29-12-2017

Cava’s sweet spot

In a scant three days there will undoubtedly be countless people who will wake up wishing they’d had at least a glass or perhaps even a bottle less of the sparkling wine they indulged in for New Year’s Eve. Bubbly comes from all over the world these days but when it comes to parties, often cheapest is what reigns when it’s time to stock a big tub of ice with booze for the evening. This is of course a mistake as cheap bubbly will indeed tear you up as much as any other cheap alcohol, even if it’s just 11.5% ABV. I can easily attribute many a foul morning to having relatively little, albeit vastly underwhelming sparkling wine the evening before at some wedding or anniversary or whatever.

It’s why when I arrived to Catalunya, I wasn’t all that keen to indulge in Cava, the sparkling that sees 95% of its production originating in the region. There were of course glasses had here and there with celebrations but they did little to excite and no wonder as again, people were always going for the cheap end of it. Hell, during the holidays, you can really find cheap Cava in Spain with some of it dunking down to nearly 1€ a bottle. I shudder to think what must have been done to those poor grapes to pull off making a Traditional Method (aged in the bottle) style of wine.

Cava has excelled at producing great gobs of crappy bubbly and to this day, I would have probably been fully turned off to the substance were it not for two things: getting older as well as here and there finding out that there truly excellent, fine-wine Cavas exist. Sadly, they’re largely drowned out in a huge ocean of effervescent piddle but it actually takes very little to arrive at them as long as you can get it out of your soon to be throbbing head that a 5€ bottle of sparkling wine is a “great deal”.

Look, if that’s your thing and it makes you happy at a bonfire down on the beach, fine, but I know plenty of people who won’t touch Cava because they think it’s crap. This is obviously an even worse problem for quality-conscious Prosecco makers but I digress. There is however a very simple solution to finding good Cava: pay more than 12€ a bottle for it in Spain or whatever that equates to where you live once import and taxes are figured in. I can’t guarantee that every bottle at or above that price will be splendid but a fine wealth of them will be.

So this is how we get to a sample I received of Juvé & Camps Essential Xarel·lo 2015. This is an excellent bottle of sparkling and what’s that price? 12.50€ If you want to know not only what you can get for this price, but also what that extra little “oomph” I’m talking about that makes for “good” Cava. And then there’s the looming potential of the Xarel·lo grape. On top of that, it could even age a touch longer if desired. This bottle should come home with you not just for New Year’s Eve, but for most any day of the week when a bit of fizzy is what the self-prescribing doctor called for.

Juvé i Camps Essential Xarel·lo 2015
Light peach and apricot, mandarin blossom, delicate, chalky, and powdery mineral notes to the nose. Full and balanced on the palate, very much Xarel·lo but well balanced and without being too rigid and upright. Approachable for all wine drinkers.

100% Xarel·lo 12% 12.50€
**+