Summer is here!! I can tell it's summer and not spring because the humidity shot up to around 60% or so today - perfect Cava weather!
And Just What Is Cava?
Last month, I posted a mini-rant about Champagne; I'll save you the gory details and jump to the punchline: Champagne is the region of France best known for their sparkling (i.e., bubbling) wines, and is also the *only* region that can name sparkling wine "Champagne" (or even "champagne"). So while we often call anything with bubbles in it "champagne", that's kind of like using a kleenex or making a xerox of something - we've made a generic term out of something that was once very specific.
What does this have to do with Cava? Well, the French aren't the only ones who make their own bubbly -the Germans make Sekt, the Italians make Spumante, and the Spanish make Cava! (The French even make other sparklers not from the Champagne region - these are known as Cremant).
What Makes Cava Different?
I love Cava. It's the perfect summer sipping wine - it's very clean and refreshing, nice and crisp with good acidity. What's somewhat unusual about Cava is the grapes it is traditionally made from: 40% Macabeo, 40% Parellada and 20% Xarel-lo in the case of this Casteller Cava. Never heard of those grapes before? Me neither - they're all mainly grown in Spain, and mainly used to make Cava (although Macabeo is an important grape in its own right in Rioja, where it goes under the pseudonym Viura; also, Macabeo seems to have snuck across the border and is also cultivated in Southern France).
Casteller Cava Brut
The Casteller Cava Brut is pale gold in color, with plenty of nice bubbles! It has a crisp, fresh flavor, with tastes of green apple, citrusy lime, and just a touch of sweetness. It lacks the "yeasty" flavor that I often associate with Champagne, which I think makes it taste cleaner, and makes it such a good summer sipping bubbly. Purchased for $14 at FineWine.com in Gaithersburg, MD, this Cava has a good quality-to-price ratio. I suspect if I bought this in Virginia, it's cost a couple bucks less, making it an excellent QPR.
Do yourself a favor - don't save bubbly only for "special occasions"! Or at the very least, be vague in your definition of "special" such that a nice summer day qualifies. Then go out and grab a Cava, pop it open and enjoy the bubbles and the beautiful day!