My quest to uncover wine categories that aren’t getting as much love as they deserve continues, and just in time for Valentine’s Day. As luck would have it many of the same groups of wine that don’t get enough attention also represent terrific values for wine lovers. Too many wines, too little time is one reason that some of these categories are undervalued. Most of us being stuck in a rut or married to old ideas when it comes to some wines is another. In the case of sparkling wine, we as Americans are stuck in a couple of ruts in fact. It’s time to break out of them and break open some Cava!Just about everyone loves sparkling wine of one type or another. Additionally, most great wine making regions produce at least one style of sparkling wine. None is more famous, decorated with awards, and ultimately expensive as Champagne. Of course not every bottle of Champagne has a prohibitive cost, but many do. Other regions of the world that make sparkling wine often do so from either the classic Champagne varieties or indigenous grapes that tend to flourish locally. Prices, styles and quality vary throughout. In the D.O. Cava there are several exciting things happening. There are producers working with both local grapes as well as international wines to craft Cava. The styles, intent and price-points vary but the quality to price ratio is very good, often shockingly in fact. So why is that? There are a myriad of reasons, but one of them is that the average American consumer is simply unfamiliar with Cava. They’ve designated Champagne for celebrations, California sparkling wines for brunch and Prosecco for sipping on their porch. They could be drinking Cava in any and all of those situations. 
Whenever I drink Cava I’m stunned by the quality in the glass for the price on the bottle. So with that in mind I wanted to round up some examples of Cava that I believe should be on all of our short lists for any situation that is suited for sparkling wine. And let’s face it: what instance isn’t improved with bubbly of one type or another in your glass? I tasted just over two dozen Cava’s and came up with five that stand above the others to me. I picked them because they’re delicious and well made first and foremost; but also because I think they represent particularly good values. There’s no wrong time to drink Cava. These are food friendly wines, so pair them with your favorite meals. And sure, celebrate with them too. But really, let the bottle be the reason for the celebration.
This Cava is a blend of Pinot Noir (70%) and Chardonnay (30%). Grapes were fermented separately then blended and put in bottle with the dosage. The wine underwent secondary fermentation in the bottle. Fresh wild strawberry and cherry aromas fill the nose. Red fruits continue through, and dominate the palate. The finish is crisp and clean with hints of watermelon and sour cherry joined by a bit of white pepper. This is an extremely delicious wine that has gentle bits of sweetness interspersed in it. For the price it’s an entry level steal. It’ll pair well with all sort of light appetizers. I actually tried it with a pizza margherita and it worked remarkably well.
A blend of Macabeu, Xarel-lo and Parellada are pulled together to create this Cava. It’s made in the classic method and spends more than 9 months sur lies. 100,000 bottles of this organic wine were produced. The nose is remarkably fresh with lemon zest, apple orchard aromas, and a wisp of sage. The palate shows of continued fresh fruit with orange peel, flaky biscuit and a host of spices. Marzipan, crème fraiche and continued citrus elements are all in play on the above average finish. It’s completely different than the prior wine in style, and taste, but equally delicious, and another killer value. Taste these first two side by side to get an inexpensive window into the diversity of Cava.
All of the fruit was sourced in the Cava D.O. of Penedes Spain. This Cava blends together Xarel-lo (40%), Macabeo (30%), and Parallada (30%). Primary fermentation took place in stainless steel followed by secondary fermentation in bottle using the traditional method. Aging took place over a year. 150,000 6 bottle cases of this Cava were produced. Apple and toasted almond aromas are in heavy evidence on the nose of this Cava. The palate shows off more orchard fruit such as granny smith apple, hints of lemon ice and sufficient acidity to think keeps nice and zippy. The seductively long finish features continued fruit flavors and a gentle kiss of crème fraiche. This is a refreshing wine that is delicious on its own and with a particularly wine range of food. I paired it with “40 Garlic Cloves Chicken” and roasted potatoes, a classic match.
All of the fruit was sourced in the Cava D.O. of Penedes Spain. This wine is entirely Chardonnay. This wine is made using the traditional method. A bevy of orchard fruit aromas are joined by lemon zest and orange peel on the bright and welcoming nose. The palate is refined, gentle and complex. Bits of toast are in play alongside tons of fruit such as apple and apricot to name a couple. Flaky biscuit and spices such as white pepper and clove are part of the lengthy finish. Don’t over-chill this gorgeous Cava. As it gets a few degrees warmer than the average whit is served its depth of flavors really pop out. Pair this with anything but extremely big foods for the best matches. 
This Cava is made up entirely of Pinot Noir. The vineyards oldest vineyards are the source for this wine. It’s produced using the traditional method and spends roughly 15 months sur-lies. 52,000 6 bottle cases were produced. The light salmon hue is striking when you pour it. Red fruits aromas such as cherry and raspberry are present alongside subtle bits of toasted hazelnut. The palate here has a gentle, almost deceptive complexity to it. Soft red fruits rule the day alongside a hint of vanilla bean. The finish is notably long and persistent. This will pair well with lighter foods, but it’s also simply impossible to put down, all by itself. It would be an excellent choice for a special meal.
I strongly recommend each and every one of the wines above. Taken as a piece these wines offer a small peak into the stunning values that are available from Cava. Whether you need a welcome wine for your next party, something interesting to pair with dinner tonight or you want to toast a special occasion, consider Cava, your wallet will retain some weight and your taste buds will be pleased.