Wine of the Week: Raventós i Blanc “L’hereu” Brut

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2011 Raventós i Blanc “L’hereu” Brut.

The Winery

The family of producer Raventós i Blanc, has been winemaking in the Catalonia region of Spain for an astonishing 500+ years! They’ve grown grapes on their historic 90 hectares (just over 222 acres) property, which has been in the family since 1497.

In 1872, Josep Raventós Fatjó, the great-great-great-grandfather of current manager/winemaker and oenologist Josep “Pepe”Raventós, began experimenting with Spanish wines made in the same manner as was being done in Champagne, France – and hence, CAVA was born.  But unlike Champagne, the DO Cava designation is defined by a specific practice of winemaking, rather than a region where wine is made. There are over six regions with the DO Cava status, though over 90% of production is from the Penedès region. The town of Sant Sadurni d’Anoia is the unofficial Cava capital in the heart of Penedès, home of many top producers, including the benchmark estate of Raventós i Blanc.

Josep “Pepe” Raventós of Raventós i Blanc decided that, given Cava’s less-than-glorious reputation, he wasn’t going to call his wines “Cava” anymore but “Conca del Riu Anoia,” or simply “Conca” for short. 

In December 2012, Raventós i Blanc took an important step in its evolution, leaving the Cava DO and creating a new designation, Conca del Riu Anoia. This small geographical area will convey strict viticultural traditions, the strength of the land, the unique, indigenous grape varieties and the characteristics of the soils.

The exclusive use of native Catalan varietals like Xarel·lo, Parellada and Macabeo is one of Mr. Raventós’s criteria for producers who wish to use the Conca name for sparkling wines. (Many Cava producers also employ Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.) In addition, 80% of their fruit must be their own, not purchased; they must produce only vintage sparkling wines, no nonvintage; and they must age their wines for at least 18 months (current Cava law requires a minimum of just nine months of aging). Would-be Conca producers must also observe both biodynamic and organic practices.

The Wine

This wine is produced from nearly 100% estate, biodynamically grown fruit. The grapes are harvested by hand and rapidly delivered to the winery, where they are processed via a gravity flow system.  It’s a blend of 45% Macabeo, 35% Xarel.lo, and 20% Parellada. The is dosage is 8.5g/l.  12% alcohol

Wine of the Week: Raventós i Blanc "L'hereu" Brut

It’s NOT Cava, it’s Conca del Riu Anoia!

My tasting notes follow:

Pale gold color with lots of pin prick bubbles, and autolytic, yellow apple, pear, citrus and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s clean and fresh with a moderately creamy mousse with apple, ginger, lemon, lime and mineral flavors. Lingering finish. 

Rating: A-  This is a serious wine that drinks like many $35-$40 sparkling wines I’ve enjoyed in terms of complexity and refinement (including many entry-level Champagne) It’s a fantastic value at <$20!  >>Find this wine<<

Pair with: Popcorn with Truffle butter, Mesclun Salad with Veggies, Goat Cheese, and Crispy Garlic, or Fish and Chips!

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…2008 Raventos i Blanc Cava L’Hereu Reserva Brut

This post is an “update” in that I blogged about the 2007 Raventos i Blanc Cava L’Hereu Reserva Brut last year (see below for link).  That vintage also made my “Top 10 Sparkling Wines Under $20” list.  So how’s the 2008 vintage?  Before I get to that, now that I’m a Cava convert here’s the 411 on Cava.

Unlike Champagne, Cava isn’t from a particular region in Spain, rather it’s a term used for Spanish sparklers made in the traditional method (known as Méthode Champenoise) used in France.  While there are some other regions in Spain that also make Cava,  about 95% of the production  comes from the traditional home of Cava, the Penedes region in Catalunya (a.k.a. Catalonia)  The basic rules for making wines that may be called Cava are:

  • Must be made in the traditional method.
  • Must age on lees in the bottle in which it will be sold for a minimum of 9 months, 18 months for Reservas and 24 months for Gran Reservas.
  • All the grapes used must be white grapes – the 3 most common being Macabeo (a.k.a. Viura), Parellada (pronounced pa-re-yada), and Xarel.lo (pronounced cha-rel-low) – unless you are making a Rose, in which case certain red grapes are permitted.

