I love diversity, that’s why I love cava

The diversity within the DO Cava is both a blessing and a curse, and many people working with cava would agree on this. I choose to see the positive side. So what is actually so great about it?

Well let me explain…

The biggest reason for the great diversity among cava is the fact that nine grape verities that can be used, more to choose form right there. Xarel.lo, macabeu and parellada are the most common verities and make up the backbone in traditional blends. Many people would say that this trio is the soul of cava and what makes it so special. But you also have chardonnay and malvasia among the white grapes allowed. When it comes to the red verities there are trepat, garnacha, monastrell and of course the very popular pinot noir. Since it is now allowed to make blanc de noire also in the DO Cava, with trepat as only exception, the possibilities are many. In my opinion all these red grapes make a great spread of rosé cavas, from the elegant salmon pink to the fruity bright raspberry coloured, that can be enjoyed and used in combination to endless types of food.

The three age classes from the minimum ageing of nine months, to the reserva at a minimum of fifteen months and the gran reserva at thirty months or more, are also one aspect that widens the range of choice. Unfortunately many people only know the very young products and think that this is the only way to have cava. Numerous times I have met wine people and even fellow sommeliers that think that cava cannot be aged, and nothing could be further from the truth. Some even say that the local grapes don’t have the structure to age in a good way, and to those I can very much recommend a trip to the cava houses of Gramona, Recaredo, Juvé y Camps or Castell San Antoni, just to mention a few.

One other aspect that contributes to the wide spread of choice with in the cava family is the price range, and this is a very debated subject. Mass produced or high end, the choice is yours. I’m not saying that this wide spread is all good. But if you exclude the very cheapest bottles from the discussion, I do think it is great that you can find a cava that suits your taste, the occasion and your wallet. Because to be honest, most of us are not made of money and can’t drink 50 Euro bubbles every day, at least I can’t. And one thing that you can be sure of is that you very often get extremely good value for your money, since the land prices and production costs are so much lower in Penedès then say Champagne.

So my dear friends, if you have not already dived in to the sea of great cavas out there and enjoyed the diversity. I highly recommend you to do that as soon as possible and I’m absolutely positive you will find some favourites.

Cheers and happy hunting!

 

Torelló -Where tradition meets perfection.

Driving from Sant Saduní d’Anoia, we take the winding road up towards Gelida. Like so many times before we turn left at the sign marking the private road leading to Can Martí de Baix, and the Torelló winery. This time the sign looks older and the paint has started to fall off a little bit. The road finds it’s way down between the vineyards and silver leafed olive trees, and I recognise one of the old tractors ploughing in between the vines. Harvest is over for this year and it is time for the old vines to get some rest before the pruning starts in January. We drive over the bridge that takes us over the motorway, leading between Barcelona and Tarragona, but funny enough we hear nothing of the sounds from the AP-7 when we have taken the last dive leading down to the old property. I almost forgot how peaceful it is down here in the valley.

Can Martí de Baix, is a unique Catalan property and the Torelló family has been growing grapes here since 1395, and you can really feel the history echoing in the cellars and halls when walking around.

The first time we visited Torelló, Andréas and I, were struck by all the details. The old cellars and the stones that make up the walls, the old vines that has been pulled up out in the vineyards and kept as decorations in the cellars, which always reminds me of life and how we all grow older. I must admit that the cellars here are my all time favourites. I never grow tired of walking up and down the narrow corridors of bottles, listening to Toni telling the Torelló story. Toni, together with his brother Paco are running Torelló, together with their parents, and are by doing so continuing a tradition that has been kept within the family since the Middle Ages, actually now on the 23rd generation. It is really incredible when you think about it, and I once asked Toni what would have happened if he and Paco had wanted to pursue other careers? Smiling he answered that luckily neither of them wanted to do anything else. The vines and wines are in their blood and they belong here. Lucky for us I must say, because without the Torelló cavas, the world would be a much duller place.

