Budget Wine: NV Vilarnau Cava
Region: Penèdes, Spain
Average Price: $15
Deliciously crisp and refreshing with a lively persistent mousse, this great value Cava from Vilarnau is definitely worth seeking out.
A blend of the three traditional Cava grapes (Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo) and aged for about 18 months on the lees, Villarnau Cava has a very attractive nose - subtle notes of brioche, fresh bread, apples and citrus aromas with notes of spice and a gentle earthy minerality. Creamy mousse, ample vibrant flavors across the palate and a nice minerally finish.
At the Table: While Cava is lovely to sip as an aperitif, it is also a great partner at the table. This Brut style pairs with lots of spring and summer dishes such as a Salade Niçoise, Caesar salad with grilled shrimp, salmon quiche, stuffed sardines and even Pad Thai.
About Cava and Vilarnau Cava is an official designated wine that can only be made in Spain. While the denomination (Cava DO) extends across a number of Spanish regions, the Penèdes is the heartland and accounts for over 95% of all Cava production.
Like Champagne, Cava is made using the traditional method whereby the second fermentation (i.e the creation of the bubbles) happens in the bottle. But what makes Cava unique is the use of indigenous grape varieties often referred to as the 'Holy Trinity' - Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada. Each variety adds its own unique character to Cava. Typically Macabeo (known as Viura in Rioja) contributes freshness, fruitiness and acidity; Xarel-lo brings body, alcohol and depth of flavor, while Parellada adds delicacy, finesse and elegance to the blend
The Cava producer Vilarnau is located in the heart of Cava territory in the town od Sant Sadurni' d'Anoia. It now belongs to the famous sherry bodega, Gonzalez Byass, whi purchased the property in 1982.
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Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant.