Outsold by prosecco and outclassed by champagne, cava has had a lean time of it lately. In 2016, exports to Britain fell by 18%, a proven fact that, insist its advocates, says extra in regards to the failure of Spanish winemakers to market cava successfully than any inherent lack of high quality.
At Christmas, cava could also be considered an inexpensive base for a buck’s fizz, however its supporters argue that this wine, which is bottled-fermented like champagne, is a severe drink in its personal proper. “Fifteen-quid cava is almost always better than £15 champagne and it offers much better value than prosecco,” says Ben Wright, the co-owner of the Porta tapas bars in Altrincham and Chester. “At the lower price points, cava is consciously different to champagne. It is fresher and appley, as opposed to champagne’s more buttery, biscuity character. Cava is a great Christmas aperitif.”
Producers in cava’s Catalan heartland hope to deal with its fame as a big-volume, low-expectation wine with a brand new classification, cava de paraje calificado, utilized to a choose band of single-estate cavas. These limited-production wines are made on the winery (bigger producers have put aside designated rising areas) and aged for at the least 3 years. Only 12 cavas have been granted that standing thus far, however the long-term purpose is to obviously differentiate between totally different requirements of cava, proper as much as these £100 bottles that, it’s argued, can rival good champagne.
If that makeover works, this can be the final Christmas to seize some bargains earlier than costs rise. “The quality versus price sweet spot is £10 to £15,” says Wright, who recommends Parés Baltà’s cava brut (£13.27). But what of the grocery store own-brands and unique traces, lots of which value lower than £10? Will they add sparkle to your Christmas – or go away a nasty style in your mouth?
This is made by a big producer, Codorníu, which has 3 paraje wines in its portfolio. This barely scattergun wine shouldn’t be one among them, but it surely capably demonstrates how mainstream cava often has way more charisma than mainstream prosecco. This instance consists of some chardonnay and sparkles with honeyed and buttered toast notes, however it’s bracingly dry and filled with cava’s distinctive citrus and apple flavours. It is harking back to farmhouse cider and funky, bitter beers. 6/10
This brut cava (the second-driest class after brut nature) is made utilizing a higher-than-normal proportion of parellada grapes, one among 3 varieties (the others are xarello and macabeo) classically used to make cava. To develop character, it’s aged for 12 months on the lees [spent yeast], and tastes of honeydew melon, inexperienced apple and, most overtly, limes and lemon pith. Unexpected hints of Mediterranean herbs and wild flowers add intrigue to this crisp, spritzy drop. 7/10
The finest younger cavas have a clear, zippy freshness to them, whereas this feels drained and flabby. Its short-lived aromas (pine cleaner, baked apples, one thing yeasty) are as complicated as its flavours. A slightly aggressively fizzy mouthful, it tastes, albeit briefly, of sherbet lemons, boiled strawberry sweets and stewed apples. Its cidery acidity is jostled by fleeting, elusive and slightly disagreeable ripe, dank notes. It is jarring and ham-fisted, a bull in a china store of a wine. 3/10
If prosecco could be unbearably candy and low cost champagne is commonly immediate heartburn in a glass, cava is well-placed to plug that glowing hole. But it may be restricted in its inexperienced apple flavours. This vibrant cava goes method past that base competency. Lightly, tightly effervescent, it comes on like a classier, cleaner farmhouse cider, however shortly offers up a large number of tropical flavours (white peach, overripe melon, limes) with a pleasant stony, mineral end. It is partaking right down to the final drop. 8/10
M&S’s cava is charged with a reasonably prickly, acidity-intensifying fizz, and is satisfyingly and drily fruity. Flavours of gooseberry, quince, peach, sun-drenched lemons and, in fact, inexperienced apples waft previous as you chug it down. A sure creaminess and one thing savoury occurring beneath that fruit places this on the aspiring-to-be-champagne finish of the cava spectrum. It lacks pinpoint definition and can’t match the elegant depth of Ocado’s cava, however it could successfully kickstart any Christmas celebration. 7/10
This actually explodes out of the bottle and, for the primary few frothy gulps, effervesces away to nothing. As it settles, like dangerous champagne it tastes very dry, acidic and slim in its flavours of lime cordial, sharp, underripe lemons and shrivelled grapes. Later, you get transient flashes of peach, sticky strawberries and even bready champagne-like notes, however it’s a must to focus exhausting to detect such nuances. Far extra so than it would be best to at a Christmas celebration. 4/10
This reserva – aged on the lees for at the least 15 months – has a yeasty aroma and fewer confrontational manner than a number of the drier, fizzier, extra acidic cavas (Tesco, Morrison’s). It is softly bubbly and initially brilliant with apple, honeydew melon and lemon flavours that, sadly, fail to evolve apparently. It falls right into a slightly monotonous apple-lemon groove which, if completely drinkable, lacks the complexity and verve that may get you going again for a 2d or 3rd glass. 5/10
“A real party in a glass,” says Morrisons, which makes you are concerned about its copywriters and their thought of an excellent time. This smells limply unexciting (of hay and limes but in addition rotting gooseberries and moist cardboard), and tastes overwhelmingly dry and tart in that shrill method of low cost, overly fizzy champagnes. Its inexperienced apple and lemon flavours are stunted and unconvincing; wizened and harsh the place you crave sunshine and gracefulness. We’ve all been to events like this … and left early. 3/10
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Tony Naylor from theguardian.com