Albet i Noya
Albet i Noya's Cava Brut 21, as recommended by blogger Tara Stevens
In the countdown to Christmas, it’s time to start thinking about stocking those shelves with delicious tipples for the inevitable influx of guests. I’m assuming that most of you, like me, are not in possession of anything so fine as a cellar—though my junk room is increasingly starting to look like one.
This year I’m eschewing three-course dinner parties in favour of easy entertaining. Think a well-stocked cheese board paired with heavy whites like those featured last week, pale cream sherries or aged cavas; a pile of seafood thrown onto a hot plancha with nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil and a crisp, lively white; one pot stews and casseroles washed down with plenty of cheering, fruit-forward red; and long country walks with flasks of soup and homemade bread, a decent view and something robust and mellow to keep the chill out. That my friends, is Christmas. Slaving over a hot stove is not.
First up then is cava, the one thing your fridge can’t live without and come winter your cava purchases will benefit from a bit of an upgrade. In the heat of summer you can get away with cheapo fizz so long as it’s freezing cold, but this time of year those extra euros make all the difference. As a rule of thumb I tend to serve the rosados on their own, and pair white cava—particularly if it is aged—with food.
Albet I Noya Reserva organic cava is very pleasant with a fine fizz for around €8.50. It uses a bit of Chardonnay to pep up the more humble local grapes: Parellada, Xarel.lo and Macabeu and 24 month ageing gives it enough verve about it to work with just about any food, especially creamy cheeses and charcuterie.
Gran Caus Rosado Extra Brut Reserva is a wee bit more pricey averaging at €14 in most stores. However the 100% Pinot Noir gives it a festive light cherry colour, a curiously sweet acidity with a slightly spicy kick, and is a fine example of the lush and creamy “mousse” that champagne makers so aspire to. It’s lovely on its own as an aperitif before moving onto something a little more pedestrian.
Pares Baltà, Blanca Cusinè Brut (€15) is probably the closest you’ll get to champagne since it combines Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and none of the Penedès endemic varieties. While the D.O. are no doubt roiling with rage at the omission, it does make for a top tipple the colour of liquid gold with lovely nutty aromas and a splash of honey to cut through the acidity. I’d put it with the season’s fish and seafood, especially lobster, crab and scallops.