Last night’s dinner featured a bottle of non-vintage Gran Sarao rose cava from Penedes, Spain ($15). The wine itself was excellent, with notes of tart jammy strawberry and hints of orange peel buttressed by a distinct minerality and acidity. It worked well as an apertif and an accompaniment to spinach salad with cranberries, walnuts, and granny smith apples lightly tossed in a pomegranate vinaigrette.

Cava, for the uninitiated, is the general name given to sparkling wines produced in Spain. The process for making bubbly cava is essentially the same as the one used in the production of Champagne, though cava is about half to a third as expensive as true Champagne. Typically speaking, you can find good imported cava for between $10-$20.

Gran Sarao, the producer of the rose I drank last night, makes their rose from the indigenous red grape Trepat, a grape native to the Penedes region in eastern Spain. It is not a grape I am typically familiar with, though a large amount of Trepat production does go into the production of rose wines for export. Penedes itself is situated on the Mediterranean coast between Barcelona and Tarragona, and exhibits a generally Meditarranean climate. Numerous specific microclimates exist as a result of variable terrain, with some regions as much as 800 meters from sea level. This allows for the production of a number of grape varietals, including the international varieties (particularly chardonnay). Notably, chardonnay is not the predominant varietal in white sparkling cava; these wines are typically composed of the varietals Macabeo, Parellada, and Xa-rello.

In any case, I recommend this wine both as a highly quaffable apertif and as a reasonable alternative to higher-priced rose sparklers from Champagne and California. If you’re interested in obtaining this wine, email us at toptenwines@socket.net.

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