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Cava. Spanish sparkling wine made in the traditional method. Elaborating further, the "traditional method" means that the secondary fermentation (where the bubbles come from) takes place in the bottle. Said bottle is then aged, Spanish rules for Cava requiring a minimum of nine months. There is no "Cava" in Spain, the word means "cave" and refers to the caves which were (and still are) used to age Spanish wine, both sparkling and still.
Right now the demand for Cava is soaring, mainly because it delivers good quality at a great price. This compares to Champagne which often delivers good quality at a high to "OH MY GOD" price. The Cava I was sampled on has a new label, one that states this Cava is in no way related to the Cristal Champagne made by Louis Roederer. I can see how people would get confused, because the bottles look so similar and the difference in price is only $10 for the Jaume Serra and $250 for the Cristal. Still, the legal eagles at Roederer didn't want their brand's image sullied by a high-quality-just-not-expensive sparkling wine so they sued. And won, as it were.
The Cristalino Cava from Jaume Serra comes from fruit sourced via contracted local growers and the estate's own vineyards. Jaume Serra's roots go back to the 17th century, so they've been making wine for a long, long time. Within the Penedes region, the grapes Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo are used for Cava wine production. Penedes is in Catalonia, the region of Spain just south of Barcelona, the city which held those lovely Olympics back in the Summer of '92. Forget that I was nine years old, wasn't the original Dream Team cool?!
Have I held your attention until now? Hopefully the answer is yes, because now we get to talk about how the Cava tasted!
I chilled the Jaume Serra Cristalino in an ice bucket for about 30 minutes prior to opening, not because it helps me taste better but because I prefer my sparkling wines to be cold. In the glass, a pale golden color with medium bubbles, clear and looking delicious.
Clean citrus on the nose, like a faint whiff of lemon cream tarte and a bouquet of flowers. I admit that for a lot of us, smelling a sparkling wine and getting more than two or three main flavors is tough. Or it is just tough for me to do and I'm trying to feel less inadequate as a blogger. Take your pick! Back on topic, I liked the nose, a lot. There was no complex orange peel mixed with bread dough and hints of star anise there, just a lovely floral note and the citrus, for me lemon tarte.
I sipped a few times before jotting down my impressions, that often happens with sparkling wines because I like to let the effect of the bubbles dissipate a bit. This wine was creamy and rich across the front palate with a very nice finish, it is just dry enough to leave you wanting more but at the same that ripe, rich sensation gives the Cava some depth and complexity. Good interplay between the acidity and body, which I'd characterize as a yeasty note. That's a good thing by the way, something I really enjoy in sparkling wines.
So my conclusion was the Jaume Serra Cristalino is an accessible, very tasty Cava. I gave it a B+, strong BUY recommendation. For under $10, you can't get much better and I look forward to tasting more sparkling wines in 2011. I recommend this as a good accompaniment to those massive plates of holiday hors d'oeurves that are a common sight at holiday parties. If you're sipping this without the party, try pairing it with potato chips (I kid you not!) or..get ready for it..fish tacos! Seriously, I got a couple of fish tacos from the place up the street from me and it was wonderful! Just don't put spicy salsa on the tacos, try the green salsa.
This wine was received as a sample for review purposes.