July 11, 2008

Bubbledome #2: A Spaniard in the Dome

Main Event in the McDuff Bubbledome:

Today, the Gran Sarao Brut Cava NV from Spain takes on our current champion, Ferarri Brut NV, from Trento, Italy.

The Italian took the belt in the first-ever battle in the B-dome with a solid, Champenoise nose and autumnal palate. (click here to see the tasting notes.)

The challenger is a Cava made from a blend of mostly traditional Spanish varietals, Macabeo, Xarel-lo, Parellada, and a dose of Chardonnay (10%). It's produced by the Mont Marçal winery in the Penedès wine region and bottled and branded as Gran Sarao for the importer. The Penedès dates the origins of its wine production to the 6th century BC when Phoenicians brought Chardonnay to the area. So it's not like they're José-come-lately to the wine game.

A couple of my favorite sparkling wines are Cavas from Spain. In general, I'm a fan. I bought this one because the tasting notes at K&L Wines made it sound exciting even if the label design is basically lame. I know there's no relationship between what's on the bottle and what's in the bottle. But I couldn't help lowering my expectations. I even bet one of Lab's chemists a week's pay that the Italian takes the fight in a wash.

But the Cava was surprisingly good. Dominating citrus and lemon zest on the nose with hints of almond paste and honey. It was austere, almost elegant, with zippy acid, muted golden apple flavors and a chalky, nutty finish, which, unfortunately, turns bitter at the end, morphing into something like ground peach pit on the tongue.

Not quite the complexity of the Ferrari and lagging behind in structure as well, but the Gran Sarao only cost 8 bucks! That's a huge advantage in the value category.

If it weren't for the bitter finish (and the fact I didn't feel like losing my bet), we might be crowning a new champion today in the B-Dome. But the Italian sparkler had enough stuffing to hang on to the title against this very inexpensive competitor. And I've got a chemist who will be working for free next week.


(bullfight image: © Chantal Ringuette | Dreamstime.com)


David McDuff said...

Ah, and here I thought I'd already been eschewed as title sponsor. My faith is restored!

J David Harden said...

We are not a love 'em and leave 'em kind of lab. Besides, the actual sign on the actual Dome is massive. It's not like we can just swap the thing out willy-nilly.

Beau Rapier said...

David, I DO think your blog is great. The lab does some really interesting things; my favorite being the red wine cooking experiment. I welcome your criticism on my own blog and hope it continues to improve.

J David Harden said...

Beau, You're welcome here anytime. And boy howdy, were you ever savaged. You certainly didn't deserve the full extent of it. And it probably wasn't as entertaining for you as it was for the rest of us. Never seen anything quite like it...

I'm also sorry about calling you Norma Jean. That was uncalled for by me. But I felt I needed it to get my points in (always read carefully). Next time, if, God forbid there's a next time, maybe go quickly to your blog settings and turn off "comments."

Beau Rapier said...

No worries, and actually I was quite entertained by the whole thing (my wife, not as much).

I was wondering if the lab would consider adding an occasional bit that tests all that obnoxious wine gadgetry out there. What actually works and what doesn't? etc. etc.

Cheers and keep up the good work.

Joe Manekin said...

Sarao is definitely a solid deal. I think it is less time on the lees than the also excellent Mont Marcal, and therefore a bit less complex, but still great stuff. [Disclaimer: I work for a retailer who sells this wine in CA].