Showing posts with label Cava. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cava. Show all posts

Monday, July 26, 2021

Loving the natural balance of these sparkling wines. Cava and Pét-Nat, from where the birds sing. #equilibrinatural

Loving the natural balance of these sparkling wines. Cava and Pét-Nat, from where the birds sing. #equilibrinatural


Entre Vinyes Funàmbul Brut Nature Reserva 2017,  11.5%, 

€23.50 approx. Manning’s, Ballylickey; Mary Pawle

Fresh and dry, this elegant Cava is one for your shortlist; elegant yes, but full of energy and flavour (apricot and apple) and with amazing balance, all with a mineral note lingering on to the end. The mousse is creamy and smooth. New to the Mary Pawle portfolio, this is pleasure to drink and Very Highly Recommended.

Three varieties,  Xarel·lo, Macabeu and Parellada varieties, are in the blend. The wine has been aged for 24 months. It has been produced by Maria Barrena ( she also makes the Pet-Nat below). She is one of the trio at Azul y Garanza in Navarra (whose wines we feature regularly). They each have a personal project as well and Maria found here in Catalunya, the lure of recuperating Pep’s old vineyards drawing her to the Baix Penedès.

With an average age of 60 years, these vineyards are in the natural environment of Foix, surrounded by oak and pine forest, under a dry climate and on a porous soil (which swallows the water) and limestone, very poor and shallow, with hardly any organic matter. The great biodiversity present creates a unique ecosystem that naturally regulates the balance of the vineyard. Here, working in an artisanal way, Maria has produced some terrific wines including this Cava. #equilibrinatural

Cava info (via

If Cava differs from most sparkling wines in something, it is in the production method. The years and technological advances have made it possible to improve processes, but what has remained unchanged is the essence of caring for the vineyard and quality viticulture in addition to the so-called traditional method, which provides Cava with its main characteristics and one of its secrets of his excellence.

Also called champenoise - due to its French origin - the traditional method is distinguished by carrying out the second fermentation in the bottle, unlike most sparkling wines in the world that use other methods


Entre Vinyes Oníric Pét-Nat 2020, 11.5%, 

RRP €16.60. Regular stockists include Ardkeen Foodstore, Waterford/ Little Green Grocer, Kilkenny/ The Vintry, Dublin/ Toon’s Bridge, Dublin & Cork/ The Connemara Hamper, Clifden/ Mortons of Galway/ URRU, Bandon/  Lettercollum Kitchen, Clonakilty/ Organico, Bantry/ Mannings, Ballylickey/ Bridge St, Kenmare/ Taste, Castletownbere; Cheese Press Ennistymon / Mary Pawle.

The Parc Natural Del Foix, mentioned in the Cava story above, is also the source of this pétillant and is also made by Maria Barrena. Not everyone is familiar with the term Pét-Nat. So what is this Pét-Nat wine they are all talking about? It is an abbreviation for pétillant naturel, the French term that roughly means naturally sparkling.

Is it then a copy of champagne? Not so. It is the other way around if anything, as Pét-Nat has been around longer. Pét-Nat is bottled while still undergoing its first round of fermentation. The French call this process “methode ancestral” and you may see that on some labels.

You may see “bottle fermented,” or the Italian “col fondo,” (more or less a  pét-nat Prosecco). The crown cap and a little bit of sediment are other clues!

The method is pretty widespread across the wine world. Most are fun and good with food, especially lighter dishes. Uncomplicated, authentic and quite diverse, Pét-Nat puts the sparkle on your dinner table or even picnic spread. It is bubbles without the hefty price tag.

Oníric in Catalan translates as dreamer and Entre Vinyes is a personal project of Maria Barrena (Azul y Garanza in Navarra), the aim being to rescue old forgotten vineyards and restore a balanced ecosystem. This 60-year vineyard, surrounded by a rich biodiversity, is in the Baix Penedes region (in Catalonia) close to the Med. The grapes for the pét-nat are Xarel-lo (mostly) and Muscat.

