Our wine expert Harry Ayres is not a fan of the Italian bubbly which seems to be taking over the world – but he loves its Spanish cousin and has some fantastic recommendations.
I struggle to understand the popularity of Prosecco, but then I’m also baffled by the passion for Pinot Grigio.
Both, at least in their most commonly found manifestations, are ineffably bland – that is to say, they taste of practically nothing at all – but I suppose they perform a function: they’re easily quaffed and cause little offence.
Spanish Cava, despite its dowdy image, is actually a far more interesting drink than Prosecco. For one thing, it’s produced by what used to be called the Champagne method, involving secondary fermentation in the bottle, rather than in a tank.
At its best, it has real depth and complexity – and those aren’t words you would apply to either Prosecco or Pinot Grigio.
There has been something of a renaissance around Sant Sadurni d’Anoia in Catalonia, the small town west of Barcelona where the majority of Cava is produced. To confuse matters a little, perhaps the most quality-conscious house –Raventós – has abandoned the denominación de origen Cava and gone its own way.
Four beautiful Cavas to try
Cava L’Atzar Brut Reserva 2015 has ripeness on the nose and some complexity on the palate – it’s excellent value (£10.99 per bottle from www.waitrose.com)
At a much higher level, Raventos i Blanc de Nit Rosé (pictured below) is pale onion skin in colour, crisp, pure and appley. (£23.95; www.bbr.com)
Raventós i Blanc de la Finca Brut (below) tastes rich and ripe on the palate – remarkably so, for a non-dosage wine – and dry on the finish (£84 per six bottles at www.bbr.com)
And finally, if you’re pushing the bubbly boat out then 2010 Raventós i Blanc Manuel Raventós Negra Brut is very special with biscuity richness and complexity (£270 per six bottles at www.bbr.com).
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