The middle of summer is a good time to talk about cava, which, much to my frustration, is often compared unfavourably to Champagne. There are three enormous producers that make 95 percent of all cava produced and, overall, their portfolio is focused primarily on price, particularly as they have been trying to chase Prosecco’s massive growth in popularity over recent years.
Amongst the remaining five percent of producers, there are some excellent cellars. One such example that I finally got around to visiting recently was Castellroig. Located in the Alt Penedès county, specifically in a zone known as Vall del Bitlles, the winery sits just outside Sant Sadurní d’Anoia.
Marcel Sabaté i Coca (a fourth generation member of the wine-making family) took me on a tour of their various properties located close to the winery. There is a strong chalky aspect to most of the soils and, rather unusually for cava, it comes through in the product, showing a sense of place.
Gran Reserva 2010
Lemon pith, cream, light limestone minerality are all found in the aromas. It holds a medium body and medium acidity. Balanced and shorter in finish, it’s easy-going in the mouth and makes for good food pairings. €17
Sabaté i Coca 2008
Coming from a 70-year-old vineyard in the zone of Terroja, this cava is one part aged in oak, the other in stainless steel. Pronounced minerality with a complex aroma that includes layers of white pear, fennel and white blossoms. Medium body and acidity, smooth in the mouth, round and integrated, and smooth in the finish. €30
Miquel Hudin is a sommelier originally from California but now based in Barcelona. He founded the Vinologue series of wine books.