Two Wine Tips for the Fall

Its cold and rainy in Sweden, nothing like it was a week or so back in Barcelona – the brutal reality is that it will not get better before May 2018. So I will do what any sensible person would do: stay home and drink wine. Yesterday M came home with a smile on his face, he had been to the monopoly and stocked up for the fall. And now that we have made sure we have bought our share, I can share some awesome wine tips with you for bottles to go and haul home for the dark time to come.  Continue reading “Two Wine Tips for the Fall”

A Trip Back to 1982

I very recently opened one of the oldest bottles of wine that I have ever owned. It is quite funny, the bottle was old, but I had owned it for less than two weeks before popping the cork. This was not my sideways-moment, but a result of some practical thinking. The Bollinger Grande Anné 1982 was ready to drink now, and we wanted to take advantage of the little flu-free time we had left. Later on I realized, that I had no idea on what kind of a year -82 was. It was the year Michael Jackson released his Thriller album (one of the favorite albums of my childhood), Grace Kelley died and all 9 planets aligned on the same side of the Sun. But how was the year in Champagne?  Continue reading “A Trip Back to 1982”

Nebbiolo Night

This week, we had our first tasting for our new producer to-be, Mamete Prevostini. They are a small family producer from northern Italy, making 100% Nebbiolo wines. We have already decided to add them to our selection, but we held an extra tasting to get some confirmation for our thoughts regarding the mix. We were not disappointed as our brave tasters gave us great feedback for making our decision. The wines will now be ordered (as soon as our new warehouse deal is signed), and they will be available (hopefully) for purchase in the end of April.  Continue reading “Nebbiolo Night”

Guide to the best cava – Part 3: Prestige cavas

A while ago I started the series on the best cavas in different price ranges. The intention was to publish all parts faster but a little trip to Shanghai managed to sneek up on me. Here is however the third part. The first part on entry level cavas can be found here and the second part on the mid-range cavas here. This price range is from 200 SEK per bottle (approximately €22 and up) and more. Just a reminder that this will not cover cava sold anywhere but rather cava available to consumers in Sweden and Finland.

When creeping up over 200 SEK per bottle it is nearing the range of the price of some champagne, so the quality level here also has to take a step up. There are in my view many good cavas in this range but the selection in the Nordics is not too wide. We have, however been able to find some good options.

The Rrimarts Family of wines
The Rrimarts Family of wines

Gramona III Lustros Gran Reserva 2006 from Gramona: 281 SEK at Systembolaget. Gramona is one of the bigger mid-sized producers with around 150ha of vineyards. This 2006 vintage is a blend of 75% xarel.lo och 25% Macabeo. It has a really nice nose with nougat, brioche, minerals and pear. On the palate it is a pleasant mix of yellow plums, citrus with a hint of mineral and lovely brioche. Not cheap but competes nicely with the best champagnes in the same price range.

Gramona Reserva Brut Rosado from Gramona: 335 SEK at Winefinder. Another cava from Gramona but this time a rosé. This is a 100% Pinot Noir so not the traditional grapes from the region but still good. There are not that many good rosé cavas available so I have included this one in my list. It is over-priced but still good. To be decent value for money it should perhaps be priced around 200 SEK, but since it is so rare with good rosé bubbly in the Nordics I still included it on my list. It has lovely scent of red berries and blueberries as well as hints of anis and citrus. The taste has nice red berries with a pleasant dry finish.

Relats de Recaredo Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2010 from Recaredo: €25.90 at Alko. Recaredo is delivering one of the really good cava options available in Finland. I do not have any detailed tasting notes from this one but recall tasting it a while back and really enjoying it. Blend of Xarel.lo and Parellada, aged for at least 32 months.

Guillem Carol Gran Reserva Barrica Brut Nature from Cellers Carol Valles: 250 SEK at thewinecurious. This is a an interesting cava from a small family producer Cellers Carol Valles. It has spent time on oak (which the Barrica in the name indicates). It is made from Xarel.lo (50%) and Chardonnay (50%). The 4 months on oak gives the cava a bit more rustic flavor and I am myself very fond of this but it is not everyone’s cup of tea. This is a cava that has fine and elegant bubbles. It shows clear signs of aging and the nose has brioche-like and buttery notes from the Chardonnay. There is also pleasant aromas of ripe candied fruit mixing with the floral notes from the Xarel.lo. In the mouth it is full with a long taste. The brioche and candied fruit once again comes through in the taste.

