2006_09_food_cava.JPGIt’s not a secret that we love Spanish wines. In fact, if more than a week or so goes by without a glass or two passing our lips, withdrawal symptoms set in. Nothing too egregious, more like a longing that can only be satisfied by a glass of Cava and perhaps a little more cowbell. Cava, a sparkling wine from Spain, captures many of the characteristics that we love about Spanish wines – great minerality, complexity of favors and of course the fun factor. Cava doesn’t take itself too seriously. You don’t see triple digit price tags or the fancy perfume-like advertisements. However, made in the same method of Champagne, methode traditionnelle, Cava offers a great value for those looking to get their fix without mortgaging the casa.

At the Great Match Wine and Tapas event we attended this past week, presented by the Wines of Spain, we spent a great deal of time scouring the tables for some fine Cava. Actually we did not have to look that hard since there were about twenty to choose from. But surely if we had to, we would have.

Most of Cava is produced in the Cataolonia region in Spain, in the northeastern part of the country. Made from the Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada grapes, fairly unique Spanish varietals, Cava’s style and flavor has a distinctive flair. It is often described as having the aroma of burnt toast, but that’s just the beginning. Its crisp acidity is refreshing foil to a rich slab of jamon and, in good examples, you often find the finesse of decent Champagne.

After a long afternoon of tasting, with some occasional spitting (only when people were looking) we added a Cava or two to our list of favorites…

Castillo Perelada Reserva Brut, D.O. Cava, Around $10

Crisp acidity, tiny bubbles, creamy mouth feel with citrus notes of lemon and green apple with a slight toasty aroma.

L’Hereu Brut, D.O. Cava, Around $15
Notes of burnt toast, minerality and green apple with a delicate yet racy presence on the palate. Good quality with great complexity of flavors and aromas.

Cristalino Brut 2001, D.O. Cava, Around $15 (we also like the Non-Vintage –NV- version for only $9)
A great value with toasty and floral aromas. On the palate it unfolds with notes of pear, citrus and green apple.

We stumbled out of the event with that perfect high that comes from too much Cava balanced with moist little bites of shredded beef, chicken and pork on a delicate cushion of fried puréed potato pancakes (the tasty Spanish cousin to the latke). We were more than satisfied. At least for the time being.