Guest Author - Rachel L Webb
What’s your preference- French or Spanish?
No we’re not talking accents or men, women or beaches. We’re talking wine, white wine come to that – the sparkling kind.
Yes Champagne, but what about Cava?
Having lived under the shadow of its neighbour for so long the thoughts of "cheap cousin" is turning the tables.
Cava has been produced for 140 years and it´s no imitation, produced with its own grape varieties it’s a duelling rival.
Before the 1970’s cava was known as Spanish champagne, that was before the E.U ruled that only wine produced in the specific area of Champagne in France could go by that name.
Does that mean I used to drink cava – when it was called Spanish Champagne and not think it inferior? Yes it sure does.
So why is it that I now think cava is inferior? It’s all in the name.
I did a wine tasting session.
One glass – well taster of cava and one of champagne. I did this several times with my son as my major-domo, we used different champagnes and cavas each time, and my preference? The Spanish won every time.
No I’m not prejudice just because I live here, I truly preferred the cava and I don’t mind admitting that my predilection lost big time. I was a champagne snob and now?
Well taste preference has to go first surely? Or price? Both a winner.
The E.U ruling helped the Spanish growers by making them label their wine under it’s own name, at the same time restrictions as to what could be labelled as cava meant an increase in quality. Which today being produced in the same way as champagne, brings us not an inferior alternative - but an equal in quality and superior in taste and price.
The main production is to the south-west of Barcelona in the Catalonia region. The village of Sant Sadurni D’Arnoia in Penedes is said to produce 85% of the total cava output. I bet the village cava fiesta goes with a bang.
A mild mediterranean climate with an average of 12 –14 degrees, limited rainfall and hardly any wind make it ideal growing conditions for the local Macabeu, Xarel-lo and Parellada grape.
With its growing success the big bodegas or wine cellars such as Freixenet have ploughed money back into cava production to ensure a world-wide presence of this clear effervescent bubbly. It is now the worlds largest producer of sparkling wine using the traditional methods, with exports to more than 140 countries.
The best seller in Spain is the Carta Nevada brand first produced in 1941 which is available in dry or medium-dry.
Since 1986 the Chardonnay grape has been used in the DO (domain d’origen), and we all know that Chardonnay is the tops – still or frothy.
Admittedly it all started in the 1870’s, with a healthy intention of producing a sparkling wine to rival the French champagne on Spanish soil with local grapes. A success story that needs a toast.
Latienda has a range of Spanish Cava and other wines.