Colour is a cloudy yellow/lemon. On pouring, you create a large white “head” but it won’t hang about. This is easy drinking, approachable and refreshing, with good depth and length. And of course, it has that pleasant sparkly tingle. White fruit flavours and just enough acidity to balance, make it harmonious all the way to the lip-smacking finish. A wine for sun and fun. Highly Recommended.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Supervalu Highlight Increase in Sales of Cava during 2020 Spanish Wine Launch

Supervalu Highlight Increase in Sales of Cava
 during 2020 Spanish Wine Launch

Supervalu have had a long association with Spanish wines and recently launched their 2020 selection. It includes the two Cava below. 

Head wine buyer Kevin O’Callaghan: “Ten years ago, Spanish wines sales were dominated by red wines, but today Spanish white wines have enjoyed a 9% growth and now account for 22% of total Spanish wine sales, a sizeable increase considering ten years ago SuperValu’s Spanish white wine sales amounted to less than 6%...while Spanish Cava has also seen growth of 18%…”

Cava is a different distinctive under-rated sparkling wine, made in Spain using the same method as Champagne. There’s a great choice with the Spanish, mainly Catalan, wine whereas many of the big Champagne houses are nowadays owned by the LVMH Group and many smaller producers are now selling their grapes to the big names rather than sticking to the increasingly more difficult independent route. Prosecco is extremely popular in Ireland of course and sometimes I wonder why. Having said that, there are some really good examples of the main Italian sparkler.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad 12%, €30.00*.

Light gold is the colour of this elegant Cava, so elegantly presented, constant little fountains send micro-bubbles to the top while slightly bigger ones cling to the sides. Fruit (apple), and a touch of honey in the intense aromas. Mouthfeel is excellent (it has spent some time on the lees), and the high standard, fruity and full of flavour, plus that biscuity touch, is maintained all through to a long impressive finish. 

This premium Cava comes in a decorated bottle. Patiently resting in its precious bottle, it is allowed to quietly mature for the most time in the calm darkness of the Segura Viudas cellars before a last poignettage, from Head Winemaker Gabriel Suberviola, intensifies the contact of the lees for a more complex and finished bouquet. Poignettage occurs when the bottle is shaken vigorously so that the dosage liqueur marries perfectly with the wine. Some of you may be familiar with dosage; it not, check here

Notes indicate that it pairs well with meat dishes, such as pork and chicken. It is produced in the Penedès area (near Barcelona) and the blend is of just two grapes: Macabeo (67%) and Parellada.

Gran Troya Cava Brut NV 11.5%, €26.00*  

It may be a little less intense in all aspects than the Segura Viudas and it’s very approachable. If you haven’t tried Cava before, this is a terrific introduction. Indeed, if you are not familiar with Cava,  start with the Troya and then make Segura Viudas your next drop.

The Troya colour is a pale gold and there is no shortage of tiny bubbles rising to the top and forming a ring around the perimeter of the glass. It is reasonably intense, mellow aromas, and fruity in the mouth with a long dry finish. A fairly typical Cava. The grapes used are the traditional Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada “from our own vineyards”. Try with olives, grilled almonds. Serve at 6-8 degrees.

* Watch out for the regular Supervalu offers. For instance, during the second half of February, the Segura Viudas is on offer at €20, and I have seen the Gran Troya as low as €12.00.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Bubbles for your Valentine! SuperValu cut the price of courting.

Bubbles for your Valentine
With the saving on this Pierre Darcys champagne, you'll be able to buy the flowers as well. Double those brownie points!

If music be the food of love, play on, a famous bard wrote. Add a few bubbles though….

And it’s easy to do it these days as SuperValu cut the price of courting with a  selection of sparkling wines all reduced (you’ll have a few bob left over for the flowers) for the day of love. So go pick your Cava, your Champagne, your Prosecco. There’s even an alcohol free one.

Barciño Cava Brut NV, 11.5%, €13.99 (was 25.99) until February 13th.

This vibrant wine is named after Barcelona “the city we love”, say the producers. It is bottle fermented, using the Methode Traditionnelle, same as is used for Champagne.

It is a very light gold colour - see those non-stop fountains of bubbles rise. Modest aromas are light and fresh. The palate, with those fine bubbles, is bright and zesty and then that classic fresh bread finish. This lovely Cava will help start the celebrations as an aperitif. Why not try a few tapas with this well crafted wine?

