New Year’s Resolutions 2018!


I won’t be the only journalist thinking about New Year Resolutions right now (at the time of writing it’s a week before Christmas), I’m certain. I won’t be the only wine writer, either – but I’m happy to be doing so.

Although writing resolutions for myself, of course, I’m also writing with readers in mind too. Whilst I wouldn’t presume to make your resolutions for or you, NYRs are a personal thing, after all, I’m nevertheless not averse to hoping that readers might follow suit, to a degree at least?

Regulars will know that I’ve written more than a few words about Cava in recent years, perhaps more so in 2017, with the introduction of the concept of Premium Cava and, of course, the new top designation, Cava de Paraje Calificada. So, it’s understandable that I might include a reference to Spain’s excellent sparkling wine in the NYRs of 2018.

My resolution this year is to drink more Premium Cava. Generally speaking, Premium Cava refers to Cava that is made in the Reserva and Gran Reserva styles – in other words, cavas that have been aged on their lees for more than 15 months (the minimum for Reserva cava; Gran Reservas must have had 30 months minimum).

However, it’s not just those cavas labelled Reserva or Gran Reserva that we should be buying. And herein lies one of the problems with Cava – it’s sometimes a little nebulous. Joven cava must have had a minimum of 9 months ‘en rima’. You’ll know what that means by now, if a regular reader, if not, well, it means the bottle is virtually upside down, with the cava sitting atop the sediment, which is in fact the dead lees that were used to provoke the second fermentation.

Now, if you look at the above re Reserva and Gran  Reserva you’ll glean that this ‘en rima’ position is important regarding the quality of the cava – essentially, the more time ‘en rima’ the fuller, and better the cava. Not all producers want their cava to be full and complex – one of the basic requirements of sparkling wine is that it is celebratory and fresh. This is enough for millions of bottles, but some like to give a little more.

Well the Reservas and Gran Reservas are easy to identify, most of the time – it says so on the bottle, but this isn’t always the case. I’ve tasted and enjoyed cavas labelled as Reserva when in fact they’ve had 30+ months en rima. This puts them just into the Gran Reserva bracket, but it doesn’t say so on the label! Also, there are Gran Reserva cavas that have enjoyed far more than the minimum 30 months – I’ve tasted many that have more than 5 years ageing en rima!

At the other end of the scale there are cavas that are not labelled as Reserva or Gran Reserva that have had more than the minimum 15 months, and can therefore certainly be considered to be in the ‘Premium’ bracket! Confused? So am I! Therefore:

My second NYR is to write to DO Cava and ask that they work out a way of giving consumers all the information we need on the bottle – everyone’s a winner!

I’m going to continue to buy wines this year from areas of production that are off the beaten track. This means from Denominaciónes de Origen that are somewhat less famous than the Rioja, Ribera del Duero et al; and it also means areas that are not DO at all, Vino de la Tierra (VdlT), and others, leading into my buying wines that have no particular area of production on their label whatsoever. Witness, if you will my No.3 in the Tope Ten 2017 – ‘Juan Piernas’, from Bodegas Jorge Piernas, labelled simply Red Wine From Spain!

Finally, as I am limited space-wise these days, I will certainly be seeking out firstly dedicated wine shops to buy my wines – and I’d really like readers to do the same! It is true that, for example, Mas y Mas supermarkets have significantly upped the ante re their wine selection (after lots of badgering from me, perhaps?!), and this, I think applies to several of the chains.

However, whether these improved wines are looked after properly whilst they await their sales is another matter! And, of course, it’s pointless asking most supermarket staff for advice about their wines, they have neither the interest nor the training. Plus, you won’t see wines well beyond their ‘sell by/consume by’ dates in wine merchants – but I’m sure we’ll see this again in supermarkets.

So, there are a few New Year Resolutions to take into the new year – and beyond, please!

Happy New Year!

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