What a pretty bottle -Elyssia, Spanish sparkling rose

Denise, would you like to come round to mine on Saturday for dinner? I can never resist a dinner invitation, especially if it’s from a good friend and so I found myself, on time for once, on the doorstep of my friend Luiz’ house with a bottle of the new Freixenet rosado sparkling wine, the Elyssia Pinot Noir Brut in hand. Freixenet, the Spanish cava usually found in it’s iconic black bottle with gold lettering is now launching a sparkling rosado wine. Freixenet has long been a big player in the cava stakes, being part of the Codorniu group, it has a wealth of expertise, state of the art wineries and plenty of marketing muscle behind it to launch a rosado sparkling on the market. The Elyssia is a blend of 85% pinot noir and 15% trepat which is a varietal native to Catalonia, it is often used in cava blends to give a uniquely Catalonian spin to the wines. We decided to have the Elyssia as an aperitif. When I pulled out the box, there were lots of oohs and ahhs, they definitely have not skimped on the marketing. The box it comes in is very smart, a soft pink with a defining silver stripe running down the middle, it looked like a very expensive champagne box. The bottle is also well posh, clear and in the shape of traditional champagne bottles, it looked very pretty sitting on the table. So how did it taste? Well, it was fine as an aperitif. I didn’t really find much in the way of defining characteristics. It was a pleasant little bit of sparkle to the evening but I thought it should have been a bit more flavourful. Seeing as it’s a pinot noir brut, I was expecting lots of red berries and red fruits on the nose and palate but didn’t really find much on either. A pleasant sparkly, not offensive in any way. I’ve had other Rosado cavas from Spain and this one, well...

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“Brut Nature” Cava from Montau de Sadurni

Here is another wine from Casa Leal that I got to try when I was sidetracked into the Restaurant Trade Show but rather then a Portuguese wine, it’s a cava from Penedes. The cava is produced by Montau de Sadurni.  The Sadurni family have been growing grapes near the village of Begues, 15 miles from Barcelona, since the 16th century and probably been making wine just as long but they have been marketing their wines and cavas under the Montau label since 1987. The Arrels Montau de Sadurni is an extra dry reserve cava, we jokingly referred to it as a “diet cava” as it is a brut nature because it has only 2 gr/litre of sugar – now that is what I call a skinny cava! The cava is produced in the champagne methode meaning it is fermented twice, in vat and then in bottle, aged for 2 years and then sent on it’s merry way. Cava is usually made from xarello, parellada and macabeu and this is no exception. I really liked this cava, lovely, aromatic notes of baked apples and dried figs it had a certain creaminess on the nose that carried onto the palate – nutty, briochy, no bitter notes which can be found in cava sometimes, with spritely bubbles that weren’t too aggressive. A clean finish to round it off.  11.5% alcohol. The family only produce 40,000 bottles a year and it’s going to be retailing here in the UK for £8 so snap some up if you see it. Available from Casa Leal Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Codorniu Cava

Working for a big wine merchant does have it’s advantages. Tuesday night the company invited the winemakers from Grupo Codorniu to come down and have a chat and informal tasting with us. There were about 25 of us from various London based shops. Grupo Codorniu is a Spanish owned and operated winery group based in northeast Spain, although they do have holdings in Argentina and Napa Valley as well. Codorniu  is one of the big boys in cava production. Cava (Catalan for “cellar”)is produced the same way as champagne but can’t be called champagne because you know how those Champenois are, they’d start howling bloody murder about copyright infringement and the lawsuits would be flying thick and fast. Codorniu have been in the wine biz since the 1500’s but have “only” been making cava since  the 1870’s. They were one of the pioneers in the commercialization of Spanish sparkling wine and have recently brought in a whole new winemaking team to improve their products.  One of the changes they’ve made is an overhaul of their bottle design. Very sexy now. There’s something almost primal about the design of the bottle that compels you to pick it up, the slender neck, the way it flares out at the bottom and the sleek feel beneath your fingers. I’m not the only one who’s had this reaction to the bottle design. I’ve heard quite a few comments in the shop regarding that. Kudos to the bottle designer on that one. Back to what’s INSIDE the bottle. In Spain, the main varieties used are indigenous – xarello, macabo and parellada. Recently, they’ve started using chardonnay and pinot noir although they are again prevented by EU law from putting pinot noir on the label except for pinot rose. The Tasting: Condesa Blanca Cava is their entry level sparkling. Light and fruity, big bubbles that disappeared fairly quickly, lots of green apple and pears with a hint of nuts and toast on the finish. I was pleasantly surprised at how good this was,...

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