Posted by: tomciocco | September 19, 2011

CUCKOOBANANAS: CAVA AND JAPANESE

Whether I make it explicit or not, I try to maintain an only semi-anal attachment to regional wine and food matching here on the the old blog, but sometimes you can’t or just don’t want to follow the rules (even your own), and boy was tonight one of those nights. I had recently picked up this Cava, and normally would have flown right to Catalunya (culinarily), but with both Jen and I having a yen for a simple (and only really) Japanese dinner I cook which unequivocally calls for the use of an oven, something I almost completely foreswear in the summer, BUT now that the fall has unofficially arrived here in N.J., it was time, and I had a hunch…

So a few words about the Cava. Cava is Catalunya’s, and indeed Spain’s Champagne. Like its infinitely more famous and prestigious, and older (and expensive) French cousin, Cava is made from a blend of grapes (usually the very Catalan trio of Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo (pronounced cha REL o)),  in the Champagne method (double fermented, the second time in bottle), but despite some similarities, the great differences in the character of the grapes, and the two regions’ radically different soils and climates, make Cava quite a different thing from Champagne in the glass.

But Cava and Champagne, and indeed all fairly complex, super-dry, bubbly white wines are in the vanguard regarding VERSATILITY; these wines go exceedingly well with certain things, and poorly with almost nothing. So since a couple of the typical flavor “pick-ups” with Cava are salty foods, and vegetable-rich dishes, my standby Japanese dinner of warm Teriyaki style burdock root and carrot salad, and ginger and garlic baked tofu served over buckwheat soba with a tsuyu broth seemed like the move. After dinner, my hunch to this effect was fully confirmed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bohigas Cava Brut Reserva NV

Slightly greenish very pale gold color. Quickly dissipating medium-fine mousse. Ripe and subtley funky nose of lime, almond, slate, lavender, apple, goat cheese, and grape granita. The palate opens with a medium fine bubble, and an overall fresh and razor-sharp acidity but with a balancing plump and powerful structure, and neat flavors of lemon curd and yellow watermelon in the fine and elegant mid-palate. Finishes long and warm with minerally, tonic water flavors.

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Responses

  1. Since you are the guru of obscure Italian grape varieties, I thought I’d pose this question to you. What, if any, are your thoughts about the Ruchè grape? I am contemplating purchasing the 2010 Montalbera “Laccento” Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato for $24.95. If points matter, it received 98 points from Luca Maroni.

    From what I’ve been able to gather, no one is certain where the grape originated. Its aroma and taste profile have been described as Nebbiolo meets Gamay. According to Wikipedia, the DOC consists of only 40 hectares. The Montalbera Web site – one of the best producer sites I have ever visited, by the way – states that their plantings of Ruchè consist of 35 hectares, suggesting they pretty much own this DOC, somewhat akin to Château Grillet. The DOC rules require that it be at least 90% Ruchè, with the remainder limited to Barbera and Brachetto.

    The technical notes for the 2009 are here: http://www.montalbera.it/eng/pdf/vini_selezioni/RUCHE_LACCENTO.pdf. I don’t read Italian, but I seem to recall that you do.

  2. Love Ruche`! It is indeed a rarity, and the Montalbera is the only one I’ve seen around lately…there was another from a NY Importer called Tri-Vin I brought in at Wine Library, but I can’t recall the name, and their site is screwy…It’s a deep, tannic often high alcohol grape that has a notable aromatic quality, though that could be played up with addition of the brachetto…It’s sort of theoretical blend of Syrah, Tannat, and Lacrima di Morro d’Alba…Was there some specific piece of info you wanted translated from the link?

    TC

    • Thanks, Tom! No, I didn’t want anything translated from the link. I just thought you may want to see the notes.


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