Graham Norton Prosecco Frizzante 11%, €10.00 (was 12.00) until February 13th.
Light gold is also the colour here and again there are lots of bubbles but this time they don’t hang around. This is a Frizzante (gently sparkling) not a Spumante (fully sparkling). You’ll also note a different closure on it - use your normal corkscrew to get started.

While it is nowhere near as bubbly as the Cava, this calmer bottle is very very pleasant indeed. Graham’s light and fresh Frizzante could well turn a midweek party up a notch or two. Anyone for pizza and prosecco?

Two wandering Kiwis and the Irish comic are behind the GN wines, "honest....without the BS" they say. All of the previous GN wines are from down under and this Prosecco's an exception, made with 100% Glera grapes from the home of Prosecco in NE Italy.

The McGuigan Frizzante is also on offer, down to €10.00 from 14.99, again until the 13th. I remember Neil McGuigan introducing it at a dinner in the Trident not too long ago - he just loved getting the most out of the pronunciation!  

“It comes in a resealable bottle,” he said. “It is produced from Semillon grapes, it is easy drinking, for everyday”. Nothing wrong with easy drinking on Valentine’s either! It is fresh, soft, scented and grapey, with delicious lightness and good length. Best served chilled.

Pierre Darcys Champagne Brut NV 20 euro (was 49.99) until Feb 13th

IWSC Silver Medal 2015 (pictured top);  Judges' verdict: “Pale lemon-yellow, steady streams of small bubbles ; fresh, delicate aromas showing green apple and hints of red fruit behind, fresh bread; well-balanced with bracing acidity, richness across the mid-palate and lingering crisp finish. Harmonious wine.

Also on offer are the AG Blanc de Blancs and the AG Brut Rosé (each at €10.00, down from €17.99) and the non-alcoholic Freixenet Legero Sparkling at €7.00.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Franciacorta, An Italian Gem. Best of Bubbles.

Franciacorta, An Italian Gem
Best of Bubbles. 

Alma Gran Cuvée Bellavista Brut Franciacorta (DOCG), 12.5%, €52.99, Wine Online.

From Franciacorta in Lombardy, to the south of Lake Iseo and to the west of the better-known Lake Garda, comes some of Italy’s finest sparkling wine and it’s not Prosecco. Franciacorta is made in the same way as champagne, with the second fermentation in the bottle, all the better for the character of the wine. 

For the past forty years, Vittorio and Francesca Moretti have been producing excellent Franciacorta at their Bellavista estate. Our bottle has a blend of 80% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir and 1% Pinot Blanc.

It has a light straw colour with green tints. There are intense fountains of long-lasting small bubbles, pin-point and tiny. You may well note in the aromas the biscuit characters that turn up in good champagne, white fruit notes too including peach and citrus, plus floral and vanilla hints. It is intense also on the palate, fine, silky, beautifully balanced and then a lip-smackingly dry finish. Definitely makes a very good impression from first acquaintance and Very Highly Recommended.

Better than most Prosecco and as good as many Champagnes, this lovely wine is a welcome aperitif. Remember though that those bubbles go to the head faster than normal wines, so do provide a few nibbles, eg toasted almonds or cheese bits.

Interestingly, the area was once well-known for metallurgy and firearms (including the Beretta handgun, made outside of Brescia). Now, besides sparkling wine, it has some great cheeses such as Taleggio, Gran Padano and Gorgonzola. Franciacorta is a relatively recent phenomenon. "In 1968, there was nothing here," Maurizio Zanella, the unofficial ambassador of the wine, is quoted as saying.

Bargain Bubbles
Gran Troya Cava Brut NV 11.5%, €12.00 SuperValu

At a recent wine dinner in Cork, Irish Times writer John Wilson declared that Cava is getting better and better, “different, distinctive”. Yet many of us have yet to discover the Spanish sparkler, made in the same way as Champagne. This bottle, bought at twelve euro just before Christmas, is quite a good introduction. Recommended!

Colour is a pale yellow and there is no shortage of tiny bubbles rising to the top and forming a ring around the perimeter of the glass. It is intense and fruity with a long dry finish. A classic Cava. The grapes used are the traditional Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada “from our own vineyards”. Chardonnay is allowed but not used in this case. Try with olives, grilled almonds.

