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Catavinos Newsletter - Vol 1 Ed 2 - Cava

Catavinos Newsletter - Vol 1 Ed 2 - Cava

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Published by: Ryan and Gabriella Opaz on Aug 08, 2010
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- 1 -All Content © Catavino.net Newsletter 2008 – Vol 1 Edition 2For more infowww.Catavino.netEmail questions/comments to comments@catavino.net
Catavino.net, bringing you Iberian Wines since 2005 
This month at Catavino, we took an in-depth look into the winemaking practices, styles and majorproducers of Cava. Being new to the idea of monthly themes, we thought it would be appropriate tomake December the month of cava. Silly us! We failed to make the logical connection that 50% ofCava is sold during the month of December and January to the quantity of time that cava producerswould have to talk to us. Therefore, this newsletter is a bit shorter than last months, containing lesstasting notes than we would have liked, but we’ll make up for it next year.In our following issues, we’ll be taking on larger themes andwith a more consistent set of issues. We’ll also move ourproduction down to a bi-monthly newsletter so that we mayinclude more tasting notes from a greater diversity of wine.Please let us know if there is something you would like tosee in future newsletters and we’ll do our best to get it inhere!
What did we Learn in December aboutCava?
By Gabriella Opaz
When we decided to dedicate the month of December tocava, we knew that the majority of you would most likelychoose Champagne over Cava. Don’t get me wrong, we areenormous champagne lovers ourselves, but we would havefailed as ambassadors of Spanish and Portuguese wine ifwe didn’t chime in with an alternative. So with our notebooksand cameras in hand, we traveled throughout D.O. Cava,interviewing winemakers, winery owners and officials alike,to gain perspective on the history, elaboration and culture ofcava wine.By the end of the month, I can safely say that we learned three very important lessons. First, of the270 cava producers existing, only 7 produce more than 5 million bottles a year occupying more than80% of the entire cava market. Although we knew Freixenet and Codorniu were large brands, wedidn’t realize what an enormous chunk of the market they controlled. Nor did we realize the diversityof wines that existed under the Freixenet label itself. Beyond Cordon Negro and Carta de Nevada, wewere clueless that they elaborated interesting and expressive high-end cavas. And although we had arelatively good idea that there was wide variety of smaller producers out there, we were shocked tolearn the range and quality of cavas that existed.Second, we learned that cava winemakers are emphatic that their cavas be served not only duringthe holidays, but also as a wine to be enjoyed on any day for any occasion. Sparkling wine has beentypecasted as the festive wine: a wine that can only be drunk among smiling faces and celebratorythemes. Additionally, it’s an aperitif wine, reserved for a quick clinking of the glasses and brief sipbefore a speech. It’s sad really, when considering all the fantastic options we have available to us,using our creativity to pair it with both exotic and simple cuisines. We can only hope that the next time
Catavino.net Newsletter
Vol. 1 Issue #2 January 2008
Cava for your Champagne Flute 
- 2 -All Content © Catavino.net Newsletter 2008 – Vol 1 Edition 2For more infowww.Catavino.netEmail questions/comments to comments@catavino.net
you decide to sit down with a glass of wine, you’ll not only choose a cava, but you’ll pair it witheverything from a turkey sandwich to winter squash stuffed ravioli with toasted almonds.Finally, we took a big spoonful of our medicine when wewrote off a style of cava called, brut nature. How manytimes have we beseeched you to push past yourpreconceived notions and experiment? We’ve asked youto try unconventional Portuguese wines, lesser knownPorts, and Sherry of any make or model. Yet, we fell intothe same trap, describing brut nature as uninteresting andunworthy of your time. We were wrong. There are brutnatures that are incredibly interesting and absolutelydeserving of your time. It boils down to your willingness toremain open, accepting that you cannot dislike an entirestyle of wine. Because inevitably, there is one that willmake your eyebrows raise, your lips form a half moon andyou voice utter a, “hey, now that’s pretty good”.In summary, with the limited time and resources we had during the month of December, we’re verypleased with the amount we’ve learned and remain confident that come next year, you’ll find uspreparing in October.
Cava Terms
An assortment of terms that you may run into as you explore Cava wines. Some will be found onbottles others will help define terms that we use in our writing about Cava.
- The breakdown of yeast cells inside the sparkling wine bottle after the secondfermentation is completed.
Blanc de Blancs
- Wines made primarily from chardonnay.
