You may have wondered why I have been so quiet of late, well, I spent my Summer holiday in Xabia/Javea in the Spanish region of Valencia and for the first time, in many years of going to this part of Spain, Cavas from Valencia filled the Cava shelves in the local shops.
Until this year you had to seek out the local producers as the Catalan giants dominated, so I felt duty bound to check out the new kids on the block. I love sparkling wine and a good Cava can be the perfect drink in Spain during the summer.
Most local Cava houses are small and expensive, so this trend has really resulted in wines from two producers becoming much more widely available and much, much more visible.
The giant of Valencia wine is Vicente Gandia who produce a beautifully packaged Cava:
Hoya de Cadenas Cava is quite serviceable, if somewhat bland – it is made from 100% Macabeo and is very light, clean and fresh, but at €6 it is a bit overpriced.
I have to admit to being disappointed by this wine and being very reluctant to criticise it as Vicente Gandia has done more than any other producer over the decades to put Valencia wines on the map and they continue to produce a wide range of very drinkable, if commercial, wines.
I was unable to find their El Miracle Macabeo-Chardonnay Cava, but will report back as soon as I have tried it.
Try their excellent and very modern, El Miracle Tempranillo-Shiraz from D.O. Valencia or any of their superb and great value Moscatels de Valencia that are available from many UK supermarkets.
More flavoursome Cava is available from Bodegas Torre Oria:
Bodegas Torre Oria Cava Brut is still 100% Macabeo, but manages more complexity and depth whilst only costing €3.65.
This is a very nicely balanced Cava with some biscuity characters, but none of the earthiness that let down Cava of old.
Until recently Torre Oria had rather luridly exotic labels that made their Cavas look cheap, but they have had a complete redesign and now appear elegant and classy.
The winery itself is rather exotic and startling, richly tiled with a Moorish theme, so that they put minarets on the tanks to ensure they blend in!
Bodegas Torre Oria Cava Semi Seco Rosado
Their rosé Cava was rather alarmingly described as semi seco on the label, but the dosage must have been so slight that even my diabetic brother, who is ultra sensitive to sugar, found it hard to discern in any quantity. This Cava is made from 100% Garnacha/Garnaxa and has a stunning colour together with a freshness and balance that surprised and pleased me.
This producer has come on in leaps and bounds recently and all the wines I tried from them were very good, especially the rosé, indeed the best still dry rosé I tried all trip was from them:
This is the second best wine made from Bobal that I have ever tried, with an incredibley rich and lovely colour, a lively nose of herbs and fruit leading to a long finish with rich red fruit and touches of complex savoury notes. An excellent and rewarding rosé that is widely available in the Valencia region for under €3.
Of course there are boutique producers of Cava in Valencia as well and I visited one of the leading estates, Pago de Tharsys in Requena. I will write more about them and their wines soon, but I should mention that their Cavas are very fine and very interesting as well as being funkily packaged – the label is made from pottery and hangs from the neck of the bottle by a ribbon. I will describe their rosé just to whet your appetite:
Pago de Tharsys Rosado Cava Brut 2007
D.O.Cava, estate grown in Requena
100% Garnaxa gives a vibrant colour. 36 months lees ageing results in a complex nose with an attractively vibrant melange of red fruits that follows on to the palate together with creamy flourishes and well balanced acidity. The finish is rich and long with ripe red fruit and a real feeling that you have drunk a wine.
So, the next time that you are in Spain and want to try a Cava that is not from Catalonia or made by the usual suspects then you have plenty to try from Valencia, which is good news as the traditional aperitif of the region is Agua de Valencia – a blend of Cava and orange juice.