When the festive season begins many people turn their attention toward drinking 'bubbles'.
Of course, Champagne is the biggest name in the world of sparkling wine. Its reputation, its quality, its very protected name and denomination, as well as its very traditional production method, make it a favourite to bring to the Christmas table or to see in the new year.
We all know that good Champagne comes at a price so perhaps, after buying gifts for family and friends and attending various events throughout the festive season your wallet may be 'stretched a little thin' by the time you think about what sparkling wine to purchase. Focusing on a good Cava or Spanish Sparkling wine instead of Champagne could be the perfect option.
Traditionally, Cava has always been the ugly sister of sparkling wines. Cheap, drier than a desert and yet, full of sugar. However, this is changing and Cavas of high quality can now be found easily and in my opinion, can match the quality of certain Champagnes.
For whatever reason, many people are prepared to pay for a good Champagne, but when it comes to Cava they're only willing to pay 3€ for an 'off the-shelf' supermarket brand bottle of Cava. This is a big mistake as you do not have to pay as much as 30€ or 40€ for an amazing Spanish sparkling wine.
Most good Cava is produced traditionally, employing the same production method the French use when creating Champagne. This means a certain amount of sugar and yeast is added to each bottle of wine by hand to create a reaction that produces lovely bubbles. This is a costly and time-consuming process but results in a much better product than those made industrially in a vat.
The use of local grapes like Xarello and Perellada in Penedes or Viura in Rioja (also called Macabeo in the Mediterranean region), as well as the introduction of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, make Spanish bubbly an even more interesting prospect. In addition, it is possible to find Spanish sparkling wines made with alternative grapes such as Garnacha, Trepat, Verdejo and Albariño.
The name Cava can be confusing as it does not refer to a sole region (unlike Champagne). This is because, after a legal battle in the Spanish Courts it was decided that by law, sparkling wine from Rioja, Extremadura, Valencia and of course Cataluña could also be called Cava.
Here in Mallorca, a few of the more adventurous producers have made their debut with sparkling wine. The result is very varied, but in general, they are original and a touch exotic. Generally, they use the local Prensal grape which gives a fruity touch. The Mantonegro Blanc de Noir or Rosé are a must to try. It is even possible to find some ancestral method of sparkling wine on the island. This means that no sugar or yeast is added to create the bubbles!
Below are some recommendations that can be enjoyed with your friends and relatives throughout the festive season. They are sure to delight everyone around the table, whilst taking a step away from golden labels and big advertising campaigns.
- Sebastia Pastor Llampant Brut Nature. This sparkling wine is produced in a very small family vineyard and uses the local grape Prensal as well as some Chardonnay. Original!
- Gramona Imperial Brut Gran Reserva. This is possibly one of the most awarded in Spain. It has been aged for 60 months, and it is affordable and easy to find.
- Laieta Brut Nature Reserva. In an original shaped bottle, this organic delight is made to impress with its light flavour and crisp finish.
- Llopart Panoramic Gran Reserva Imperial Brut. With a long family tradition and vast knowledge, Llopart is a really good choice. This one in particular is within the mid-range of all their references. It has been aged for at least 48 months, with a creamy and well-balanced flavour that will satisfy the more exquisite palate.
- Raor Brut Nature. The best sparkling wine option in Mallorca. It is made using Perellada and Chardonnay grapes from the Felanitx region. Light and fresh, it will surprise you for sure!