Although in some parts of the country Old Man Winter is still hanging around, there is light at the end of the wintery tunnel. The south is beginning to see a thaw-out and “mum” has been the word on severe travel delays. It’s time to think ahead to spring; with its warm days and cool nights that allow for the flowers to begin their blossom and the grass to spurt out from its long winters’ absence. As your mind turns to the dreamy weeks ahead, let me tell you about a wonderful way to bring out the celebration of a new season.
POP…open a bottle of Cava! Cava is Spain’s wonderfully inexpensive and tasty sparkling wine. Made from Macabeo (a.k.a. Viura ), Parellada and Xarel-lo (pronounced charelo), cava is produced in the “champagne method” with the secondary fermentation in the bottle. I’ll tell you what that bottle fermentation does to the flavor but first let me tell you a little about the history of Cava and one of its stellar producers.
Cava has been around for almost 150 years; first produced as a replacement for the diminished champagne supply in the late 19thcentury as phylloxera ravaged French vineyards. By the time the little louse (phylloxera, that is) made it over the Pyrenees and began to eat away at Spanish vines, the cause and cure were known and damage was minimal. But the nature of cava had become renowned and consumers began to seek it out for its distinctive aromas and flavors and value.
Penedés in Spain’s Catalan region is considered the birthplace of cava and is today the center of cava production. Located less than an hour south of Barcelona, the Penedés is dotted with vineyards as well as cava houses, both young and old. One of the youngest and oldest is Heredad Segura Viudas. This cava house was founded in 1954, giving it its youthfulness, but its origins date back to the 11th century when it was established as a masia (a typical Catalan country house). Heredad means estate in Spanish and the Segura Viudas is one of the loveliest estates you will find with a mix of Visigothic, Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
Yet more amazing than the history of this Heredad is the cava they now offer to consumers around the world. Segura Viudas has a lovely line-up of cava including a rosé made with two indigenous red grapes and an estate reserve that is art in wine and wine in art. We’ll start with my favorite and Segura Viudas’ most popular the Brut Reserva.
The Segura Viudas Brut Reserva is the prime example of cava at its best. Made with the trio combination of Macabeo, Parellad and Xarel-lo, this sparkling wine is exactly what you’ll want to pour to chase those winter blues away. While you watch those little bubbles rise and explode at the top of your flute, your nose will catch floral whiffs mixed with pear and a nutty, toasty aroma. The wine is refreshing and almost cleansing on the palate making it an ideal pair to those springtime brunches that are sure to mark your calendar in the coming weeks and months.
You’ll wonder how Segura Viudas can follow up on such a lovely, bubbly concoction but they can and they do. Their Brut Rosé is made of 90 percent Trepat and 10 percent Garnacha. Trepat is native to the Tarragona area of the Catalan region and has thick skin, good acidity and medium alcohol content. Garnacha is most popularly known as Grenache but is nonetheless a native of Spain and offers the rosé a blend of fruity berry aromas and flavors. This is the one to pop open for those springtime picnics. Cold fried chicken, cheeses, crusty breads, snappy veggies and egg salad will all come to life when paired with the Brut Rosé. So will grilled salmon – it’s spring, time to grill again!
Last but not least, you’ll want to grab a bottle of the Reserva Heredad. This wine is highly concentrated with the Macabeo grape and rounded out with Parellada. Once you have this sparkling wine, you won’t soon forget it. Not only is the wine delicious with its foamy bubbles bursting with fresh flavor but the bottle is memorable; hand-blown glass emblazoned with the pewter crest of Segura Viudas rest on a pewter base adorned with grapes. The Reserva Heredad is lively and fruity with a toasty elegance that comes from the 30 months that the wine is aged. The extended length of time on its lees allows this wine to mellow and provide softer cantaloupe and bready flavors on the palate. This is the one you will pop open to sit under the stars; when the kids are asleep and the crispness of the spring night envelopes you while you muse of the coming season of baseball, cookouts and the great outdoors.
One of the reasons you’ll enjoy the Segura Viuda cavas and other sparkling wines made in the champagne method is because of the secondary bottle fermentation. What does this lend the wine? Those bread-like, toasty aromas and flavors as well as the refined texture of naturally created bubbles, bubbles with endurance and bubbles that pop open with flavor and finesse. There are other ways of making sparkling wine but for your springtime celebration you’ll want bubbles and flavors that mean business.