Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Cava Cheer

Cava gets a bad name in the UK, usually the cheap fizz trotted out at promotional events is immediately accused of being Cava and gets poured into the nearest pot plant.  I want to spread a bit of Cava (pronounced ca-ba - soft b) love this Christmas by pointing you all in the direction of some truly decent bottles of Cava that are well worth gracing your posh flutes this Yuletide.  Cava is made in the exact same traditional method as Champagne and has been aged for at least 9 months, and considering a fabulous bottle of Cava costs much the same as a run of the mill bottle of Champagne, it's a must for your Christmas shopping trolley.




Cava is Catalonia's most famous wine and the majority of it is made in a small town called Sant Sadurni in the Penedès region, just 20 minutes south of Barcelona.  The two biggest Cava houses in the region are Freixenet and Cordorníu.  Cava is usually a blend of three grapes; Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo but can often be found with Chardonnay mixed in there as well.

First rule of thumb is price, if you buy a cheap bottle for £2 it's not going to be any good, you get what you pay for.  Secondly, a lot of the supermarkets have had big Cava houses make bottles exclusively for them so don't automatically exclude the supermarket own brand. The third and best rule is - drink it!  Cava isn't meant to be kept for long periods of time, so whack it in the fridge and open at your earliest convenience.

I have painstakingly scanned the wine aisles of all the major supermarkets to bring to your attention some of the best Cava out there.


Asda


Asda Extra Special Vintage Cava  £4.98

At less than a fiver this bottle has won awards a-plenty, including Silver at the International Wine Challenge 2009, should be good for serving with some canapés or as a welcome drink at your Christmas house party.

Cordorníu Cava Brut Rosado £11.98


A bit more money for your fizz but you're paying for the power house name of Cordorníu and for the pinkness. Made with Monastrell, Garnacha and Trepat this would be a fab wine to serve with a prawn cocktail or smoked salmon starter.






Tesco


Cordorníu Vintage Cava £5.99 (usually £12.99)


This best seller is currently for sale at less than half price until 04/01/11, what better reason to stick a few extra in trolley for gifts and to pop on New Year's Eve.








Freixenet Especial Rosado Cava £6.49 (usually £12.99)

Not my favourite pink Cava but I certainly wouldn't complain at this price (which is cheaper than we can buy it out here).  I would happily slurp this just because there is a 'y' in the day.











Sainsbury's

Clos Monistrol Vintage Cava £11.99


Given that most of the supermarkets seem to have half price offers on the big label Cavas then this does seem expensive in comparison.  Sainsbury's suggest that you try it with mince pies and who am I to argue, if I could get mince pies out here I'd happily test that theory.


Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Cava £6.99


Sadly Sainsbury's are somewhat lacking in a description of this Cava, I would like to know who they get to make it for them, but I guess it doesn't really matter.  It's tastes very good and is at a nice price point.




Waitrose

Waitrose Cava Brut, £6.64


Exclusively made for Waitrose by Castillo Perelada this will be an excellent Cava at a fantastic price.  Shame the label manages to make it look cheap though.






Waitrose in Partnership Cava, £8.54


Again made by Castillo Perelada this bottle is nearly £2 more expensive but looks a lot classier, I'm sure the extra money will be well worth it for a special occasion.







Freixenet Elyssia Gran Cuvee £14.24


Purely for showing off this one, the 15 months ageing is unnecessary in my humble Cava drinking opinion as Cava is best drunk young and lively, but if you want to impress and push the boat out then this will not disappoint.




Sadly my two favourite Cavas don't seem to be on sale, you might if you're lucky come across them in independent wine merchants, if you do then pick up a bottle and treat yourselves.

Juvé y Camps
Raventós i Blanc




Happy supping.  Adeu