When a wine professional goes out of her way to get a hold of a couple of bottles of a particular bubbly, you can bet it’s some pretty good stuff. That it was for her wedding means that, despite its affordability, it is a worthy conveyance for all those celebratory once-in-a-lifetime feelings.
The cavas of Agustí Torelló Mata (AgustiTorelloMata.com) have revived my passion for Spanish sparkling wine. Nearly the entire portfolio (and it is extensive) has recently been made available by Las Vegas-based Crush Wines, and it is rolling out on menus and at wine stores all over the city. This alone is cause for celebration, as the cavas run the gamut from relatively inexpensive to très chère, making cava accessible for daily enjoyment as well as for life’s special moments.
“I chose to offer a cava for my wedding reception due to the quality and value factor of cava versus champagne,” says Shalom Stella Davidson of Wirtz Beverage Nevada’s fine-wine division.
The bubbly she chose was the 2008 Brut Reserva, the company’s flagship cava. Just $26 at Valley Cheese and Wine (1770 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, 341-8191), this is an incredible entry point for vintage cava. Made from 39 percent Macabeo, 25 percent Xarel·lo and 36 percent Parellada grapes, this elegant, versatile all-rounder is aged a minimum of two years.
Family-owned and operated, Agustí Torelló Mata is one of Spain’s most respected cava producers, making about 600,000 total bottles per year. This is downright boutique when compared with the more industrial competition’s production, upward of 3 million bottles per year. And theirs are all vintage-dated, estate vinified and bottled from estate-grown indigenous grape varieties hailing from the Penedès region between Barcelona and Tarragona, Spain. The youngest vines are 60 years old, indicating low yields but imparting concentrated flavors and aromas.
Sipping slowly on a bright, warm Washington State wedding afternoon, breathing in the perfume of wildflowers at the crossroad, the nearby Christmas-tree farm, the stones in the river below … perhaps nothing will ever taste so refreshing again.
It’s just by chance that while I was falling for this bubbly, the rest of the line was boarding a shipping container and making its way to the U.S. A fly on the wall at a tasting for the sommeliers at Julian Serrano, I finally got to experience the full portfolio.
Each Agustí Torelló Mata wine has a distinct personality, and some uniquely fun characteristics—perhaps the reason the family calls them “cavas with soul.” The 375-milliliter Bayanus 375, for example, comes in the smallest bottle still able to be used for the Traditional Method, where secondary fermentation (the transition from still wine to sparkling) takes place in the bottle. The smaller size affords greater yeast contact, hence this wine is quick to develop a big bouquet and personality.
My favorite of Agustí Torelló Mata’s luxury cavas, though, is the Kripta Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2006, which also comes in a rare bottle. The unique shape—puntless, and reminiscent of the Roman wine amphora—can withstand greater pressure than a traditional punted bottle.
Across the portfolio, this producer’s cavas all share an appreciable dryness and acidity that yearns for almost any variety delicious cuisine. Kripta ($100 at Valley Cheese and Wine) incorporates a blend of 45 percent Macabeo, 35 percent Parellada and 20 percent fragrant Xarel·lo. The grapes are picked young to achieve the house’s trademark acidity. It’s luscious and complex, with notes of ripe fruit, toast, vanilla and some smoke, great to pair with smoked fish and meats, caviar, foie gras and cured cheeses.
In other words, exactly the smorgasbord you planned to serve your guests this New Year’s Eve. Feliç any nou!