Wonderful toasty aromas and bright green apple flavors are underlined by grace notes of roasted almond. Lovely depth coupled with a minerally, lingering finish make this a gorgeously versatile sparkler. $20
100% Verdejo from Spain’s Rueda region. Verdejo is an interesting grape that can produce fleshy, ripe wines underlined by racy acidity. This is just such a wine, with aromas and flavors of ripe Bartlett pear enlivened with a vibrant seam of acidity. A quintessential quaffer in warm weather, it will work beautifully beside weighty winter dishes like New England clam chowder. $16
“Ressò” is Catalan for “echo,” and this old-vine Garnacha is so-named for its representation of the terroir and climate of Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Complex, floral nose loaded with red fruit. Candied strawberries and black raspberry flavors are augmented by licorice, mineral and peppery notes. Try this beauty with hard Spanish chorizo and aged Manchego cheese. $8
This is some bang-up bubbles for the money! The nose expresses a mixture of green apple and apricot, with hints of toastiness on the finish. The aromas continue to the palate, which is mouthwatering and refreshing. Great as an aperitif, even better throughout any meal that seems like a celebration. $18
A classic Priorat blend of 80% Garnatxa Negra (Grenache) and 20% Carinyena (Carignan). The nose expounds aromas of licorice and sweet red berries. The palate is lush in style, medium-bodied with juicy acidity. Bold wine with a deep mineral streak underlining the fruit, this would do nicely next to spicy-sweet glazed ham. $25
Most casual wine drinkers would shudder at the notion of paying upwards of 200 dollars for a bottle of bubbly. A certain other few would willingly hand over the coinage for a vintage bottling of Champagne worth having…Champagne that is. And why not? Over the past two centuries Champagne has become the name in sparkling wine production. A precedent which nearly every style of fine bubbles the world around is modeled after. It is the gold standard of sparkling wine that often takes the form of extravagant shelf pricing.
What about Spanish Cava? Would Champagne aficionados feel compelled to pop the cork of a Cava they knew was just as good (and for the same price)? In terms of international recognition, Cava is rarely (if ever) thought of as an equivalent—sort of like the Junior Varsity squad for sparkling wine production—bearing talent and potential but, lacking the experience and refinement to make the starting line-up (not entirely true). A better observation would be that though Cava represents a considerable amount of modest wine, sound and suitable for everyday drinking, it is also capable of producing remarkable bottles.
Several months back, during the pith of the summer heat spike, Adam Segura (general manager of The Vineyard Wine Shop) and I jumped ship to a grower-sparkling wine tasting at Boulder, CO’s The Kitchen. That ship being Matt Austin of Natural Wine CO’s air conditioned Volkswagen; he was nice enough to let us carpool.
At first glance it appeared to be a fairly standard trade tasting. Importers, distributers, experts and the like behind their tables, eager to sell their wines to guys like me and Adam who work the frontlines of retail. The show was anything but standard. Actually, the Cavas we tasted were anything but standard, the kind of stellar sparkling that would beguile the most discerning connoisseur.
Recaredo was the word of the day, also the name of a Cava house founded by Josep Mata in 1924, which even among the range of wines on display proved a name one ought not forget.
The first wine we tasted was the 2007 Brut Nature, a steal at $45 shelf price, reminiscent of ripe lemon and orange zest with a gorgeous layer of lavender. My eyes went wide as a turned to catch Adam’s reaction. He looked as though he had been slapped…and liked it, which is often the only way of describing one’s reaction to winemaking of that caliber.
Next we tasted the 2004 Grand Reserva ($67) which spent 100 months sur lie in bottle. Yikes! Adam got slapped twice with this one, not minding it a bit. Complex? Think creamy limecicle with undulating veins of flower, toast and chalk. Did I mention the acidity in these wines is undeniably structured and vivacious? Because it is.
The 2003 Reserva Particular followed, smashing a home run to left field. Similar to the Grand Reserva but with slightly higher pedigree of fruit (the grapes used were appraised at a higher value). I found the Particular a bit creamier and slightly more intense. Roughly $120 on the shelf, about the same as Pol Roger’s 2002 Blanc de Blancs. What could be better?
It got better. The crescendo of this symphony of Cava came with the tasting of Recaredos 2002 Turó d’En Mota, which almost had Adam in tears…imagine seeing Franz Shubert conducting his famed Symphony No. 8 while Caravaggio paints his portrait. Mota is not only harmonious, complex and utterly enchanting; it’s all that and a bag of truffle fries that sees 112 months of lees aging. It’s a true masterpiece that should require no introduction.
The same meticulous efforts that go into fine Champagne production are also employed for Recaredo’s Cava. The vineyards are dry-farmed without use of pesticides, with organic fertilizer used only sparingly. Every step leading to final product is done by hand: harvesting, riddling and disgorgement. The entire process is elaborate, time-consuming and laborious, making the price tags modest in comparison to efforts exerted and number of resulting bottles. Turó d’En Mota for example, is limited to 2,704 bottles, each individually number.
Cava Recaredo has more than earned its place on the world stage and undeniably deserves to be held in the same regard as the finest sparkling producers around. If one’s curiosity is abundant, one ought to buy them, cellar them, drink them, bathe in them, just don’t let the opportunity pass. So grab a bottle for your next celebration (New Year’s Eve)—just be prepared for all senses to be slapped in the face. And you’ll love it!
Great-value, unique wine made of native Galician varieties. Well-balanced, fresh and dry, with great citrusy expression. Mostly (70%) composed of the traditional variety Treixadura, complemented by other grapes native to the region: Godello, Loureirra, Torrontés, Albariño and Lado. Extraordinary presence and length on the finish, making it a great friend to any shellfish preparation. $22
While most Spanish sparkling wine houses source their grapes from far and wide chasing a “house style,” “grower” Cavas are expressions of a single vineyard or estate. This one shows notes of yeasty bread, apricot, green apples and wet stone, and the tiny bubbles are a delight to behold. In addition to the traditional Cava grape varieties, a small percentage of Chardonnay is added to the cuvee for extra richness and florality. Pop it with some simply grilled fish and this bubbly will turn any evening into a celebration. $12