Covides Viñedos y Bodegas are the leading wine co-op in Catalonia in terms of volume and make their Cava using the método tradicional (same as Champagne). That means a thorough selection to get the best fruit, a careful blending process, secondary fermentation and subsequent ageing in the cellars at Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, a small town not too far from Barcelona. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Taste of the Week. Pares Balta Cava

Taste of the Week
Pares Balta Cava

I was introduced to this Cava, the sparkling wine of Spain, during a fish dinner in Ballycotton recently. ENO wines are the importers of our Taste of the Week. Very Highly Recommended.

Donie O’Brien is the Commercial Director of ENO and he told me that Maria Elena Jimenez and Marta Casas, the wives of the joint owners, are the winemakers and oenologists and they all take the organic approach seriously, even to the extent of keeping their own beehives to help with pollination and keeping their own flock of sheep to fertilise the vineyards in Autumn.

The traditional Cava grapes - Parellada, Macabeo, Xarel·lo- are used here and the wine is made by the traditional method, the same method they use in Champagne. It has a pale yellow colour. Medium intensity on the nose with toasty notes combined with aroma of pear and apple. Fresh and alive in the mouth with dominating notes of fruit. Light and soft with a pleasant finish.

ENO is a family owned company and they specialise in the authentic produce of small, family-owned, quality-driven wineries. The bad news is that our Taste of the Week is not available in retail outlets, only in selected hotels and restaurants. But do keep an eye out for it! Very impressive.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Fish Out In Force at the Bayview. Not the usual suspects!

Fish Out In Force at the Bayview.

Not the usual suspects!

For me, the humble mackerel was probably the highlight of Chef Ciaran Scully’s Seafood Evening at the spectacularly situated Bayview Hotel last Friday. But there were starring roles too in Ballycotton for less familiar fish, such as Megrim and Witch.

Witch? This is a flounder, known in the UK as Torbay sole. It is caught in abundance around our coasts and about 95% is exported! Megrim, also common, has the sole flavour and a slightly softer texture. The other fish that featured in the six course menu (including a fishless dessert) were Dublin Bay Prawns and Octopus.

The prawns were first up. They were grilled, scented with Rosemary from the garden, shell oil and Atlantic sea-salt, and served with carrot, cappuccino of Bisque, and Leamlara Celery cress.

Then came the Seared filet of Mackerel with cucumber, pickled Mushroom, Wasabi cream, dried sea grass, Purslane and sea spinach. Chef Scully says the mackerel haven't arrived in force yet this season but he had some good plump ones here and created a terrific dish.

Time now for the Megrim soup. First came the garnish (Coolea cheese croute, saffron rouille, fennel and tomato) and then the soup was poured, a perfect match. Second time in a week that the soup came midway through a meal. No problem on either occasion!

And it was also the second time in a week that I had octopus. This was landed in Duncannon (Wexford) but, like all the other fish, was caught by a Ballycotton boat. The Char-grilled Octopus was glazed with apple syrup and served with sweetcorn purée, chorizo lime and oil, a delightful combination of flavours and textures.

Now it was the turn of the Witch fillet, with lemon and potato purée, brown shrimp, parsley, capers, nut brown butter, samphire. Quite a finalé to the fish dishes.

Dessert was Caramelised pineapple, coconut parfait and Mount Gay rum with mango jelly, pineapple sorbet, fizzy citrus syrup, Speculoos biscuit, pina colada foam. Delicious with plenty of fruit flavours to match with the Brumes de la Tour Blanche Sauternes, an intense wine with concentrated fruit, yet with a refreshing acidity.

The wines for the evening came from Eno Wine and their Commercial Director Donie O’Brien was on hand to give a brief rundown on each wine, starting with the amazing Pares Balta organic Cava.The family keep bee hives (to assist in pollination) and sheep flocks (to fertilise the vineyards in autumn). When presented with a Cava like this, it is hard to believe that it is still one of the lesser known sparkling wines in Ireland.

That is not the case though with Albarino, which has been gaining in popularity for “past 25 years” according to Donie. And he had a delicious example, the Etra Albarino, aromatic, full of fruit and again that acidity that means its goes well with food, especially food from the sea!