– The aging process which allows sparkling wines to acquire a greater complexity,depth and texture in bottle.
Degollamiento o Deguelle
- Process by which sediment collected in the neck of the cavabottle is frozen and removed prior to the final corking.
– The process of sealing the final bottle with a cork.
Licor de Expedición
- The determined amount of sugar to qualify the cava is dissolved inbrandy and added to the wine right before final corking.
- Refers to a non-vintage sparkling wine with blends containing wine from previousvintages.
- Term often used to designate an older, or exceptional, wine.Tapón de corcho – Mushroom cork used to seal cava wine
Vino Reserva
– Wines reserved from previous vintages which are added to the blend forconsistent quality and style.
– Known as riddling, it is the art of turning and tilting bottles of cava to easesediment into the bottle necks. See deguelle.
- Cava with a pink hue resulting from the addition of red wine or red grapes.
Vino Base
- Wine without carbonation.
- Process of bottling cava with the addition of active yeast and sugar to provokesecond fermentation. The carbonation produced by second fermentation is trapped in bottle,whereby the effervescence or bubbles.
 – The year the grapes are harvested.
- 3 -All Content © Catavino.net Newsletter 2008 – Vol 1 Edition 2For more infowww.Catavino.netEmail questions/comments to comments@catavino.net
Traditional Cava Making at Heretat Mestres
By Gabriella Opaz
Last week, we provided you an extensive article on our visit to a small cava producer called, HeretatMestres, located in the center of Sant Sadurni. At the end of the article, we promised a more detailedexplanation as how Mestres uses traditional winemaking techniques to elaborate their cavas. Whatwe’ve included here is not only an in depth description of the secondary fermentation process, butalso the difference between mechanical and manual elaboration.During second fermentation using the methode champenoise, a tirage of sugar and yeast are addedto the base. The bottle is sealed and left to age for at least nine months in an unusually thick bottle.Because they must withstand 90 pounds per square inch of pressure from the carbon dioxide, bottlesmust have enough girth to remain in tact. This leadsme to wonder how bad the experimental phase musthave been, and how many bottles exploded toeventually come to a sound equation?This process of adding sugar and yeast, along withaging that takes place during the second fermentationin bottle, is called en tirage. Temperature is key duringsecond fermentation: the cooler the fermentation, thesmaller the bubbles in the finished product. So winesen tirage are often cellared in very cool, humiditycontrolled cellars kept around 15 degrees Celsius.What is a Cava sealed with during secondfermentation? The majority of wineries will attest to using a crown cap during secondary fermentationfor both the simplicity of removal and to keep the wine airtight during its second stage ofdevelopment. Heretat Mestres differs on that approach. Because the wine needs to age for as long as7 years at a time, Mestres wants their cavas to breathe, age and interact with the environment aroundit. It’s considered the natural way and a methodology which has proven extremely effective over their78 years of being in the cava industry.Once a determined time has passed, the sediment must be removed without losing the characteristicsparkle, or carbon dioxide, of a cava. The first step in this process is riddling or remuage. If the leessitting idly on the bottom of the bottle are disturbed, they quickly kick up a cloud. This cloud looksmuch like a dust storm you may see rolling through the flatlands of New Mexico or Texas. To clarifythe cava, wineries will typically use a mechanical upright rack called a, gyro-pallet, which will slowlyturn the bottles and tilt upwards over the course of a week. This allows the unsightly sludge to quicklycollect in the neck of the bottle, which is flash-frozen in a cold brine. The metal cap is thenmechanically removed, allowing the frozen yeast to catapult out of the bottle in a process calleddisgorging. Once the sediment is gone, the bottle will be sealed with the traditional mushroom corkcap.Tradition is equivalent to time, because man cannot work as quickly as a machine, but she can workmore precisely. In the traditional method of riddling cava, a bottle is placed into a free standing rackshaped like a tent and made of cement. Both side of the cement slab tent contain holes where thecava bottles can fit, neck down. A riddler will then turn each bottle an eighth of an inch to the right andslightly up over the course of 28 days. Once the sediment has reached the neck, the sediment is flashfrozen and removed manually by uncorking the bottle, adding additional base wine and re-corking theusing a natural mushroom cork cap.Mestres prides itself on elaborating quality wine using old-school techniques. Maybe our parents hada point when they told us “if you’re going to do something at all, do it right the first time”.

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