Cava makes a comeback with premium sparklers

Roger Goulart Gran Reserva Cava
Roger Goulart Gran Reserva Cava

A few years ago, the emblematic sparkling wine from Spain’s Catalonia region seemed to be on everybody’s shopping list.

We’re talking Cava, sales of which, in this country at least, seem to have been a little in the doldrums recently.

Partly due to fashion and partly the unrelenting efforts of the Prosecco pushers, Cava has been left on the shelf. This is a great shame since, unlike Prosecco, all Cava is made by the same method as champagne and has an inherent complexity.

However, all is by no means lost and Cava is re-asserting itself on the export market, particularly with Premium wines that offer so much more.

The Spanish certainly know a good thing when they see it – or taste it – and most of the higher-end Cava has been consumed on the domestic market. But with a number of initiatives from the producers, including a new classification to introduce a super-premium category, premium cava is now becoming more readily available.

A notable example is a wine that has recently been added to the CVNE portfolio, a company more often associated with quality rioja and other Spanish still wines. Roger Goulart Gran Reserva Cava 2011 is a very individual, artisan cava, which has undergone long-ageing on the lees, in cellars beneath a 100-year-old cathedral building.

Made from the traditional cava grape varieties of Xarel-lo, Macabeo and Paralleda, the 50 acres of vineyards are located near the village of Sant Esteve Sesrovires in the Alt Penedes region. Xarel-lo is indigenous to this region and is the main grape variety used, due to its structure and suitability to long ageing. The base wines are carefully selected and subject to a minimum of five years ageing. After 24 months during the second fermentation in bottle and then once a year after, the bottles are shaken to homogenise the yeast and give greater aromatic and taste complexity. The result is a delicate cava of light golden hue, with incredible sparkle and great complexity of aroma and taste.

Founded in 1882, since its earliest days, Roger Goulart has been committed to the production of long-aged cavas. Well above the minimum ageing requirements identified by the Designation of Origin Cava, their Gran Reserva is aged for double this requirement. The production is housed in an architectural masterpiece designed by Ignasi Mas i Morell, with more than a kilometere of wine cellars beneath. This amazing example of Modernism is a fitting environment for producing a high-quality wine for the markets of the future.

This is cava on a totally different level and was awarded a Gold medal by IWSC (International Wine & Spirit Competition) – no mean feat of achievement. Great intensity of white, stone fruit and wonderful complexity from the five years ageing on the lees. A creamy, fresh palate with toasty brioche on the nose and an elegant, complex, long finish.

The low dosage gives a freshness and zip to underly the harmonious flavours.

Retail price around £20 per bottle from independents such as Vino Wines, Islington Wines and the Leamington Wine company.

Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Twitter @richardwje. Visit www.winewyse.com.

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