The family only grows their own grapes both for wine and cava, and there is nothing they don’t do themselves, through out the process. Their long winegrowing tradition has thought them how the lands around Can Martí works and how the vines should be kept for the optimal quality. They grow xarel-lo, macabeo, parellada, chardonnay, pinot noir and garnacha for the cava production and another five varieties for their still wines.  All the grapes are grown ecologically and of course picked by hand. They are also sorted a second time when they arrive at the winery to make sure all the damage grapes are taken out. The pressing is then done with nitrogen in the press to avoid any oxidation in the base wine. This is especially important since Torelló only produces Reserva and Gran Reserva cavas.  With most of their production aging for more than 30 months, it is especially important to avoid oxidation if you want to keep the fruity freshness when the cava grows older.

They do succeed in my opinion, since the cavas coming from Sant Martí always hold a very high quality. Like distinguished ladies they carry their age with grace and never lose their finesse, elegance or ability to intrigue.

Lable or content? – How do you judge your bubbly? …Honestly?

I love blind tastings. I love them because they are so honest. There is just the wine and your taste buds, nothing else to lean back on.

Maybe I like this form of tasting because I’ve never felt the pressure to ”like the right stuff”, so I can really relax and be honest. But the wine world is a curious place and not always that welcoming if you don’t have the right skills or opinions. This makes people nervous and I guess that might also be the reason for many to avoid blind tastings. It can be such prestige to name the wines by grape, producer, vintage or what ever is the task at hand. In my opinion that is not what’s interesting, and it has never been my goal to be good at that kind of thing. I focus instead on what I like, and helping others in finding what they like, and that I’m really good at.

Hosting blind tastings I always have one goal, namely finding out what people really like when they turn just to themselves and stop caring about labels, price tags, and ”know-it-all” wine people telling them what is good and what is not. Getting people to do this can be rather tricky though, for there is a notion that you should like certain types of wine to ”have good taste”. For example, to admit that you don’t like the certain style that Champagne has… that takes guts. Because by doing so you basically break every social code there is. Champagne is the essence of passion, glamour, good taste, luxury ect. And by saying you don’t like it, you kind of put your self out of all those contexts too, and who does not want to be glamour’s and have good taste?

So making people let go of all these preconceptions and instead focus on what they like (or maybe don’t like) about each wine, is much more interesting. During these tastings lively discussions always break out after a while when the participants has taken the task to heart. Some people like the ”peachiness” in one glass, others the high acidity in another or maybe the smell of roasted nuts in the third, and this is where it gets interesting. Because by letting consumers focus on what particular tastes or aromas they like in a wine, I can guide them in what style, grape, method or maybe area they might find more bubbly wines to enjoy. It simply makes the wine hunt easier.

In my personal opinion life is all about good wine, nice food and the company of those I love and like to spend time with. If the wine I drink costs 10 Euros or 100 Euros does not really matter as long as I like it, and it goes well to the food and or occasion. Sometimes it is cava, other times it is Champagne or sparkling from South Africa.

And if you think about it too, would you not honestly be happier to drink something that you really love, rather than something someone else really loves or says is good taste?

Time for PINK!

Now summer is really getting close and today with the super nice weather we had I just thought I’d write a post about Pink, that I have planned for so long.

Yes indeed the rosé season is upon us for real (even though I’d happily drink rosé all year round), and the hunt has begun to find new favorites.
Here in Sweden we have been so lucky as to get Parés Baltà’s, Pink, on the shelves of the monopoly, and it has quickly become something that very often can be found in my fridge.

Pink is a wonderful rosé cava of the medium pale sort I’d say. Based on two white grapes, parellada 32% and macabeu 30%, it gets it color only from the 38% garnacha. I must say that it is a great blend. The Parellada gives it elegance while the garnacha naturally brings the read fruits. The macabeu on the other hand must be the reason why this blend does not “tip over” with ripe strawberries, raspberries and alike, like so many rosés do, leaving you with a “jam-like” taste on the tongue. Pink stays elegant, balanced and fruity, with a nice finish, and jam is really the last thing on my mind!
I’d say that Pink is a lovely cava just to enjoy the way it is, in the afternoon sun, but I’m sure it would go well to lots of sallads and many types of tapas.
And by the way… don’t be fooled by the white control mark on the cork, it is really aged for 18 months, and hence a Reserva, although a very vibrant sort.

