Cava, the good and the ugly
Cava, the (generally) Catalan sparkling wine is a tricky beast and two little news items came about recently to illustrate this point incredibly well.
First, the ugly one which is that in this post-New Year’s, pre-Three Kings period, there are some supermarkets offering low-end Cava at the come’n get it price of a mere 1.35€ a bottle. Yes, 1.35€ a bottle. For this dash of couch cushion change you can pick up a bottle of Cabré & Sabaté from the mass market cellar of Jaume Serra (not to be confused at all with the Jaume Serra who is the owner of Masia Serra in DO Empordà.) But wait, you can also get the Bellisco from Bodegas López Maestras in Badajoz which is one of those oddball sparkling makers not in Catalonia/Penedès and is up against the border of Portugal. For those who have found that bubbly gives them massive headaches, bottles such as these are generally the reason. While the supermarkets are pricing them at a loss undoubtedly, they’re both generally quite cheap and to make cheap wine, you have to do not nice things to pull that off.
But to counter this, on the other end of the spectrum, there’s Raventós i Blanc whose elegant De la Finca 2010 was named as one of the 15 best sparkling wines in the world by Wines & Spirits. Naturally, this Cava is not to be found in the 1.35€ range and costs more like 15€. Still very affordable but not cheaper than bottled water.
So, can one say that price make a difference in Cava quality? Just like Champagne, yes, very much so and these two news items popping up at the same time show how wide the spread is in the world of Cava and why it’s so easy to get turned off to it if you base your Cava purchases upon, “Hey, 5€ bubbly, what a deal!”