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)