It is often compared to Sauvignon blanc and we soon had the chance to compare as the next wine was Domaine L’Aumonier, an organic wine from the Loire produced by Sophie and Thierry Chardon. A fruity and pleasant wine to taste on all occasions. It is aromatic, well balanced between freshness and intensity and the perfect match for the Octopus and its sauce.

Donie reckons that the Godello grape is becoming ever more popular in Ireland and may well follow Albarino on the way to even greater acceptance here. Certainly the one he had is a gem, a great match with the Witch dish. This was the Celdina from Galicia. Donie says it has the richness and weight of Chardonnay but with a bit more crispness. Beautiful aromas too and, while good with fish, has the wherewithal to “accompany chicken, turkey and pork dishes even when served with a sauce”.

After that it was the turn of the dessert and the Sauternes to bring the very pleasant event to a close.

The fish was finished for the night but I started the next day with more fish. I was staying in the lovely Garryvoe Hotel, a sister of the Bayview across the bay, and was delighted to see plaice on the breakfast menu. Ballycotton Bay is noted for its plaice and this reinforced that opinion. No wine though!

The next special food evening in the Bayview’s Capricho restaurant, “Ingenuity and the Bounty”, again seafood themed, is scheduled for Monday September 4th and is also part of FEAST. More info here.  
Bookings: 021 4646 746.

Maria Coleman and Chef Ciaran Scully have been filling me in on future themed evenings. Our Portuguese Night – Isaac's Soiree (this date has moved from the 15th of September to the 6th of October) - will consist of a Portuguese tasting menu to include paired Portuguese wines. Keeping it simple there will be no choice! We will also have music on the night."

"Following that on the 20th October we will be having the Bayview Swing- this will be held on the 20th of October 2017. It will be a themed 1920’s event to ease into the Jazz weekend in Cork. A Black tie event/1920’s theme, Full four course dinner, Prosecco and oysters arrival reception, Live music."

"All event are €65 per person and we are doing a special over night to include the above at €110 per person sharing."

Monday, December 29, 2014

No Shortage of Sparkle at Year’s End

No Shortage of Sparkle at Year’s End
There is no shortage of sparkling wine to see out the old year and to welcome the new, anything from an expensive champagne such as Krug to the inexpensive Prosecco below. The big selection gives you a good chance to get one to suit both your palate and budget.

Champagne Pierre Darcys Brut, €20.00 at SuperValu
Cava Brut Barcino, €12.00 at Supervalu
Griffon Prosecco Frizzante, €9.00 at SuperValu

These are just three from the SuperValu range. The champagne itself was put to the test here on Christmas Day and went down very well indeed. It certainly has got the usual characteristics, is crisp and well balanced and runs out quickly!

The Cava stood into the breach then and you'd hardly notice. No shortage of small bubbles here, the typical breaded nose and again fresh and zesty. Just the job at about half the price.

Prosecco has made a huge impact, not always good, on the sparkling wine scene and this friendly Frizzante is but one of many on the market. It is made in a different way with the secondary fermentation taking place in a bulk tank rather than in the individual bottle, hence the twine on the cork, rather than the more usual more robust arrangement! It is less expensive to produce than Spumante which undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle. Don't delay too long with your glass of Frizzante as the bubbles don't hang around.

Carl Jung Sparkling White (de-alcoholised), €5.99 widely available
Superquinn; Dunnes Stores; Joyce's of Galway; Molloy's Off-Licences, Dublin; O'Brien's; Next Door Off-Licences; Supervalu nationwide; and good independent off-licences nationwide

With a few drivers among those calling to the house at Christmas, I thought this Carl Jung might come in handy. It sure did and drew a few compliments as well, showing that sparkling celebrations may be enjoyed without the alcohol. Actually, there is quite an intense rush of bubbles and no shortage of fruit in the palate. 

Oh, by the way, if someone says he’d prefer to drink tea, you can keep the sparkle going by offering him a glass of Mariko. Cheers!