The producer of this sparkler, Raventós i Blanc, is the only Cava producer to estate grow (on about 200 acres of land that has been in the family since 1497!) and bottle all their wines.  Their Cavas are all vintage dated, which also sets them apart.

2008 Raventos i blanc Cava L’Hereu Reserva Brut

2008 Raventos i Blanc Cava “L’Hereu Reserva Brut

Region: Spain>Catalunya>Cava

Variety - 60% Macabeo, 20% Xarel.lo, 120% Parrellada

Residual Sugar – 8g/Liter

$20, 12% a.b.v.

Production method: Traditional Method;

My tasting notes follow:

Very light straw yellow color with plenty of tiny bubbles, and yeast, green apple, and mineral aromas. On the palate, it shows a wonderfully creamy mousse uncommon at this price point.  It is dry, refined, and approaches medium-bodied with apple, mineral and a hint on citrus flavors. Medium finish – 90pts

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food because of their crisp acidity, and effervescence (think scrubbing bubbles)  This paired surprisingly well with one of my favorite ethnic foods , Jerk Chicken with Red Beans and Rice, and Fried Plantains.  When I took a bite of the spicy Jerk Chicken, et al , and took a sip of the Cava, it became ever so slightly sweeter in my mouth.  Then the acidity and effervescence cleansed my palate and invited me to take another bite!

Recommendation: So far, this is my favorite Cava.  It cost $20, and easily drinks like many $40 sparklers I’ve enjoyed in terms of complexity and refinement (including some entry-level Champagne)  I highly recommend! Click here to find this wine, or the 2009 vintage, which is currently available.

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…2008 Raventos i blanc Cava L’Hereu Reserva Brut

For this week’s sparkler it’s back to what’s becoming a favorite of mine, Cava.  Unlike Champagne, Cava isn’t from a particular region, rather it’s a term used for Spanish sparklers made in the traditional method (known as Méthode Champenoise) used in France.  While there are some other regions in Spain that also make Cava,  about 95% of the production  comes from the traditional home of Cava, in the Penedes region in Catalunya (a.k.a. Catalonia)  The basic rules for making wines that may be called Cava are as follows:

  • Must be made in the traditional method.
  • Must age on lees in the bottle in which it will be sold for a minimum of 9 months, 18 months for Reservas and 24 months for Gran Reservas.
  • All the grapes used for must be white grapes – the 3 most common being Macabeo (a.k.a. Viura), Parellada (pronounced pa-re-yada), and Xarel.lo (pronounced cha-rel-low) – unless you are making a Rose, in which case certain red grapes are permitted.

The producer, Raventós i Blanc, is the only Cava producer to estate grow (on about 200 acres of land that has been in the family since 1497!) and bottle all their wines.  After commissioning an in-depth study of their unique estate, it was determined that there are 44 individual parcels, each managed separately.  All the fruit is biodynamically farmed, handpicked and processed via a gravity flow system.  Their Cavas are all vintage dated, which also sets them apart.

I previously reviewed (and very much enjoyed) the 2007 vintage of this wine, so I was eager to try the 2008 vintage.

2008 Raventos i blanc Cava L'Hereu Reserva Brut

2008 Raventós i Blanc Cava “L’Hereu” Reserva Brut

Region: Spain>Catalunya>Cava

Variety – 60% Macabeo, 20% Xarel.lo, 20% Parrellada

Residual Sugar – 6g/Liter

$18, 12% a.b.v.

Production method: Méthode Champenoise;

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Very light straw color with tiny bubbles

Aromas: Green apple, brioche, and faint mineral aromas.

Body: On the palate a creamy, delicate mousse uncommon at this price point.  Approaching medium-bodied mouthfeel

Taste: Green apple, citrus and mineral flavors.