Here in Sweden it is a real bargain too, only 99 SEK, which is good value for money in my opinion. And I forgot to mention that it is hundred percent ecological/biodynamic!

To be honest I had a glass after my run yesterday evening. I thought I had earned it. 

If you’d like to see what Parés Baltà has in their portfolio in general you can find all the info you need at: http://www.paresbalta.com

Intervju med mig själv

Jag gick igenom lite filer på datorn och hittade denna intervju, som jag gjorde för en tidning förra året tror jag. Jag tycker att det är så bra frågor så jag tänkte att det får åka upp på bloggen.

Vad är det som gör cava så bra?

Det finns både bra och dålig cava precis som det gör med allt annat. Jag uppskattar cava, dels för att jag gillar de traditionella cavadruvorna, xarel.lo, macabeu och parellada, men också för att det finns sex andra druvor som är tillåtna att använda. Detta ger en enormt smakspektra inom DO Cava. Sedan är självfallet det faktum att all cava är gjord med traditionell/champagnemetod något som jag finner väldigt tilltalande.

Men vinsnobbarna ha svårt att älska cavan, eller?

Jo vist är det så. Men det förefaller vara så att dessa personer inte har smakat välgjord, långlagrad cava, framför allt inte i blindtest.  Husen Gramona och Recaredo har båda produkter som ”tagits för champagne”, så jag tycker nog att det finns anledning att vara lite mer ödmjuk.

Är den underskattad?

Absolut, det tycker jag. Det finns otroligt mycket välgjord cava som är mycket prisvärd och intressant. Men sedan måste man ha i åtanke att det också finns mycket massproducerad ”bulkcava”, som man inte skall låta styra ens åsikt om cavakategorin som helhet. Det gäller att hitta pärlorna.

Är cavan från Katalonien alltid bättre än cavan från andra håll i Spanien?

Det beror ju på vad man gillar såklart. Men det finns en stor skillnad har jag märkt. I Katalonien är fokus helt på cava hos producenterna, med vissa undantag som Torres. I Katalonien gör producenterna cava, och ibland med något stilla vin som kompletterar portföljen. Utanför Katalonien är fokus främst på vin, med någon enstaka cava som kompletterar vinportföljen. Jag är helt övertygad om att man blir bättre på det som man har som sitt fokus och huvudproduktion.

Kan den mäta sig med champagne, någonsin?

Ja

Är detta enkom en utpräglad aperitif eller går det bra med mat också?

Personligen dricker jag mest cava till mat, så absolut funkar det. Men det beror ju på vad man äter och vilken cava man har tillgång till. Jag väljer ofta vällagrad Gran Reserva och kraftigare typer av cava rent generellt, vilket inte alls är signifikant för produktionen i allmänhet. Vällagrad Gran Reserva är inte helt lätt att få tag på via systembolaget, som är mer inriktade på det billigare och lättare sortimentet, som är mer passande till aperitif.

Om du skulle beskriva cava med tre ord, vilka skulle de vara?

Varierande, prisvärt och spännande.

Har du någon favoritkombo cava-mat? (Du får gärna vara specifik.)

Mitt enklaste tips är en salami som går att köpa i nästan alla stormarknader, som heter Fuet. Denna är fet, nötig och mild och passar fantastiskt till cava i allmänhet, men kan jag få den till en välgjord Gran Reserva, gärna baserad på xarel.lo, så blir jag lycklig. Annars passar en välgjord brut nature (minst reserva) oftast mycket bra till Moules marinere.

Vilken är den bästa cavan just nu (ska finnas på Systembolaget, lägg gärna till artikelnummer och pris)

Gramona III Lustros kostar 325:- NR: 71915 på beställningssortimentet. En fantastiskt smakrik och välbalanserad brut nature cava gjord på 70% xarel.lo och 30% macabeu och lagrad i fem år. Underbart mjuk mousse med mogna gula äpplen i smaken, härliga toner av noguat, kex, fikon och örter. Ett bra exempel på hur prisvärt cava kan vara. En av mina långvariga favoriter faktiskt, så jag är mycket glad att den just nu finns på systembolaget, om än i begränsad upplaga.