Some background from Wikipedia: Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine of Denominación de Origen (DO) status, most of which is produced in Catalonia. It may be white (blanco) or rosé (rosado). The Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo are the most popular and traditional grape varieties for producing Cava. Only wines produced in the méthode champenoise may be labeled Cavas; those produced by other processes may only be called "sparkling wines" (vinos espumosos). About 95% of all Cava is produced in the Penedès area in Catalonia, with the village of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia being home to many of Spain's largest production houses. The two major producers are Codorníu and Freixenet.
According to Spanish law, Cava may be produced in eight wine regions: Aragon, the Basque Country, Castile and León, Catalonia, Extremadura, Navarra, Rioja or the Valencian Community. The Penedès is located in Catalonia, and there is only one Castilian producer, in the town of Aranda de Duero.
To make Rosé Cava, small quantities of still red wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha or Monastrell are added to the wine. Besides Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo, Cava may also contain Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Subirat grapes. Like Champagne, Cava is also produced in varying levels of dryness: brut nature, brut, brut reserve, sec (seco), semisec (semiseco), and dolsec (dulce).
The wines - as always tasted blind with the reveal after:
1. NV Marques de Monistrol Seleccion Especial, blend of Pinot Noir and Monastrell - This Rosé was a lovely salmon/peach color with varied size bubbles. The nose was full of baked bread and strawberry. On the palate, soft but sour cherry, strawberry and citrus ended with a slightly pithy bitterness. Marya thought the bottle was corked, but none of the rest of us tasted TCA. $8 at Total Wine & More
2. NV Segura Viudas 'Aria' Brut - Clear straw color with medium persistent bubbles. The nose smelled of white flowers and green apple and honey. In the mouth, the mousse was crazy, tart and crisp, with tones of lime and tart green apple. The finish was perfectly formed with good minerality and acid. Definitely a food friendly wine. $8.99 at Total Wine & More
3. NV Rondel Brut - Big, happy bubbles with clear straw color. Yeasty notes on the nose. On the palate it was kind of one-note grapefruit and another bitter aftertaste. Was better with food. $8.99 at Total Wine & More
4. 2010 Kila Brut - Very persistent mousse, tiny bubbles! Clear, green-gold color. It smelled soapy to me, with lemon overtones. In the mouth there was slightly sweet lemon/lime, ripe yellow apple (thank you, Debra, for that note!), wet stone and a nice salinity on the finish. Debra wanted more acidity. We thought it might be older than the others, and the fact that there was a vintage date on it was interesting to us. $8 at Pavilions
5. NV Jaume Serra Cristalino Extra Dry - Clear, yellow-straw color with big bubbles. Yeast on the nose gave way to a buttery, smooth and creamy texture in the mouth. We wondered if there was Chardonnay in it, but no. Marya liked it. I wasn't sure I'd want to drink too much of it. Xochitl was dismayed to discover that a wine previously her "go-to" inexpensive sparkler was not to her taste that night. $5.99 at Pavilions
6. NV Anna de Codorníu Brut, blend of 70% Chardonnay/30% Parallada - Clear, small bubbles made a persistent mousse with a yeasty nose, and lots of green apple and tangy layers. The best of the night so far. Very light and easy to drink. $10.99 at Total Wine & More
7. NV Albero Brut - Deeper gold in color than the other wines, the medium persistent mousse opened up aromas of bread, cloves and stinky feet. We mean that in a good way. Shawn said he smelled gorgonzola cheesiness in it. Maybe it was a little older, or maybe because it was certified organic? In any case, it was a nicely layered wine with white pepper and cumin on the finish. $6 at Trader Joe's
As we moved on to dinner provided by Xochitl, Michelle pulled out a bottle of NV Piper Heidsieck - just because she could - and we all agreed that, while the value-priced Cavas we enjoyed were tasty and very drinkable, there is nothing like real Champagne. So sue me.
Thanks to Xochitl for hosting and feeding the Wineaux! Next month, in honor of the High Holidays, we're going to taste wines from Israel. Cheers!