Finish: Medium

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate refreshing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). This was delightful as an aperitif and with food.   Try this one with tapas, especially seafood tapas, or maybe grilled seafood such as grilled scallops.

This is another winner from Raventós!   It’s a classy Cava that delivers exceptional value for the money!  90 pts   (Click here to find this wine)

Top 10 Sparkling Wines Under $20 Redux

Since February, I’ve been enjoying sparkling wines from around the world on a weekly basis, and blogging about it in my “T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like… series.  One of the things I’ve learned, is that there are plenty of sparklers that offer great bang for the buck.  I’ve found some very good to excellent sparklers for less than $20, including, to my surprise a few Rosé sparklers, which are among the food friendliest of wines.  My top 10 list follows:
  1. NV Taltarni Brut Tache -  (Australia)  Lovely pale salmon color with floral, stone fruit (peaches/apricots), and fresh-baked scone aromas. On the palate, approaching medium-bodied, with a creamy mousse with watermelon, red berry, and a bit of hazelnut flavors. Dry with a light fruitiness, good acidity, and a clean medium long finish.
  2. Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rose - (California) Delicate pink color with strawberry and bread dough aromas.  On the palate, moderately creamy mousse, good acidity, focused, fruity, yet dry, and lively, with strawberries, raspberries and a touch of citrus, and spice flavors. Medium finish.
  3. 2008 Raventos i Blanc L’Heure Blanc Brut Reserva - (Spain)  Very light straw yellow color with plenty of tiny bubbles, and yeast, green apple aromas. On the palate, a wonderful creamy mousse uncommon at this price point, dry, and approaching medium-bodied with apple, and a hint on citrus flavors. Medium finish
  4. NV Graham Beck Brut Rose - (South Africa) Watermelon pink color with a hint of silver with aromas of yeast, and raspberries.  On the palate, a creamy mousse, fruity, yet dry, with crisp acidity and raspberries, cherries flavors, with a slight mineral overtone, and a hint of citrus on the back palate.  Short-medium finish. Great QPR!
  5. NV Gruet Blanc de Noirs - (New Mexico)  Salmon color with an abundance of dispersed tiny bubbles with brioche and apple aromas. On the palate approaching medium bodied with a moderately aggressive mousse, balanced with pear, sweet baking spice, vanilla, and nuanced citrus flavors. Short finish .
  6. 2008 Antech “Cuvée Eugénie” Crémant de Limoux - (France) Light straw color with brioche, Fuji apple, and floral aromas.  On the palate, crisp with zippy acidity, a moderately creamy mousse, and sweet green apple, pear, and toast flavors.  Medium finish.
  7. NV Jean Louis Denois Brut Tradition - (France)  Light straw color with bread dough, and apples aromas.  On the palate creamy, dry, and crisp, with good acidity with pear, apple, hazelnuts flavors along with a touch of minerals. Medium finish. Very good QPR.
  8. NV Segura Viudas Brut Reserva - (Spain) Light straw color with fine bead of bubbles with bread dough and lemon-lime citrus aromas.  On the palate, light bodied, with moderately creamy mousse with green apple, and tart citrus flavors. Short finish. This one is “everyday” sparkler for me.  It’s a great value at $9/bottle!
  9. Mionetto Brut Prosecco Treviso -  (Italy) Very light – the color of clarified butter, with sweet bread,wet stone and citrus aromas. On the palate, closer to off-dry than dry for me, fairly well-balanced, with sweet lemon-lime, fuji apple, and slight vanilla flavors.  It grew on me more and more with each sip. Medium finish.
  10. 2008 Korbel Natural - (California) Pale golden-yellow color with yeast ,red fruit, and apple aromas.  On the palate light bodied, crisp, between dry and off-dry.  Straight-forward with cherry, apple, minerals, and a touch of honey flavors.  Short-medium finish.
Click here to find these wines.

