Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Bubbly to Celebrate the End of Summer

Even if we no longer are a student, the end of August with its golden haze and cooler nights signals the end of  summer and the return to our Fall routines.  While we still have a week or so before September, its a good time to toast our fleeting summer with some bubbly. And while I would love to uncork some real French Champagne, being semi-retired means I look for more economical sparklers like our Cristalino Brut Jaume Serra. This is a Spanish Cava which means it is fermented with bubbles right in the bottle, just like Champagne. Plus, it is made from a strain of yeast from Champagne. And its a treat to taste and enjoy, just like Champagne.  But its only $12.99, not $60 or more!!!  

What's not to like?  Pop the cork (don't point it anyone) and your nose will delight in the bouquet of stone and tree fruit along with a toastiness found in most Cavas and Champagnes.  Swirl it in your mouth for a few moments to savour the sweet summer taste of peaches, nectarines, green apples. There is lots of flavour and complexity for a wine at this price. 

You can enjoy it on the patio by itself with tapas.  I often like to pour half a glass of Cava with half a glass of red wine to make a Sparkling red.  Or you can make a Kir Royale by adding about an ounce of French Creme de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) to a glass of Cava.  Or you can make a Spanish Bellini by adding some fresh peach juice to a glass of Cava.  Make sure the bottle is in the fridge for a couple of hours as you want it chilled.  If you want the tiny beads of bubbles to last a long time, store tall flute glasses in the freezer for 15 minutes before pouring the wine.

Wine & Spirits rated the Cristalino Brut Cava 88 points out of 100, which is an A grade.  It also rated the Jaume Serra winery Value Brand of the Year for the past three years.  Its relatively new on the market in BC but its a bargain, even for Spanish Cavas, and a real favourite of mine.

Cristalino Brut Cava from Jaume Serra.  $12.99, 11.5%, available in most LDB stores.
A Bubbly to Celebrate the End of Summer
Dry Sparkling Wine Highly Recommended

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Might Fine Fino!

As the summer continues to occasionally feel as hot as Spain, I have an urge to chill some dry Spanish sherry, make some gazpacho, and eat some tapas.  Sherries, to be called sherries, must come from Spain, down in the south-west corner, in the region known as Jerez.  Sherry is an Anglicization of the name, Jerez.  And while Sherries are relatively inexpensive considering the quality, their neighbour next door, in the region known as Montilla, makes them even cheaper.  While the quality is not quite as high as the wines from Jerez, the Montilla fortified wines are still worth trying and delicous in their own right!

Last weekend, I chilled an Alvear Fino Montilla.  This is a bone dry sherry....fino, Spanish for finest,  the driest and palest of the fortified wines in Spain.  Most Spaniards drink this type rather than the sweeter dessert wines,because  fino is so versatile with food, the Spanish love to eat and drink, and the British old ladies need the dessert sherries.   Served chilled, the Alvear is meant to be enjoyed with the tapas appetizers, bite sized snacks with serrano ham, manchego cheese, garlic prawns, stuffed olives, marinated red pimentos, tinned tuna...in other words with a real variety of food.

The Alvear has a bouquet of the salty ocean, along with hints of toasted almonds. The flavour is complex, dry fruit, nuts, green olives.  When I sip the fino along with the chilled gazpacho soup, the flavour takes on more of the stuffed green olive personality...its wonderful how a wine will develop a new flavour profile when eaten with food.  There is the tanginess that one gets when you dive into the ocean after a hot day at the beach and a savoury finish that lasts till sunset!

Alvear Fino Montilla, Spain, Mighty Fine Fino, Dry Fortified White
Spain, $14.99, 14%, Highly Recommended