Beyond Champagne Part I: Cava

The world of wine is so massive, with so many different grapes, regions, and producers. It’s enough to make one’s head spin!

Though I am not a sommelier, I do enjoy quite a range of wines. One of my go-to styles is sparkling wines.

When someone opens a bottle of bubbles, it tends to be for some grand event or achievement! Rightfully so, where some champagnes can cost hundreds of dollars, with non-vintage bottles still costing 60-100$ roughly.

However, sparkling wine is so much more than champagne! Across the globe, great wines are made, whether it's Prosecco from Italy or Cremant from France… or even a new world offering of sparkling wine!

However, there is another! Cava!

Made in Spain, this wine comes from the Catalonia region. Typically,  grapes used in cava are Xarel-lo, Macabeo, and Parellada. However, other grapes like Garnacha, Chardonnay, or Pinot noir are sometimes used also.

Cava’s are similar to champagne in its production method; the wine gets a second fermentation inside the bottle. This gives the wine its characteristic bubbliness.  Cava means cave in Spanish and refers to the caves that store the wines as they age.

A cava is aged and split into three different categories.

A basic cava must be aged for at least nine months aging on the lees. (The lees are the leftover yeast that collects in the neck of the bottle and is removed before putting the proper cork and label on the wine)
Reserva cava is aged for at least 15 months on the lees, just like non-vintage champagnes are.

Gran Reserva cava is aged for at least 30 months on lees, and it is also dated as to what vintage it was.

Cava’s are a great way to add sparkle to your meal, and you can enjoy a bottle without hurting your wallet as well!

Cava ranges in price from just below 20$ to 40$ for the ones I have personally come across, and I’m sure some vintages are much more but most commonly found bottles are pretty affordable!

Bottles I recommend trying are:

- Villa Conchi Brut seleccion

This wine is made from the traditional cava blend, but with a touch of chardonnay added, which adds a bit of French flair to this wine. Very dry, refreshing with notes of apple and lemon, touches of brioche and almond as well! For the price at 20 dollars in NB, this is an exceptional value! Also can be found in magnum bottles for parties!

- Codorníu Brut Clasico

A classic cava, one of my favorites. High acidity, very refreshing, and notes of apple, pear, lemon, and florals.

- Freixenet ice cuvee especial

A sweeter cava. Very well balanced with the sugar and the acid, notes of lemon, grapefruit, and even a hint of mint! This wine is a crowd-pleaser, as it is sweeter, but not overly so! Give this a try if you find some!

These wines are a great start to get into the world of champagne alternatives! Remember, tastes in wines vary as much as people do, so experiment with them! Try something you’ve never tried before! You never know when or where you'll find a gem!

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