Bouvet Saphir Saumur Brut 2011

No doubt that Champagne, Cava and Prosecco are the big three in sparkling wine. But there are many more from all over the world. We enjoyed a white and a rosé from Cono Sur during the recent blogging competition final in Paris and, speaking of France, the country produces well over twenty such wines aside from the well known champagne.  This is one of them, from the Loire and made in the same way as Champagne (méthode traditionnelle). It survived the Christmas and I'm looking forward to opening it on New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year to you all.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Campo Viejo. Still and Sparkling

Campo Viejo. Still and Sparkling

Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2008, 13.5%, €14.31 Widely available.

Campo Viejo is the "dependable" Rioja. Even in Spain, according to our guide on a recent Tapas Trail. And not just in Spain. It is in the No. 1 Rioja position worldwide. And one can see why, or at least taste why, in this bottle. The wine has been aged for 18 months in French and American oak and a further 18 months aging in the bottle.

Colour is a clean and bright ruby and it has inviting red fruit aromas. You’ll find rounded fruit flavours and spice notes on the palate. Really well balanced with little or no sign of tannins and it has a lovely long finish. Made mainly from Tempranillo (85%), it is added to our Very Highly Recommended list.

Campo Viejo Cava Brut Reserva, 11.5%, €15.38, O’Brien’s nationwide .

Cava is usually associated with the Catalunya region of Spain and indeed the vast majority of this traditionally made sparkling wine is made there. But it is also produced in quite a few other regions such as Aragon, Navarra, and La Rioja. The usual grapes in the blend, and in this wine, are Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo.

Take a look at this in the glass and you see a clean greenish yellow colour, bright and with no shortage of rising bubbles. There are white fruit aromas which I've seen described as complex but I didn't find anything very intense. White fruits too on the palate and a terrific balancing acidity. Fresh for sure and with an excellent dry finish. A good value Cava, made by the Metodo Tradicional, and Highly Recommended.

They also produce a Rosé Brut, made with 100% Trepat.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Glad to say most of the wines flagged in a last month’s A Festive Wine Mix came up trumps over the holiday period. The Hamilton Ewell Fortified Red Wine, available from Bubble Brothers for about €18.00, was an after dinner highlight and this port taste-alike went down well with the Green Saffron Christmas Pudding.

Not all alcohol

Much before all that, the Innocent Bystander, Victoria, 2010 Moscato, 5.5% (Bradley’s Off Licence), drew quite a lot of favourable comment as did the Mont Marcal Extremarium Cava from Curious Wines.

There was a split decision when the Jip Jip Rocks Sparkling Shiraz from Karwig Wines was introduced and I must admit I didn’t get too many converts. But another red from the Carrigaline outlet went down a treat and that was the Monte Veho 2010 Vinho Regional Alentejano (€13.85). Made from a selection of regional grapes, this was well balanced, nicely rounded, soft and easy drinking.

And another Portuguese red, the Fontanario de Pegoes Palmela DO Reserva 2007 (Portugal), 14%, (€16.99), also got a big welcome. This is imported by Wine Alliance and widely available as is one of their brilliant whites: Little Beauty Sauvignon Blanc Limited Edition 2009, New Zealand, 13.5%, €15.99, another Christmas star.

Back to Karwig’s for another white that found wide acceptance: Rebenfeld Gruner Veltliner 2006 from South Austria (€11.00). This crisp fruity dry wine, from Austria’s flagship white grape, has good balance and a good finish and is very good value indeed. Perhaps the top Karwig white that found its way onto the holiday table was the Martin Codax Albarino 2010 (€13.85). A lovely wine: aromatic, crisp and dry.

I also had the pleasure of a couple of doubles from the Southern Rhone, a pair of Chateauneuf du Pape, and also a pair of good ones from La Citadelle, one of the top producers in the Luberon. I’ll fill you in on these later.

It wasn’t all alcohol of course. The Innocent Bystander drew favourable comment partly because of its low alcohol and I also had my favourite non alcoholic beverage available, the Tipperary Sparkling Apple Juice by Con Traas.

Con also does a gorgeous still apple juice from his Carmine apples and, at Midleton Farmers Market on Christmas Eve morning, I found a worthy rival in the still juice by the Little Irish Apple Company from Kilkenny. It is made from Bramley and Seasonal Dessert varieties and is refreshing and natural and lovely when chilled, a different taste that also found favour around here this holiday.