I have a beer budget but I love French Champagne. James Bond loves Bollinger RD. Me, I have simpler tastes: Krug Grande Cuvée at $255 a bottle. Only kidding, Louis Roederer Brut Premier at $68 a bottle or Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin at $69 are two of my favourites. The problem is I seldom can justify popping their corks; great as they taste, its just not in the cards for this retiree. But Spanish cavas are! And the Segura Viudas Brut is one of my favourites. And its $17 a pop.
Cava is the Spanish equivalent to French Champagne...sort of. Since the 19th Century, Spanish winemakers in Penedès near Barcelona have been making sparkling wine (Cavas: they are aged in limestone caves) in the traditional Champagne method. After the first fermentation, the wine is bottled and then extra yeast and sugar is added, the bottle capped, and a second fermentation which produces the sparkle occurs. Unlike French Champagne, the Spanish do not usually use Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Instead they rely on native Spanish grapes most of us have never heard of: A cuvée of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo.
It is a medium light, refreshing, balanced wine with more character than other similar wines in this price range. You wouldn't call it rich, but neither would you describe it as wimpy. It hints at the classic combo of subtleness and complexity like French Chardonnays do. The bouquet has lemon and light toast; fresh but having depth. The flavour has the citrus element with toasty hazelnuts and there is a crisp lip smacking dry finish. It is actually blended from a dozen different wines, aged on the lees for over a year, and aged a further two years in the cavas before being released to the public. As a result, it is not a simple wine. Like Mona LIsa's smile, this wine is enigmatic and will get you coming back to appreciate its many delicate layers of personality.
Enjoy it on its own. At a recent party, I served it with homemade brioche (challah) with cream cheese, smoked sockeye lox, capers, red onions and dill. Good sparkling wines like this are perfect for all types of foods, from caviar to potato chips, and everything in between, including a nice soft Brie or Oka from Quebec.
Sparkling wines (including this Cava and Champagne) should be served very cold. Put it in the fridge for three hours. Take it out 5 minutes to take any iciness off the wine; you don't want to freeze your tongue! Chill your glasses in the freezer and the bubbles in your tall flute glass will keep their tiny persistent bead much longer. When I want a rosé, I usually add a small amount of red to the Segura Viudas and you have a lovely rosé! At $16, you can make any day of the week a cause for celebration!
Segura Viuas Brut Reserva: Fancy Fizz. Spain. $16,99, 11.5%
Cava/Sparkling Wine. Highly Recommended