the soup brings out a fruitiness in the wine. Yes, we did this recipe last month but it’s so good it’s worth repeating! It’s so easy and so good– surprisingly with the Cava too!
Easy Spanish Chorizo Kale Bean Soup
- 1T olive oil
- 8 oz Spanish chorizo cubed to 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 shallot or small onion chopped
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cans white beans
- 1T paprika
- Pinch of saffron
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 to 3 cups fresh chopped kale
In a saucepan over medium high heat
- Drizzle olive oil, add chopped chorizo, cook until golden brown.
- Add onion, stirring frequently and sauté 2 minutes until soft
- Add garlic, continue stirring and sauté one more minute
- Add chicken stock, white beans, paprika, and saffron
- Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes
- After 20 minutes add chopped kale and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes
While we can’t really travel in person yet, we can travel virtually and vicariously. So join the World Wine Travel group as we explore wine regions in Spain during 2021 on the fourth Saturday each month.
More on this topic from these wine writers:
- Allison and Chris from Advinetures look at “Cava: Spain’s Answer to Champagne”
- Andrea from The Quirky Cork enjoys “Tapas with Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava”
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Pollo a la Catalana + Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2019”
- David from Cooking Chat shines with “Mushroom Fricassee and Red Wine from Priorat”
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator brings “Sparkling Wine Secrets: Catalonia Cava from Marqués de Cáceres with Spanish Chorizo Kale Bean Stew”
- Jeff from Food Wine Click looks at “Exploring the Variety of Still Wines from Catalunya”
- Linda from My Full Wine Glass showcases “Pere Mata Cupada Rosé Cava: Finesse in a glass”
- Lynn from Savor the Harvest posts “Beyond Cava: Loxarel and Gramona Organic Sparkling Wines”
- Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog waxes poetic about “A Taste of Can Descregut; Grower Spanish Sparkling Wine From The Corazón del Penedès”
- Melanie from Wining With Mel muses about “Innovative winemaking in Catalunya’s Penedès: Torres Gran Coronas Reserva”
- Nicole from SommsTable pens “On a Hilltop in Priorat”
- Payal from Keep The Peas joins with “Bartender’s Choice from Priorat”
- Pinny from Chinese Food And Wine Pairing writes about “Enjoying Cavas of Different Price Points”
- Robin from Crushed Grape Chronicles focused on “Priorat DOQ in Spain’s Cataluña region and Franck Massard’s 2015 “Humilitat”
- Steve from Children of the Grape describes “Cava by the Sea”
- Susannah from Avvinare thinks about “Two Key Areas in Catalonia Wine Scene: Cava and Priorat”
- Terri from Our Good Life dished about “Chicken Empanadas and Azimut Cava”
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on The Farm adds “Enjoying Tapas with Spanish Wines from Catalonia”
You’re invited to join our chat Saturday, February 27th, 2021 at 8am Pacific.
- 11:00 am ET
- Q1 Welcome to the #worldwinetravel virtual Catalonia virtual visit. Where are you tweeting from? Introduce yourself, share a link to your blog. Visitors too!
- 11:05 am ET
- Q2 We’re continuing our deep into Spain in 2021. What did you know about Catalonia prior to our event? #worldwinetravel
- 11:10am ET
- Q3 Catalonia is perhaps best-known for Cava and Priorat. Did you uncover anything interesting in your research for the event about the other areas that make up Catalonia or about Cava and Priorat that you didn’t know? #worldwinetravel
- 11:15am ET
- Q4 Tell us about the Catalonian wine you’re highlighting today #worldwinetravel
- 11:20 am ET
- Q5 Catalonia has a wide range of grapes in its different Dos. Which ones did you wine use and what are your thoughts on the wine they produced?#worldwinetravel
- 11:25 am ET
- Q6 How would you explain your wine, if comparing it say to wines from another country made in a similar style? What is special about its Catalonian origin? Grape varieties? Aging regimes?#worldwinetravel
- 11:30 am ET
- Q7 Did you pair your wine w/ food? Did you choose a regional food or a creative pairing of your own? #worldwinetravel
- 11:35am ET
- Q8 How did your pairings go? Are there things you’d try in the future or anything to avoid? #worldwinetravel
- 11:40am ET
- Q9 Catalonia is home to Spain’s second largest city Barcelona and so many important smaller cities. It’s a hugely popular Spanish wine destination. Have you visited? Did your experience with these wines increase your interest in visiting? #worldwinetravel
- Q10 What are your thoughts or suggestions for introducing this region to your audience? Where you compelled to write about its rich and complicated history as well? #worldwinetravel
- Q11 Open comment time, any thoughts or discoveries you’d like to share? #worldwinetravel
- Thanks for joining our #worldwinetravel chat on Catalonia. Join us next month as we explore Castilla y Leon, home to Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Toro, and who knows what else!
Learn more about the women of Cava on International Women’s Day — I’ll toast to that!