Rimarts Brut Nature Gran Reserva Especial Chardonnay from Rimarts: 242 SEK from thewinecurios. This is from one of our favorite producers, Rimarts, a 100% chardonnay cava. The cava has been aged from 38 to 44 months and the aging really pays off. It is intense and bright gold in color. The bubbles are very fine and persistent . Sharp and intense nose with a variety of aromas where there is a clear freshness of citrus and green apples but also the brioche like aromas. Very balanced, with a fruity finishing flavor.

Tasting at the house of Rimarts
Tasting at the house of Rimarts

There are not as many recommendations in this third part but it does reflect the fact that there is not as much offered in this higher price range. There are also some of the cavas offered in this higher price range that are just not that good value for money so this round up has tried to find the gems in the category.If I need to pick my favorite it would probably be the Barrica from Guillem Carol. The time spent on oak really gives the cava some extra character.

This concludes the round-up of the best cavas. If you have your own suggestions please do not hesitate to suggest those and if I agree I will add them to the relevant post.

Guide to the best cava – Part 2: Mid-range

Earlier this week I started a series of posts that are on the best cavas available in different price ranges. The first part of that series, the entry level, up to 130 SEK (approx.. €14) can be found here. The next level is from 131 SEK to 200 SEK (€14 to €22) and it is sort of a mid-range. To recap for those who did not read the first part this will not cover cava sold anywhere but rather available to consumers in Sweden and Finland.

In this area I will be recommending a lot of cavas that we are ourselves selling but there is a pretty good explanation for it as well. One of the main reasons we even started selling cava was the lack of high quality options in general but in this price range specifically. While it is slightly better today, especially in Sweden, it is still pretty limited offering for the person who wants to buy from Systembolaget or Alko and especially if you do not want to order it in advance.

In our round-up in the mid-range we are actually not really recommending anything from Alko but for those who are interested both Llagrima D’or and Peret Fuster Rosé cava can be bought in Finland. It is a bit disappointing to see that Alko are not including some more high quality options in the mid range. I would for example like to see the cavas from Vilarnau being made available there (as they offer the basic Vilarnau it should not be that difficult to also have some of their other cavas). There are also a few good cavas (for example some from Castell d’Age) missing from the list below as these have been out of stock for such a long time that they cannot really be seen as available.

In general this price range provides a lot of value for money. To me all of the cavas listed here are usually much better options than going for a ‘cheap’ champagne. All of these cavas are excellent quality and while some of these are a bit over-priced in the Nordic countries I would still be inclined to say that these are some of the best value for money one can find in sparkling wine in Sweden (and Finland). All of these are also at least Reserva cavas (so aged at least 15 months) and a few also Gran Reservas (aged for at least 30 months). For clarity I wish to mention that I in this post, as well as the previous one in the series, list the cavas in alphabetical order.

Augusti Torelló Mata Reserva Brut from Augusti Torelló Mata: 154 SEK at Systembolaget. This may be one of the basic cuvées from Agusti Torelló Mata but they are a solid house and this cuvee shows that they know their stuff. The cava is light straw color with small persistent bubbles. The aromas are a mix of apple, toastiness with hints of mineral and herbs. The taste is fruity ripe apples with nice acidity.

Gramona Imperal Gran Reserva from Gramona: 199 SEK from Systembolaget. Gramona has grown to be one of the fairly big producers of Cava and while not the size of some of the bohemoths it is still readily available in many places. It is in general not my number one producer but they do make very solid cavas and I am happy that it is often available in restaurants. This is their Gran Reserva and it is a nice blend of Xarel·lo (50%), Macabeo (40%), Chardonnay (10%). Aged for three to four years. This has notes of citrus, mineral and apple. Nice nose of toast and apples. Works well with jamón iberico and other dried cured meats. A good cava but a bit overpriced (should more be around 150-175 SEK).

