Category Archives: Tasting

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!

 

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?

The Big Cava Charitytasting!

It is quite special to say the least to host a tasting for a hundred people, but special in the most posit
ive sense.

On the 4th of May I had the privilege to host a tasting at Norrlands Nation in Uppsala, where all funds collected went directly to the renovations of the nations great hall. Im happy to say that we collected over 20 000 SEK! So thank you so much to all of you who came!

A SUPER BIG THANK YOU also goes to the four cava producers that made it all possible!! Vilarnau, Alta Alella, Castell D’Age and Juvé y Camps! You are the BEST!!

 

People were very excited upon arrival and sat down at tables of eight, together with both friends and new acquaintances. After an introduction of the renovations needed in the great hall preceded by Gustav, Norrlands nations representative, we started up with a short history of the region and rules about cava in general.

We did the tasting in two flights, starting with Vilaranau Brut Nature and Privat from Alta Alella. While I was giving the background on the two cavas, and also introducing more facts about the three signature grapes of cava, everyone started sniffing and comparing. It was clear that people were enjoying themselves from the discussions that emerged. What was especially mentioned with the two wines was the fruitiness and roundness of Vilarnau that many people liked, while the Privat was appreciated for its freshness and clean style.

The next flight was started with AnneMarie from Castell D’Age, but closely followed by Reserva de Familia from Juvé y Camps, for people to be able to compare more aged cavas. While everyone was sniffing and tasting, I talked bit about the difference of the aging criteria when it comes to Cava and Champagne, and also what notes one can expect with increased aging.

Some of the guests that were used to drink Champagne were very surprised over the aging vs. price, and admitted that aged cava is remarkably good value for money, which cava-lovers know since long back. 😉

AnneMarie was appreciated very much for its elegance, while Reserva de Familia was liked for its well developed and round profile. Here we clearly had two groups with one who preffered AnneMarie and the other Reserva De Familia. But taking the two cavas personality in account I see this as a natural split in personal tastes, just as we found in the first flight.

Doing a small “Gallup” it was pretty clear that the people who preferred Vilarnau in the first flight, had Juvé y Camps as a favourite in the second. While the people who liked Privat also liked AnneMarie better in the second flight. On the whole it was a great event thanks to the happy and very interested crowd that came! I’m so happy and grateful that you all wanted to participate and made this possible!

CHEERS!!

 

 

 

Välgörenhetsprovning 4:e maj

Kom igen nu! Innan den 24:e april måste du och dina fina vänner anmäla er till välgörenhetsprovninigen på Norrlands! Vi siktar på att det skall bli den största cvaprovningen i Uppsala och troligen Sverige någonsin! Hjälp oss att fylla gamla salen och skrapa ihop lite pengar till renoveringsfonden. Utlottning av fina priser blir det dessutom som bonus! Komsi komsi!

“To uproot one would be to uproot ourselves” The story of a vineyard

Since I will have the great opportunity to host a very special prestige tasting on Wednesday, where Turó d’en Mota will be one of the cavas we will taste. I thought I’d publish the article I wrote on this extraordinary cava for Glass of bubbly last year.

“To uproot one would be to uproot ourselves” The story of a vineyard

The first time Ton took us up to see Turó d’en Mota, I did not want to leave. There is something very special about this vineyard and it cannot be explained, you have to go there. Some people would perhaps say that it is a blessed place, spiritual or full of positive energy, if they experienced what I do when I go there. I will just say that it is something very special about this vineyard that makes me relate to it in a way I have never done, to any other patch of earth planted with vines.

Turó d’en Mota means “the hill of the Mota Family” and was planted in 1940. The vines are crocked, thick and seems to have lived a good but hard life, and every one of them has an appearance and personality so they could easily all have individual names. The plot is not big, only 0.97 hectares and a couple of years ago the vines growing there were sadly and abruptly decreased.  
Apparently it had been raining that night, and someone was out “skidding” with their car on the muddy roads around the vineyards and crashed into Turó d’en Mota, taking about ten vines with them in the crash, if I remember correctly. Unfortunately these vines were not as lucky as the driver to make it out of this crash alive.
How do you explain to someone how much these vines mean to the family that owns them, how do you explain what they are worth, how irreplaceable they are? Ton once said that “To uproot one would be to uproot ourselves”, which might give a glimpse of what he must have felt when he found out about what had happened.

I’m glad though that this vineyard has lived 76 years this year and that most of it is still intact, because that means that we will be able to continue to enjoy the wonderful cava coming from its vines. It is, my friends, something out of the ordinary.
About 3000 bottles comes out of the approximate 4 400 kg of xarel-lo grapes harvested yearly by hand. Fermented first in oak for two weeks and later aged for a minimum of 120 months in the Recaredo cellars, this cava is unique in so many ways. When the first vintage (1999) came out, it was the first single vineyard cava ever made, and also the first monovarietal cava made from the xarel-lo grape. It is a perfect expression of the land it grows on, and you can clearly smell and taste the calcareous soil, the rosemary, thyme and fennel growing on the hill just next to the vineyard, and even though it is aged for over ten years, it is still fresh and vibrant.
So for all narrow-minded people who say that cava cannot be aged… they have clearly not tried Turó d’en Mota. 

Now it has been at least three years since we last visited this fantastic plot and I must honestly say that I miss it. Every time this year when we have driven passed the exit road leading up to Turó d’en Mota, just outside Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, I have thought that “Next time” we will take that exit and just drive up to say “hello” and see how the vines are doing. But no, that never happened, and now I sit here in cold Sweden with -15 C outside and can’t stop thinking if my friends the vines by the hill, will see any snow this year? I think they would like too.

“Turó d’en Mota is a way of explaining our history; it is a memory, a way of relating to each other, of getting to know one other. Above all, it is a chance to appreciate a landscape.” -Ton Mata