What: You could drink a different sparkling wine every day and not repeat anything for about two months with just the wines available in our market. If you included larger markets nearby such as Atlanta, Columbia, Charlotte and Charleston you might be drinking for six months.
The reason I mention that is because earlier this month I presented a list of about 40 sparkling wines to consider for the holidays. There was only one Spanish cava on the list even though I love cava. You just can’t get to everything in a list like that.
This week, I want to tell you about a cava I recently discovered, Vilarnau Brut Reserva Rosé. Like most cavas I have tasted, it is well made and bargain-priced. Many inexpensive sparklers get their bubbles from an infusion in a tank. Vilarnau undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle, just as Champagne does.
It has an intense pink color with beautiful floral aromas. It is fresh and lively on the palate with flavors of ripe red fruit such as strawberries and blueberries. It has a creamy mouthfeel balanced by a crisp acidity. The bubbles were persistent and lasted throughout our meal.
The wine is made from 85 percent trepat grapes and 15 percent pinot noir. The grapes are macerated separately at 46 degrees for 18 hours in contact with the skins to extract the maximum color and aromas. The skins add a great deal to the aromas.
Then the must is crushed and put in stainless steel tanks for 30 days at 57 degrees. The wine is then blended and bottled, with its second fermentation taking place in the bottle over about six weeks at a constant 59 degrees. The cava is in contact with the mother yeast culture for at least 15 months in the bottle.
The pinot noir vineyard, planted in 1991, was one of the first in Penedés to grow the variety. The vines now have reached optimum balance for high quality grapes.
The trepat grapes come from the area of Conca de Barbera. Its bunches are large and compact, and are ideal for making rosé. Trepat is a red-wine grape variety indigenous to northeastern Spain. It is mostly used in cavas, but sometimes is used in red wine blends.
As beautiful as the wine is, what caught my eye was the label. There are so many exciting labels these days, it is difficult to keep up with them. This one even is grounded in the culture of the region where the grapes are grown.
Vilarnau calls it the Trencadís Edition.Trencadís is a type of mosaic used in Catalan modernism, closely associated with architect Antoni Gaudi, whose most famous work is the Sagrada Familia Catholic church in Barcelona. The church has been under construction since 1882, and is still unfinished. Gaudi died in 1926. It is an incredible work of art that ought to be on your bucket list of things to see.
Even though Vilarnau has been making cavas for nearly 70 years, its first Trencadís label appeared in 2014. Vilarnau is considered Barcelona’s cava, so the company thought it would be appropriate to use the art form on the label, which really is a plastic skin that covers most of the bottle.
Trencadís is a mosaic created from broken ceramic pieces such as plates and tiles. The Vilarnau label is a two-dimensional depiction of such a mosaic. The wine inside is as much a work of art as the mosaic.
Winery: Vilarnau is a small artisanal cava, from an avant-garde designer winery located within the Penedés D.O. region. It is one of the few wineries in the area that controls the entire winemaking process. The winery produces chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, but is primarily known for its cavas, all of which are produced in the traditional method of a second fermentation in the bottle.
The cavas include Vilarnau Brut, Demisec, Brut Nature, Rosé, Gran Reserva Vintage and Albert de Vilarnau.
The winery employs environmentally-friendly practices throughout the winemaking process from the vineyard to packaging and recycling.
Valarnau, which means “The House of Arnau,” made its first aged cavas in 1949. They operate in a state-of-the-art winery with a minimalist design.
Vilarnau is owned by the González Byass company, which owns more than 20 brands. It’s history goes back to 1835 when Manuel Maria González Ángel founded the company, focusing on sherry. His uncle, José Ángel, Tío Pepe (Uncle Joe), showed him everything he knew about sherry. In gratitude, Manuel named the winery’s foundational solera “Solera del Tio Pepe.” That brand of sherry is now one of the best known in the world.
Manuel later joined Robert Blake Byass, his English agent. That partnership lasted until 1988 when the Byass family sold its interests to the descendants of Manuel María González.
Goes With: We had this beautiful sparkler with a nice piece of ham I warmed up with some pineapple slices on top and pineapple juice in the pan to give it some flavor. For a starch, I did my twice-fried potato wedges. We also had pineapple slices and cut up veggies.
Sparkling wine is good with so many foods, but it is especially good with ham. Sometimes you can match up ham with pinot noir, but the salty taste of the ham also can throw off some very nice wines.
With sparkling wine you get a perfect match. I especially liked this Vilarnau Rosé because it was so dry. A sweeter sparkler might compete with the tastes in the ham, but the Vilarnau complemented the ham flavors.
Sparkling wine goes well with just about everything, but this one would be particularly good with pasta, pizza, paella, and as an aperitif. Serve it well chilled, about 45 degrees.
The potato wedges are simple to make and very tasty. First bake several potatoes. If you are in a hurry you can zap them in the microwave.
After the potatoes cool, cut them into wedges, either quarters, sixths or eighths, depending on the size of the potatoes. I like to leave the peels on, but you can remove them if you like.
Then pan fry the wedges in about a half inch of oil at medium heat.Cook, turning the wedges on all three sides until they are nicely browned. Remove from the pan, drain and salt and pepper them.