In addition to the sparklers noted above, there are a handful of sparklers I heartily recommend that didn’t make the list because they retail for more than $20.  However, because they are widely distributed, they frequently go on sale. When they do – grab a bottle and see for yourself!

(Listed in order of preference)

Top 10 Sparkling Wines Under $20

Over the last 30 or so weeks I’ve enjoyed sparkling wines from around the world on a weekly basis, and blogged about it in my “T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like… series.  One of the things I’ve learned, is that there are plenty of sparklers that offer great bang for the buck.  I’ve found some very good to excellent sparklers for less than $20, including, to my surprise a few Rosé sparklers, which are among the food friendliest of wines.  My top 10 list follows
  1. NV Taltarni Brut Tache -  (Australia)  Lovely pale salmon color with floral, stone fruit (peaches/apricots), and fresh-baked scone aromas. On the palate, approaching medium-bodied, with a creamy mousse with watermelon, red berry, and a bit of hazelnut flavors. Dry with a light fruitiness, good acidity, and a clean medium long finish.
  2. Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rose - (California) Delicate pink color with strawberry and bread dough aromas.  On the palate, moderately creamy mousse, good acidity, focused, fruity, yet dry, and lively, with strawberries, raspberries and a touch of citrus, and spice flavors. Medium finish.
  3. 2008 Raventos i Blanc L’Heure Blanc Brut Reserva - (Spain)  Very light straw yellow color with plenty of tiny bubbles, and yeast, green apple aromas. On the palate, a wonderful creamy mousse uncommon at this price point, dry, and approaching medium-bodied with apple, and a hint on citrus flavors. Medium finish
  4. NV Graham Beck Brut Rose - (South Africa) Watermelon pink color with a hint of silver with aromas of yeast, and raspberries.  On the palate, a creamy mousse, fruity, yet dry, with crisp acidity and raspberries, cherries flavors, with a slight mineral overtone, and a hint of citrus on the back palate.  Short-medium finish. Great QPR!
  5. NV Gruet Blanc de Noirs - (New Mexico)  Salmon color with an abundance of dispersed tiny bubbles with brioche and apple aromas. On the palate approaching medium bodied with a moderately aggressive mousse, balanced with pear, sweet baking spice, vanilla, and nuanced citrus flavors. Short finish .
  6. 2008 Antech “Cuvée Eugénie” Crémant de Limoux - (France) Light straw color with brioche, Fuji apple, and floral aromas.  On the palate, crisp with zippy acidity, a moderately creamy mousse, and sweet green apple, pear, and toast flavors.  Medium finish.
  7. NV Jean Louis Denois Brut Tradition - (France)  Light straw color with bread dough, and apples aromas.  On the palate creamy, dry, and crisp, with good acidity with pear, apple, hazelnuts flavors along with a touch of minerals. Medium finish. Very good QPR.
  8. NV Segura Viudas Brut Reserva - (Spain) Light straw color with fine bead of bubbles with bread dough and lemon-lime citrus aromas.  On the palate, light bodied, with moderately creamy mousse with green apple, and tart citrus flavors. Short finish. This one is “everyday” sparkler for me.  It’s a great value at $9/bottle!
  9. Mionetto Brut Prosecco Treviso -  (Italy) Very light – the color of clarified butter, with sweet bread,wet stone and citrus aromas. On the palate, closer to off-dry than dry for me, fairly well-balanced, with sweet lemon-lime, fuji apple, and slight vanilla flavors.  It grew on me more and more with each sip. Medium finish.
  10. 2008 Korbel Natural - (California) Pale golden-yellow color with yeast ,red fruit, and apple aromas.  On the palate light bodied, crisp, between dry and off-dry.  Straight-forward with cherry, apple, minerals, and a touch of honey flavors.  Short-medium finish.
Click here to search for these wines online

In addition to the sparklers noted above, there are a handful of sparklers I heartily recommend that didn’t make the list because they retail for more than $20.  However, because they are widely distributed, they frequently go on sale. When they do – grab a bottle and see for yourself!

(Listed in order of preference)