When it comes to bubbles many people assume there is only one good option…Champagne.
However, things are moving a great deal in the world of sparkling wines so, if you don't want to be stuck in the past, my advice is to start tasting some of the many other sparkling wines available. Sparkling wines are becoming less expensive and they are being created in many different regions around the world, and it is great to see so many creative and adventurous winemakers developing unique sparkling wines.
Yes, we know Champagne is ‘the genuine article’, but the smaller producers in this French region are also stirring up a little revolution of their own. More and more of these independent producers have ignited their creative spirit and as a result, you can now find some really interesting quirky Champagnes for the same price as a renowned industrially made brand.
Franciacorta wine, from the Province of Brescia (just east of Milan, Italy) is a good example of a top quality sparkling wine from a different region. Many other regions are also introducing Pet-Nat (or Ancestral) wines. Ancestral wines tend to be much more fruity and affordable, bringing a lot of fun to the table.
As we are located in Spain, I want to concentrate on Cava. Despite the bad image that Cava has beyond our borders, there is also a quiet revolution going on. Quality over quantity is gradually taking precedence, creating healthy competition among the producers, improving the reputation of Cava and expanding the production to new horizons.
Cava has a multi-geographic ‘Denominación de Origen’. It is heavily based in Cataluña, but sparkling wines that are made in Utiel-Requena, Rioja and Extremadura can also be called Cava. In Cataluña there are now smaller ‘breakaway’ denominations that want their products to be among the best sparkling wines in the world and they are succeeding. The Clàssic Penedès and Corpinnat associations are the ones to keep an eye on.
When we decided to introduce a Cava to our wine catalogue (and online shop), it did cause a few headaches (though not in the way you might be thinking). We are always on the lookout for producers that maintain high standards but we also prefer to focus on the smaller producer that has affordable prices, whilst still maintaining the quality of their product. We also love a producer with a good story!
After a long search we eventually found what we were looking for…and Mas Xarot is our new gem.
This is a family run winery with a tradition that dates back to the 50s when Victor Centelles started working in one of the local wineries and began to learn about sparkling wine producing methods. In 1982 he established his own project in his home basement, creating a small quantity of Cava with a great personality.
Mas Xarot developed very slowly and in the early years they would only sell their wine to locals or anyone else who happened to pass by. In 2002 they acquired a traditional wine estate known as Monastell. This larger estate allowed the business to grow in quantity and in quality.
Mas Xarot are now very well respected locally, but are perhaps not so renowned further afield, however this could all change soon. Peñin awarded 91 points for their Gran Reserva and 90 points for their Brut whilst Decanter Magazine awarded a bronze medal to their Gran Reserva, their Milesimé Gran Reserva and their Reserva.
Mas Xarot produce amazing Cava with respect for the traditional methods but also with their eye on the future. A recent generational handover has brought about further changes such as organic certification of the vineyards, a new and modern looking wine label and rejuvenated enthusiasm within the family.
As the festive season approaches and we begin to look for wines to drink during Xmas and the New Year, a Mas Xarot Cava would be a fabulous addition to the table. Their Brut is an inviting, easy drinking Cava that is fresh, dry, aromatic and fruity. Their Rose is 100% Pinot Noir, which just happens to be one of our favourite grapes. It has a pale cherry pink colour, a small and constant bubble structure, a refreshing acidity and fruity aromas of red fruits.
Their Gran Reserva was bottled in 2013. All of this time spent in bottle gives it a great deal of complexity, with some added creaminess. It also has a fine and constant bubble that makes it a super elegant Cava to enjoy.
So, if you want to be avant-garde when it comes to the world of sparkling wine, why not ditch your usual bottle of Champagne and try something new for your seasonal festivities.