Tasting: Citrus, apples, crisp, earthy, dry finish. Pairing: Celebration, pizza party, creamy sauces.
Grape: Xarel.lo, Parellada, Macabeo, Chardonnay
Macabeo (or Viura in Rioja) is a white wine grape used on either side of the Pyrenees, in the north and east of Spain and the southernmost reaches of France. A relatively versatile grape, it is used in still, sparkling, dry and sweet wines. There are few universal truths about how Macabeo tastes; the wines can be fresh, floral and aromatic when harvested sufficiently early and aged in stainless steel, but weighty, honeyed and nutty when aged in oak and harvested slightly later. Spain is unquestionably Macabeo's homeland, most obviously the northern regions. It is the principal ingredient in white wines from Rioja, where the locals call it Viura, and it is used in almost every wine district of Catalonia, particularly in sparkling Cava wines, where it is blended with Parellada and Xarel-lo.
Xarel·lo is a white grape variety of Spanish origin specially grown in Catalonia. With Macabeu and Parellada, is one of the three traditional varieties used to make the sparkling wine Cava. Spanish plantations stood at 8,043 hectares (19,870 acres) in 2008, Xarel·lo wine can be strongly flavored, and is more aromatic than the other two Cava grape varieties. While historically the grape was only produced as part of regional blend in Penedès and Cava, modern winemaking has evolved in the last 20 years to where it is being seen in the form of varietal wines. High-end Cavas have been produced which feature the grape prominently
Parellada is a Spanish white grape variety of Catalan origin specially grown in Catalonia, Spain. With Macabeu and Xarel·lo, it is one of the three traditional varieties used to make the sparkling wine Cava, which is primarily produced in Catalonia. Besides its use in Cava, it is used mostly for blending in young white wines, although some more ambitious oaked blends with Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc are also used. Spanish plantations stood at 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) in 2004. Its good acidity and freshness make these wines extremely suitable for the aperitif. A prime example of this is the micro-distilled Obsello Absinthe which, in addition to being produced in the same region, uses the wine of these grapes in its base spirit.
Chardonnay is another native grape to Burgundy (France) and is solely responsible for "White Burgundy" wines. Chardonnay mania reached a peak in the late 1980s during that time it's plantings totaled around 247,000 acres. By 2010 that acreage increase to almost 500,000 acres. Winemakers love Chardonnay for it's malleability. It will respond to a much wider range of winemaking techniques than other white grapes and has the ability to age in the bottle, even when picked early.
Region: Penedes, Spain
Penedes is a Spanish Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) (Denominació d'Origen Protegida in Catalan) for wines in Catalonia, (Spain). Penedès DOP includes all of the Penedès region and municipalities of four other counties: Anoia, Alt Camp, Baix Llobregat and Tarragonès. The area is framed by the coastal hills of the Garraf Massif and the higher inland mountains which skirt the Central Depression. Long considered one of the country's best wine-producing regions after the Rioja, it is also one of the most ancient viticultural areas in Europe. Perhaps better-known for its Cava production (a sparkling wine which has had its own Denominación de Origen since 1986) white grape varieties predominate, although the region also produces some highly regarded, oak-aged reds.
According to archaeological evidence wine production in the Penedès has ancient origins, certainly dating back to the Phoenician introduction of Chardonnay vines during the 6th century BC. A large export market is known to have existed even through Moorish occupation in the Middle Ages. Eighteenth century Spanish expansion into South America generated an unprecedented demand for Penedès wines which has barely abated since. The region has a highly varied geology characterised by very poor-quality, well-drained soils of mostly Miocene sediments, both continental and maritime, with occasional quaternary deposits. The sandy, clay-like soil is poor in organic matter and rocky in the main, the pre-litoral uplands consisting of Triassic, Cretaceous and oceanic deposits, while coastal mountains are mostly jagged Cretaceous limestone.
Vinification: The Cava Brut Reserva is made from the traditional Cava varieties Xarel.lo, Parellada, and Macabeo, plus the addition of Chardonnay to add an element of texture and fruit to the final wine. After harvest, each grape’s must goes through primary fermentation separately in stainless steel before being bottled together with a small dosage (7 g/l) for a second fermentation in bottle. These bottles then rest for at least 20 months before disgorgement and release to the market.
About the Winemaker: Sumarroca is an estate where the Marquies of Monistrol had owned the largest farm in the entire Penedes region of northeast Spain, before a new ownership took it and renamed it in 1999. As the years progress, the Sumarroca family remains involved daily in the operations of the estate, and has a strong commitment to very sustainable farming practices, zero irrigation in the fields, and following strict organic regulations in order to produce the best fruit possible. A combination of several microclimates ranging throughout the fields with influence from the Mediterranean, the protection from the Monserrat mountains, as well as 15 different soil types, makes for a wide range of still and sparkling wines. Not only similar in production and range of dryness to sweetness in Champagne, the Cavas of Spain are comparable to some of the top bubblies of the world.