Presumably, almost everyone at least knows, and hopefully has drunk some Cava somewhere along the line. Monetary unit for monetary unit (fill in yours here), it is the best sparkling wine in the world. Cava’s heartland is in the dry and somewhat austere Penedes region, a bit south of Barcelona. The soil is shot through with slate and chalk, and is exceptionally poor. These climatic and soil factors in combination with Cava’s grape palette (Macabeo, Parellada, and one of the best gape names in all winedom, Xarel-lo) and the use of a traditional methode champagnois fermentation make the best Cavas studies in textured, flinty, complex and austere bubblies.
A bit north of Barcelona, and far less well known, at least outside of Catalunya, is the tiny but fairly productive region of Alella. Working primarily with the Pansa Blanca variety (a clone of Xarel-lo), Alella makes softer, spritzy, gulping wines wines from its more temperate and wetter seaside perch.
Jumping back south of the great and fascinating metropolis of Barcelona to the Penedes wine region, we come to this evening’s wine. Like its cousin Alella up the coast, this wine (produced by a fine Cava house, by the way) is not fully sparkling, but rather “petillant” (same spelling and meaning in Catalan and French, different pronuciation) a.k.a. frizzante in Italian, but is made completely from the finest of the scores of Muscat mutations, Muscat Blancs a` Petite Grains rather than any combination of the Cava trinity of grapes. But unlike many Muscat wines, this wine is completely dry, and possesses a far more subdued wash of the typically very intense Muscat flavor/aroma palette, though nonetheless elegant, and with all of the fine, polished mouthfeel that Muscat Blanc a`Petits Grains is famous for.
This went to the table with an appetizer of grated Garrotxa cheese, dried mushrooms, herbs, and a touch of mayonnaise spread onto toasts, and then a main course of sauteed shrimp with a passed and reduced roasted garlic, pimenton, wine, and lemon cream sauce with boiled potatoes to accompany.
Very pale white gold color. Very lively bubbles settle quickly to show off a very pretty and complex nose of pear, green apple, an intense minerality, a hint of flowery perfume, powdered ginger, freshly chopped celery, and clear lemon/lime notes. The bubbles are plentiful but surprisingly fine, and an immediately notable unctuous depth but very still very clean mouthfeel emerges, along with flavors of beeswax, yellow cherry, honeydew melon, boiled peanuts, and Kolsch beer(!). Lovely and long creamy toasted almond and tonic water finish.