Make a wine in Spain that sparkles like Champagne, use the same winemaking technique, use (pretty much) the same grapes and you have a wine that tastes like Champagne but at half the price. In Spain, Cava is the best known type of wine made like this and we had a couple of bottles from one of the best-known producers come into the office recently. With the help of some sparkling wine fans, I got to taste them. Cava comes from specific areas in the region surrounding Barcelona so, next month, it may cease to be Spanish at Catalans go to vote on independence for Catalonia on November 9th. We will be drinking ‘Cava di Catalunya’.
The Anna de Codorniu Brut, NV (non-vintage), $15 SRP, is made from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Parellada (one of the traditional Spanish varieties). It is light, creamy and lively. It does not have the common almond flavor associated with Cava and might be described as a less complex rendering of a light Champagne such as Perrier-Jouet.
The Anna de Codorniu Brut Rosé, NV, $15 SRP, is the previous wine’s pink cousin. It is 70% Chardonnay with 30% Pinot Noir. After harvest, the Pinot Noir juice is kept in contact with the grape skins for 3-4 days, taking on the skin’s pigment. The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are fermented separately and only then combined to give the characteristic pink color of the final wine.
This wine is a quite different tasting experience from the brut. Although still dry, it has an upfront fruitiness of red raspberries and tart apples. The mouthfeel is also slightly heavier than the brut.
There was a bubble puzzle with both of these wines. Sparkling wines are characterized by tiny bubbles that emanate from the bottom of the glass and rise in streams until they reach the surface. Usually, in wines that use the Champagne method of production, these beads of bubbles continue for an hour or more after initially opening the bottle. However, in both of these examples the beading had essentially stopped after five minutes. I found one other account online of this early dissipation, but I am not sure if it is bottle variation or a wine feature.
Finally, check out the packaging. These opaque bottles must be two of the most elegant and distinctive bottles in the sparkling wine category.
Anna de Codorniu wines are widely available in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.