Posted by: tomciocco | March 22, 2011

WHEN “CAVA” IS A RED

I had to put the name Cava in quotes to be perfectly factual, but to call the wine we drank this evening a “would be Cava” would be accurate. Let me tell you what the hell I’m talking about…

North a few dozen clicks and inland from the ancient port city of Tarragona in southern Catalunya is the high altitude (some vineyards found at over 1500 feet above sea level) Conca de Barbera`wine region, which despite having its own designation, is legally able to use or sell its fruit production to make Cava, which the lion’s share of the growers in the region indeed do. Face it, “Conca de Barbera`” doesn’t easily spring from the lips, and I’d wager that when permissable yields, production costs, and market prices are figured in, many growers make proportionally more cash selling fruit to make Cava than maintaining  a celler to make their own Conca de Barbera`.

So maybe you’re still wondering how a “Cava” could be red, or maybe you’re not…Regardless the explanation is thus: in addition to the production of WHITE sparkling wine, the Cava regulations allow for the production of ROSE` sparklers as well from two light RED-skinned grapes only allowed in the production of rose` Cava, one being the esteemed and ubiquitous Pinot Noir, and the other the ULTRA local Trepat (tre-PAHT).

So this would be Cava from Josep Foraster is made from 100% Trepat treated to a short stay (5 months) in small oak barrels. Foraster’s Trepat vineyards are situated at 450m (1476 feet) above sea level, planted almost 50 years ago on clay and sandy soils. The elevation, the maturity of the vines, and nature of the soils (not mention the Trepat itself) makes for a very fragrant, feminine wine.

With this beauty, I served Xato`  – a classic Catalan salad of escarole or frisee with tuna, salt cod, anchovies, and olives dressed with Romesco sauce and a vinaigrette. The main course was a dish called Estofat de Quaresma – “Lenten stew” an all vegetable mix of potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, peas, favas, lots of garlic, etc. with mint and the better part of a stick of butter…with some whole wheat baguette to sop up the sauce.

Josep Foraster Conca de Barbera` Trepat 2009

Transparent rosey/ruby color. Pretty, delicate nose of wild strawberries, toasted almond, sweet spices, dried red flowers, duck sauce, sap, and minerals. The medium-light palate is lively with fresh raspberry and cherry fruit, and a  very elegant, velvety texture. The finish is complex and very persistent, featuring flavors of dried herbs, fine tea, and a touch of citrus peel. A VERY seductive and fascinating wine.

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