Guillem Carol Gran Reserva Brut Nature from Cellers Carol Valles: 175 SEK at thewinecurious. This is one of the Gran Reservas from small family producer Cellers Carol Valles. It is made from Parellada (40%), Xarel-lo (40%) and Chardonnay (20%). This is without dosage but they also makes one cuvée with the same grapes and a small dosage . For me the zero dosage one is however the best one (for those who want a touch more of sweetness, still very little, the extra brut may be better). This cava is golden straw colored with fine and persistent bubbles. Soft notes of aging and reduction, fine bakery, yeast and notes of citrus and white flowers. Fresh and creamy on the palate, with excellent acidity and long finish.

Llagrima D’or Brut Nature Cava from Llagrima D’or: 175 SEK from thewinecurious. Made from the traditional cava grapes and with no dosage this lovely cava is one of my old favorites. It has pleasant acidity and mineral in the flavor. Some nice toastiness and roundness adds complexity, all in all a lovely cava.

Olivia Brut Nature Reserva from Castell d’Age: 171 SEK at Systembolaget. A lovely 100% Chardonnay cava that has been aged for around 20 months. Very fine and delicate bubbles and the color is bright golden. The chardonnay gives this more of champagne feeling so the nose has a mix of brioche, dried fried and nuts as well as freshness to it. The taste has nice mineral mixed with some yellow fruit.

Peret Fuster Rosé Cava from Peret Fuster: 183 SEK from thewinecurious I am not usually a huge fan of rosé cavas but this 100% Trepat is lovely. It has a very small dosage but is still very dry and has lovely red berry flavor. Perfect as an aperitif.

Recaredo Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2008  from Recaredo : 189 SEK at Systembolaget.. Blend of 46% Xarel·lo, 40% Macabeo and 14% Parellada. Recaredo were among the first  to start with craft production of cava and they are still among the best producers. Aroma of yellow apples, brioche, nougat and hints of orange. The flavor is dry fresh with toastiness, hints of yeast and yellow apples and orange and pleasant acidity. A good cava  from one of the top producers in Spain.

Rimarts Brut Reserva 18 from Rimarts: 167 SEK from thewinecurious. It is made from a blend of Xarel·lo, Macabeo and Parellada this entry level cava has been aged between 18 and 25 months. It has a bright lemon color. Mid-sized bubbles, elegant and lasting. Strong aroma, fresh and flowery. Full in the mouth, creamy, a touch of fresh sweetness with a good balance between sugar and acidity. It is ideal an aperitif but can also be enjoyed with a variety of dishes.

Rimarts Brut Reserva 24 from Rimarts: 175 SEK from thewinecurious. This Brut Nature cava is made from  Xarel·lo, Macabeu and Parellada and has been aged between 25-30 months. It is dry with less than 2g/l of residual sugar. Golden yellow color. Small, persistent bubbles. Complex with a nice intensity. Intense aroma of ageing, ripe fruits, toasted grassy notes. Nice mouth-feel, well-structured with a long, enjoyable finish.

Rimarts Brut Nature Gran Reserva 40 from Rimarts: 200 SEK from thewinecurios. In addition to the traditional grapes Xarel-lo, Macaveo and Parellada this cava also contains Chardonnay. It has been aged between 36 and 42 months and this produces an amazing result. It has bright gold color with very fine, persistent bubbles. Aromas of ripened fruit, notes of ageing, toasted nuts mix with hints of yeast and brioche. Perfectly balanced with a long and pleasant finish. It is one of these cavas that makes you understand why the Catalans enjoy sparkling wine not only on its own but also with bbq, stews and all types of food. 

In this category there are many fine cavas but if I would select my favorite one it is fairly easy. The Rimarts Gran Reserva is one of my all-time favorite cavas and is then my choice. That said all of the cavas presented here are really good so if you find them somewhere there is no need to hesitate just try it.

Stay tuned for the third part in the series coming soon. There we will be presenting some of the more high end cavas available. 

Guide to the best cava – Part 1: Entry-level

As spring is here (at least if you look at the calendar) and summer is nearing many people start drinking more sparkling. While I am not at all opposed to drinking sparkling wine all year round I still thought it is a great time to write a series of recommendations on good cavas in different price ranges (for those of you who are not familiar with cava I can recommend reading this introduction or for more in-depth information the web site of the cava lady, http://annawallner.se/cava-facts/). This post was inspired by the great series of post on the Talk-a-Vino web site on the best Spanish wines in different price ranges (the first post in that series is here: http://talk-a-vino.com/2015/03/24/spanish-wine-recommendations-part-1-wines-under-20/).

