House: La Escapada
Name: Cava Brut
Origin: Penedes, Spain
Price: 47 DKK/6,30 EUR/7,70 USD on winefamly.dk (market price: 95 DKK/12,80 EUR/15,60 USD)
Penedes as wine region
The wine country of Penedès, located less than an hour from Barcelona, is one of the most exciting wine regions in Spain. A wide range of wine styles are produced here including the Traditional Method (sparkling) white and rosé Cava (made with the indigenous grapes of Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Parellada), dry reds, dry whites, and dessert whites.
The wine region of Penedès is subdivided into various zones including Baix-Penedes (Lower Penedès, where Vilafranca del Penedès is the main village); Mitja- Penedès (Middle Penedès, the main production area with unspoiled vineyard scenery) and Alt-Penedès (High Penedès, which indeed is at the highest altitude, at about 800 meters).
The soil types across all three sub regions are fairly similar with limestone, sand and clay all present. The climate is Mediterranean and mild with an average year round temperature of about 16 degrees. The Tramontana wind blows in from France in winter, but is subdued by the Montserrat mountains which rise majestically above the wine country. With such a wide range of terrains, the Penedès is full of microclimates which the talented winemakers take advantage of to produce such high quality and varied wines.
Cava as an alternative to Champagne
Cava is made the same way that Champagne is produced, but with different grapes. Macabeu (aka called Viura in Rioja) is the primary grape used in Cava production. Despite its importance, Macabeu tastes somewhat simple. It has faint floral aromatics, a lemony flavor with a slightly bitter finish that tastes similar to green almonds. Xarel·lo (sounds like ‘Cheryl-ooh’) on the other hand, is much more aromatic with rich floral aromas and pear/melon-like notes. The last grape, Paralleda, is blended for its ripping high acidity and zesty citrus flavors. Together the three Spanish grapes create a balanced fruity sparkling wine that’s less sweet than Prosecco but not as nutty as Vintage Champagne.
What makes Cava so much cheaper than Champagne? First of all, the most obvious reason is, that it does not bear Champagne brand. Even though they are made the same way, Champagne is limited to the sparkling wines coming from Champagne made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier which are very expensive grapes to produce.
Second reason is a bit suprising for me (I tought it all lies in the name and price of the grapes). Spaniards have fully adopted advanced mechanization in order to produce, store and bottle their Cava. It’s amazing if not a little creepy to see unmanned forklifts in perfect formation carefully collect, riddle and stack millions of bottles. The warehouse thunders with activity but there’s not a single human in sight. Surprisingly, the wines are delicious.
La Escapada, Cava Brut
In the nose we get lovely fresh citrus notes with a hint of peaches and nuts. In the mouth we can feel the small and very smooth bubbles. Usually you would expect a Brut to be a bit drier but it is still OK. Taste confirms the nose with an addition of apples. This Cava has short finish.
Not everyone can afford to pay for a real Champagne on a daily basis. Especially not if you drink wine as often as I do. Cava is great alternative if you are on a budget or if you just simply do not want break bank over a bottle of wine. It might just take a little bit of time to find a house you like. Besides this one, I reccommend Codorniu and their Anna line of premium Cava.