Casteller Cava Brut
Casteller Cava is a sparkling wine made in the same way as Champagne, with a second fermentation in the bottle. If you like bright, zesty citrus flavors and the fine bubbles of Champagne, try Casteller Cava. Fermented in the bottle and aged for 12 months on the lees before release, this wine consistently delivers premium flavors for the price of a non-premium wine. Casteller literally translates as "tower" in Spanish. The name is a reference to a local Catalonian summer game where different clans compete to create the tallest human tower.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? A superb value from an 800+ hectare (2,000+ acre) estate. Casteller is made by the largest vineyard owner in the Penedés region, which only makes wine with the best 40% of its grapes. The rest is sold in bulk to other neighboring producers. Casteller can use its own high-quality estate fruit in Penedés to make the best value wines without buying grapes from other growers. The bright, clean, citrus character of Casteller is superb and a delight. A textbook Cava, Casteller is as indigenous as it gets.
RATING HISTORY: Top 100 values of 2010 by Wine Enthusiast
GRAPE: 40% Macabeo, 40% Xarello, 20% Parellada. Vines planted in 1995. Tended in limestone, clay and sandy soil at 100 - 500 m (328 - 1,640 ft) elevation. This is a vegan wine.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: This bright, vibrant Cava will pair well with most any tapas, savory or sweet, or casual small plates, especially those centered on seafood. It has more than enough substance and interest to be an excellent aperitif on its own.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: For vinification, the traditional method is used. The effervescence for more complex wines is produced by a secondary fermentation in the bottle, used for the production of quality sparkling wines like Champagne and Cava. The wine is aged for 12 months on the lees. By law, all wines labeled Cava must be aged a minimum of 9 months on the lees.
PRODUCTION: 10,000 cases
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located in Zone 5 in northeastern Spain, a few miles south of Barcelona in the Alt (High) Penedés subregion of the Penedés DO. Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea at 176 meters (577 ft.) elevation, the vineyards and winery are located in the town of Vilafranca del Penedés. The ancient Greeks introduced vines to this area prior to the 4th Century BC. The topsoil is limestone and sand; the latter provides good drainage into the deeper water-retaining layers of clay subsoil and nourishes the vine when necessary. The root systems of the vines are able to penetrate up to 10 meters (about 30 feet) through the deep soil to search for water, particularly in times of drought. The soils are poor in organic matter, resulting in lower yields per vine and greater skin-to-juice ratio per berry, which produces more intense and concentrated grape flavors. The area's climate has an average temperature from April to October of 66.6F, which is higher than the standard in Zone 5 (63F), and has a yearly rainfall of 24 inches. The higher temperatures bring higher levels of sugar while the elevation and rainfall give greater acid levels. The ripeness and acidity balance each other and improve the fresh aromas of the wines. The temperatures in Penedés are higher than those in Priorat and Montsant but lower than those in the Empordá and Terra Alta regions.
TASTING NOTES: The Casteller Brut Cava exhibits green apple and citrus aromas. In the mouth, it has crisp, fresh flavors with citrus-lime notes and just a touch of sweetness. It tastes fresh, clean and nervy.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold