Posted by: tomciocco | February 23, 2014

Q: WHAT’S PINK, SPEAKS CATALAN AND IS FULL OF GAS?

A: Rose` Cava! Wait, what? Yes indeed. Though it represents only a tiny fraction of the oceans of Cava produced mostly in and around the town of Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, Cava can be pink. Most of the white Cava produced, which is always made in the Methode Traditionelle a.k.a. Methode Champenoise, as is all Cava wine, is composed from the standard trinity of  white grapes: Xarel-lo, Parellada and Macabeu , but there are a few exceptions, and tonight’s wine is one of them.

The Champagne method of winemaking is a fairly expensive one. It is characterized primarily by fermentation in individual bottles (rather than in stainless steel tanks or wooden barrels) that entails a fair amount of tedious hand work such as the techniques of  riddling (rotating the bottles stored cork down as they ferment to encourage the formation of a plug of dead yeast) degorgement (draining these bottles into other bottles to eliminate these yeast solids) and dosage (the addition of a small amount of sugar water to induce carbonation) not to mention the thicker bottles, more expensive mushroom corks and the cages that keep them in place. As you might infer, all of these ticky-tack operations are a major source of all of this added expenditure. But, the canny, industrious Catalans have long ago pioneered a bevy of ingenious techniques, some quite simple (like the girasol, a sort of hand-rotated rack to handle the riddling process en masse rather than individually) to greatly reduce the costs that make the production of Champagne so expensive.

So how do some Cavas turn out pink like this one? Well, in some cases, in the same way that rose` Champagnes do – with the use of some amount of Pinot Noir macerated for just a short time to extract just a bit of color. Clearly, the use of a quintessentially Gallic grape like Pinot Noir falls outside of the Catalan tradition, but this rose` (called “rosat” in Catalan) contains no Pinot whatsoever, but rather is made from a fairly obscure native Catalan pale red grape variety called Trepat. And though Trepat-based rose`Cavas  never quite reach the heights that rose` Champagne does, they do offer a completely different and decidedly Catalan flavor profile than their pink bubbly cousins to the north, and without draining nearly as many EUROS from your wallet to get it.

I paired this very charming sparkler with a first course called farcellets de col, which are something of a midway point between a dumpling and a meatball made from ground pork, boiled cabbage, tomato, onion, wine and lots of breadcrumbs, fried first and then baked with a little broth. The main course I dished up is known as a truita de pages (“farmers’ omelet – though the word “truita” means “trout” in Catalan…don’t know)  made with peas, roasted peppers, onion, potatoes, turnips, and ham that I served with a home made garlic/parsley mayonnaise and some crusty bread.

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Josep Foraster Trepat Rosat Cava NV

Blackish/red pink color with a quickly dissipating pale mousse. Aromas of red grapefruit, lingonberries, candied watermelon, pine oil, mocha, sea spray, a hint of dried herbs and frankincense all pervaded by a yeasty chalkiness. In the mouth the wine displays a stalwart bubbliness, firm structure and zippy acidity shooting through a soft and smooth texture with flavors of cherry, strawberry, raspberry jam, merengue, sweet brown spices, chestnut paste, rosewater and bread crust. Finishes with a great bittersweet character.

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