‘Champagne’ taste on a ‘beer’ budget?


Cheers, Salud, Cin Cin, Prost, Sante...

My injury effected my sense of taste, food I once adored, now alien to my palate. Even my sweet tooth has been sidelined for the more savoury & spicy! I also noticed when it came to drinking alcohol, I could barely tolerate anything with a hint of sweetness, opting for the driest of beverages. I am however, grateful that I have been able to still enjoy my favourite drink – ‘bubbles’. Without its versatility & levels of dryness, I doubt I would have been able to continue with my love affair!

So, if like me your preferred tipple is a flute of bubbles & you just don’t have the cash to splash?  I do believe I may have an answer!

…Spanish Cava!

I enjoy research, but I enjoy Champagne more!  Over the years, I set about testing various champers at varying price points.  I soon came to the realization that I needed to spend more than I wanted for an everyday palate pleasing champagne.  Horrified at the thought of not being able to afford to keep myself in the taste I was fast becoming accustomed to – I decided to advance my champagne wings a little further a field.  A sommelier friend recommended I taste test Spanish Cava, so on the advice of my friend & hours of research I discovered to my absolute delight the taste sensation of ‘Cava’ and that, my friends, was over 15 years ago!

Spanish Cava

As with Champagne, Cava comes in varying levels of sweetness, my preference is for the drier (BRUT) variety. Freixenet (pronounced ‘fresh-en-net’) Cordon Negro is probably the most popular in the market place. Typically Cava does not cellar for too long – which is fine by me, after all this is my regular tipple 🙂

What is the history behind this sparkling mystery?

Quite simply, it is Spains’ equivalent to Frances’ Champagne* – made in the “méthode champenoise” or “Champagne method.” Cava, the term comes from the word used to describe the caves where it was traditionally made.
(*only wines made in the Champagne region of France may be called Champagne)

Josep Raventós Fatjó of the Codorníu estate is said to have been the first to produce wine made in this method in 1872. He was so happy with the wine he made, that he ordered a cool cellar or cava dug in order to produce more sparkling wine. In a few short years, the family introduced their first bottles of cava to the public. It was an instant success, particularly with high society. Soon, sparkling wine from the Codorníu estate was being sent to the Spanish royal family.

I have listed below some of the labels you are likely to see in your local wine / grocery store

  • Codorníu – As I mentioned, the oldest and largest cava producer, with a variety of products available. If you are looking for something special, the company released a new product Gran Reserva Gran Codorníu, which according to the legal definition of a Gran Reserva has spent 30 months in the bottle.
  • Freixenet – A large cava producer, with a variety of products available. The most popular (and higher quality) is the dramatic-looking Cordon Negro, which is a Brut cava and comes in a black bottle, with gold lettering on a black label. Also sold in a black bottle, but with silver accents is the Gran Cordon Negro, a Brut cava and somewhat better quality.
  • Castillo Perelada – Again a large & established producer of cava with a variety of products available, including rose. The most popular of the Perelada family is the Brut Reserva & the Brut Nature.
  • Segura Viudas – is a relative new-comer. The winery was established in 1950 and sold their first wines publicly in 1959. They produce a variety of sparkling wines, their premier product being Reserva Heredad, which is sold in a bottle with a highly decorative metal ring around the bottom of the bottle and a metal crest on the side.

Here’s the rub…
The cost of a good Spanish Cava will be most favourable in comparison to French Champagne.

So, would it be fair to purport Spanish Cava as being a good alternative to Champagne? In my opinion – absolutely 😀

Of course Champagne for many people will always be the preferred option
& if I had free flowing money I would have free flowing ‘Cristal’!

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