There is an enormous range of cava on the market and it is available from many different suppliers and prices vary greatly from market to market so to make it a bit manageable I have set up some ground rules for the selection. As Sweden and Finland are currently our home countries we have only included cavas that can be found here (either at the monopoly or through one of the online wine merchants). We have also excluded cavas that are only available to consumers at restaurants (and frankly looking at what they charge for wine at restaurants in the Nordics it would not really make a difference in the recommendations here).

The recommendations will be split into three parts. The first one (the one you are now reading) is what I like to call entry level cava and that will be cavas prices below 130 SEK (or approximately €14). The second will be cavas priced from 131 SEK and up to 200 SEK (€14-22) and the third one is above that.

Even for entry level cava there is an abundance of wonderful options. In general these will not have the same complexity as some of the more expensive wines but many of these provide excellent value for money and to me there are better options here than for substnatially more expensive Champagne and other sparkling from France and other parts of the world. Even more so I think it is well worth spending a bit more than the absolute minimum that buys you the cheapest cavas (I am thinking the likes of Freixnet and Codorníu) and get something actually drinkable

Anne Marie Reserve Brut Nature Reserva from Castell d’age: 127 SEK at Systembolaget
Castell d’Age is these days run by Olivia Junyent, the third generation of women from the family making cava and other wine. This specific cava is made from 40% Macabeo, 40% Xarel.lo, 20% Parellada. It is a brut nature so dry but it has clear notes of ripe fruit, apple and citrus. Nose has hints of toast, fruit and nuts. Lacks a bit complexity and not as elegant as more high-end cavas but at this price it is a great cava.

Castell de Vilarnau Brut from González Byass: €9.73 at Alko.
Vilarnau is one of the estate I am very fond of. Not only do the make great cavas but they are also incredibly friendly. Unfortunately not yet available to consumers in Sweden (one of the restaurant wholesalers offer this specific cava so it is possible to find it in some restaurants). It is made from 55% Macabeo, 40% Parellada and 5% Xarel-lo. While it is a not a brut nature it still dry. The flavor is fresh with hints of citrus and apple. The nose has notes of white flowers and green apples. Pleasant to drink and good value for money.

Cava Blanc de Noirs 1+1=3 U Mes U Fan Tres from 1+1=3 U Mes U Fan Tres S.L: 99 SEK at Systembolaget.
85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay. This is not a remarkable cava but as it is priced under 100 SEK it deserves a mention here. It is dry with fairly pleasant notes of red apples, orange, nougat and a bit toastiness.

Parellada i Faura Reserva Brut Nature From Cellers Carol Valles: 125 SEK at thewinecurious.com / thewinecurious.tictail.com
This entry level cava is from small family producer Cellers Carol Valles and it really proves that all the cavas from them are really good. The Parellada i Faura Reserva has been aged for between 15-18 months. It has been produced with the traditional grape varieties used for cava production Parellada (60%), Macabeo (30%) and Xarel·lo (10%). It has no added sugar. This is an amazing value for money cava. It competes in quality with sparkling wines that are twice the price or more. It is dry with fine and lively bubbles. Ripe and savory aroma of peach, melon and apple. Flavors are fresh with hints of citrus. Clean and vibrant palate with long finish.

Segura Viudas Lavit Brut Nature 2012 from Segura Viudas: €12.49 at Alko
Macabeo 60% and Parellada 40%. It has nice nose of apple and citrus and on the palate it is dry with hints of buttery notes and dried fruits. A nice entry level cava from one of the bigger of the mid-sized cava producers.

Cellers Carol Valles
Parellada i Faura Brut Nature Cava

These are my top picks in the entry level category. The two last ones are the ones I hold as the best in the category but all of these are good cavas that I would enjoy a glass or two of. What is interesting to note is that out of the ones I have listed only two (the 1+1=3 and the Segura Viudas) are available to buy in the store. All others have to be ordered, and speaking from experience that is also often true of the ones that should be available off the shelf. That is however the way the monopoly can play things and there are not really any options for the consumer when it comes to physical stores. There are however luckily good options online.

This was the first part of the best cavas. Two more to follow but if any of the readers have your own recommendations please do share.