Spanish premium style bubbles

When people talk about Cava wine they always feel the need to compare it with Champagne (the same goes for Spumante or Prosecco). They mostly also see Cava (or prosecco or Spumante or any other sparkling wine) as an inferior product compared to Champagne. To my opinion the only things they have in common is the way they get produced and the fact they both have bubbles in them… besides that it are products that have their own style with their own identity and characteristics. That one prefers drinking Champagne over Cava (or another sparkling wine) or vice versa is a matter of taste and preference for a particular style (or that’s what it should be, not just because of the name of a product). This doesn’t mean I don’t like Champagne, I’m just saying there is more than only Champagne 🙂

Cava premium pic by CRC

A few weeks ago I joined a dinner hosted by the Spanish Ambassador to get to know the top segment of Spanish bubbles aka Premium Cava’s. The choice of restaurant for this dinner at ‘Le Chalet de la fôret’ didn’t come as an entire surprise knowing the restaurant recently added a new TOP member to their team. After working 4 beautiful years at the legendary restaurant ‘Comme Chez Soi’ my dear friend César Roman decided it was time for something new and joined the 2 Michelin starred restaurant ‘Le Chalet de la fôret’s team. I cannot imagine a better ‘ambassador’ for Spanish wines than César, he’s one very proud Spanish person 🙂 (who can blame him?). César’s aim at ‘Le Chalet de la fôret’ is making their wine cellar the most beautiful/best in Belgium…

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Did you know the following things about Cava? Did you know that yearly there are produced around 241 million bottles on over 33 352 hectares of land ? With 97% of the land being in the Sant Sadurni d’Anoia region, basically the area around Barcelona (to keep it simple). It also seem that Belgians are on the most important cava drinkers. There are 3 kinds of Cava: Cava (around 9 months of aging), Cava Reserva (around 15 months of aging)and Cava Gran Reserva (around 30 months of aging)?  Of the 241 million bottles I mentioned before 30 million are considered as Premium cava which are Special Cuvées, Reserva’s and Gran Reserva’s….

Types of cava

The biggest “problem” during the dinner was keeping up the pass :-). There were about 10 different Cava’s served during our 5 course meal. It might not seem a lot, but you would be surprised…. You probably think I will say I loved every Cava we were served during the dinner, to that I say no! There were some I preferred over others, but this doesn’t mean they weren’t good, they just were not my cup of tea…  (of course not, you were having Cava not tea 😉 OK, bad joke). We started and ended in the same way, with beautiful bubbles 🙂

Just FYI the full list of cava’s we tasted:

My preferred Cava’s of the night were the 2010 Núria Claverol by Sumarroca because of its complex brioche/almond/ smokey aroma’s with citrus accents and even hinds of pear… basically a rich cava with refined buttery touches 🙂 (butter = good). Fun fact, the bottles of the Núria are numbered… Another favorite is the 2012 Maria Del Mar Brut Nature  Gran Reserva by Pere Ventura that has a ‘creamy’ texture with more or less the fruity accents as the previous one, but this time more herbal tones as well. Next in my favorites list would be the 2004 Reserva Particular by Recaredo. I notice  loads of tropical fruits, ‘jammed’ citrus (like a marmalade), fresh bakery accents with sweet spices  with a very fresh and pleasant elegance with a medium long after taste… simply beautiful!! Last but not least the 2013 Subirat Parent Brut Reserva by Vilarnau. The last one is one that I think is the biggest ‘everybody’s friend’ of the whole evening as the other cava’s were more complex and therefor more special… The Vilarnau had a very fruity (lycee, peach) smell, the taste reminded me a bit of a tropical fruit salad 🙂 basically a very pretty and distinctive wine. I was surprised that eventhough of the premium Cava’s came from bigger Bodegas, they were not of lower quality!! SO basically size doesn’t seem to matter in Spain 🙂 😉 (just pointing out the facts)

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As we ate at a lovely restaurant like Le Chalet de la fôret something must also be said about the food?! In general you can say that ever dish looks like a picture and you can see the advanced way of cooking from the first look you give to the plate…however you do see that the chefs knows his basics as they come back in every dish (you need to know the basics before you can start experimenting). The first dish one the menu was (after some appetizers) a grilled cadoret Oyster from Bretagne, buckwheat  and iodée vinaigrette, followed by a seabass (line caught) salisfy, Jerusalem artichoke and a Xarel-Lo sauce . To continue with pheasant breast with white truffle, foie gras sauce, pumpkin variation and sautéed ceps. Followed by a melted Old Bruges cheese. To finish with a chocolate dessert with mushrooms. Yes mushrooms 🙂 I must admit that this was the strangest dish of all and not really my thing, but i finished it anyhow

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The dish that after 2 weeks is still the first image that pops in my head when thinking of Le Chalet is  the pheasant breast with white truffle, foie gras sauce, pumpkin variation and sautéed ceps. Maybe for that reason the Cava served with this (Particular de Recaredo Gran Reserva by Recaredo) was one of my favorites? Who knows 🙂

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The dinner wouldn’t end perfect without all the ‘friandises’ aka sweets that come with the coffee 🙂 The chefs have outdone themselves as I like every piece of the assortment 🙂 🙂

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An evening to remember!! In case you would want more info on Cava don’t hesitate to contact the Cava Rugulatory board as they will be able to answer all you questions 🙂

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