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Cava, Spain

Where:  Cava can be made in several regions of Spain; however, the vast majority comes from Penedes--just outside of Barcelona in Catalonia.  The climate and soil throughout Penedes vary considerably.  Compared to Champagne, France, the region is generally warmer and the vineyards tend to see more sunlight.

Grapes:
 The three main grapes used in the production of Cava are indigenous to Spain:  Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarel-Lo.  Other “international” varieties are sometimes included as well--especially Chardonnay.  Red varieties such as Grenache and Pinot Noir are often used in the production of Rose (Rosat) Cavas.

Taste:  Cava tend to be dry, fairly light, and somewhat fruity.  The wines tend to be less acidic and have less body than Champagne.  While every producer’s Cava is unique, it’s not uncommon to taste citrus, apple, pear, and a bit of yeast.

Food Pairing:  Cava is flexible when pairing with food.  It works very well with tart and fresh seafood (e.g. ceviche, oysters) as well as spicy foods (e.g. shrimp fra diavola).  It also pairs well with scrambled eggs (so don’t worry the next time you run out of OJ for mimosas at brunch).

Ageability:  Cava is usually meant for immediate consumption.  Very few Cavas drink well 3-5 years after they’re made available for sale.

Method of Production:  Tradtional (Methode Champenoise).  Just like Champagne.  This method involves making an acidic base wine from immature grapes, bottling the wine, and then adding yeast/sugar to make the wine ferment again (trapping carbon dioxide in the wine).  The bottle is then inverted and rotated slightly over a period of time so the winery can disgorge the dead yeast cells without losing much wine.
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