Cava is second in the world for sparkling wine sales, and like Champagne (number 1 in the world for sales), it is made using the traditional method. However, while the method for making the sparkling wine may be the same, the grape varieties and the climate of the growing region for Cava are very different. Traditionally, Cava is made with 50% Macabeo (crisp, fresh acid), 30% Xarel-lo (elegance, body, structure), and 20% Parellada (creamy, soft body and delicate aromas) grapes. The climate in Spain is also significantly warmer than the climate in the Champagne region of France. On a very basic level, the Cavas we tasted were much brighter and fruitier than many Champagnes I’ve had, although both have toasty, yeasty characteristics that come from using the traditional method.
Tasting #1 on Day 2
Freixenet Cordon Rosado Brut (winery, snooth)
50% Garnacha & 50% Monastrell
Medium pink with a lot of persistent bubbles
Strawberry, raspberry, toast
A touch of creaminess and almost floral finish in the mouth
Very refreshing, good acidity with a slight sweetness
Juvé y Camps Brut Rosé Pinot Noir (winery, snooth)
Bright red fruits, ripe strawberries, and toast
Very dry and creamy with a slightly bitter finish
Tasting #2 on Day 2
Gramonae III Lustros Gran Reserva (winery, snooth)
50% Macabeo, 40% Xarel-lo, 10% Chardonnay
Pale gold with small bubbles
Cream, buttered toasted, baked apples, caramel, pears on the nose
Apples, pears, bitter herbs in the mouth
Very different and very complex
Not my style, but good quality
Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut (winery, snooth)
Pale gold with small persistent bubbles
Granny smith apples, pears, toast, yeast, and a touch of herb
Light body, lime-like acid and a long, lingering, yeasty finish
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva (winery, snooth)
Pale-to-medium liquid gold with lots and lots of bubbles
Green apples, toast, yeast, touch of basil
In the mouth, the balance between the fruit and toast flavors is very refreshing
Light-to-medium body, very dry, high acidity
Aria Estate Segura Viudas Brut Nature (winery, snooth)
60% Macabeo, 20% Xarel-lo, 20% Parellada
Pale straw color with small, persistent bubbles
Green apples and rosemary with a touch of apricots, toast, and yeast on the nose
Apples, nectarine, and toast in the mouth
Creamy full body, but not aggressive
2004 Juvé Reserva de la Familia Brut Nature (winery, snooth)
33.3% Macabeo, 33.3% Xarel-lo, 33.3% Parellada
Medium lemon, flirting with gold
Sourdough bread, apples, touch of oak, sherry-like finish
Medium body and good acidity
Isn’t crisp, but is still beautiful.
*According to Jesus, this is one of the most traditional brands of Cava. The company uses slightly oxidized wines for dossage, which creates a flavor that shouldn’t be confused with the wine being “cooked.” Jesus said that this is a favorite of “old men in Spain.”
Great description of the difference (and similarity) between Champagne and Cava.
Aria Estate Segura Viudas Brut Nature at $11 bucks and 4.5 corks -You've sold me. I'll be looking for this one!
restaurant refugee says
Any day that begins with bubble is, by definition, a good day… you should see me on Prosecco Fridays.
Lauren…thanks for the compliment!
Mark…my thoughts exactly! Overall, I've been very impressed with the quality/price ratio of the Spanish wines. And the Cava is definitely a steal at $11.
RR…Prosecco Fridays, huh? What a great way to start the weekend early. If only every Friday could be Prosecco Friday!
Karol Sedbrook says
It and we all most could comprehend this!
Champagne and cava difference is new for me.