BUBBLE TROUBLE?!

BUBBLE TROUBLE?

PANIC BUYING AS PROSECCO DROUGHT PREDICTED IN UK!

Readers may already have read in UK national newspapers about an impending shortage of the Italian sparkling wine, Prosecco. Last year Prosecco sales in the UK increased by a whopping 75% and in fact superseded those of Champagne, making it Britain’s most popular sparkling wine!

However, as the harvest last year (which will be responsible for this year’s Prosecco) was so poor, often with yields 50% less than in the previous years, it is feared that there simply will not be enough to go round. Once the story broke, initially in the newspapers and then, virally, via social media, a wave of panic buying took place with shopping trolleys laden with Prosecco bottles first, food second, if at all!

If you’re already aware of this you might think I’m a little slow to make a comment – oh, he’s not as ‘breaking news’ as he was before his operation, you know! Well, those of us involved professionally in the wine trade have been aware of the possibility of such a shortage for a good number of months now. My failure to pass comment thus far, has been because I’ve spent some time trying to get over my total incredulity:

  1. Why on earth has Prosecco become so popular in the UK?
  1. Who cares if there’s a shortage?

The wine writing fraternity in the UK reported the story quoting various producers’, négociants’, importers’ and retailers’ plans to try and satisfy their customers, whom they expect will want to buy at least as much Prosecco as they did last year. And that was one billion pounds worth! I kid you not – 1 Billion quid!

However my colleagues were also keen to point out that there are alternatives – and they all mentioned Cava. Now, perhaps I’m a touch biased, but I wouldn’t place Cava in the ‘alternative to Prosecco’ category! Strewth! I would always buy Cava, and for that matter most other Spanish Sparkling Wines, well before Prosecco. For me, Prosecco is an alternative to Spanish Fizz, though, in fact, personally, I’d do without the bubbles if the Italian alternative was the only choice!

My apologies to our Italian friends, although it may appear so, I’m not a complete Prosecco-ist. The vast, vast majority of Prosecco sold in the UK is at the economic, entry level. This, of course, is why its sales have rocketed – it sparkles and is much cheaper than Champagne, cheaper too, than Cava.

Next time your are in the UK, take a surreptitious look at the retailer’s Prosecco bottle labels – if it says DOC, it’s at this cheaper end of the price/quality scale. If it’s DOCG, then it’s better quality and may be worth buying – if the Cava has run out, that is!

VARIAS COOL WITH FLOWERS

Now, I’m going to join my UK wine writing colleagues and talk about an alternative to Prosecco, but not just generally, I’d like to tell you about a specific Cava that I tasted recently in Ciudad Real, when I was at Fenavin, the Spanish National Wine Fair.

For me, the Prosecco’s I’ve tasted, and I’ve tasted a fair few, are all on the slightly sweet side (some, far too much so). It would seem to me therefore that the current craze in the UK is for sparklers that do have an element of the off-dry, to slightly sweet, about them. So, if there’s a Cava of this style, which, being Cava and not Prosecco, isn’t as shallow in flavour and lightweight in mouth-feel, it’s bound to go down well in the UK (in every sense of the phrase!). Indeed, I’m aware that many readers also have this preference so you’ll be interested too.

VARIAS FLORS i VIOLES LARGE BOTTLE

Flors i Violes Cava tastes as if it’s at the slightly higher end of the Brut scale regarding its residual sugar. Brut equals Dry, but you can have a Brut that has 4 grams of residual sugar per litre, as well as one that has the maximum 12 grams. Flors i Violes has 10.

In fact the other Brut Cavas made by this excellent bodega are on the driest side, veering towards the minimum. This is a new Cava, and new is exactly correct – the launch date was the week of Fenavin, early May, so I was delighted to be one of the first to taste it.

Cava Varias, the producer, has its ear to the ground and is well aware of the demand for this style of fizz. Flors i Violes targets primarily the young (the marketing that accompanied the launch is, well, cool!) but it’s not a trivial product, it enfranchises all those who like their fizz, perhaps in a Prosecco style, and some!

VARIAS FLUTE ON FINGER

On the first hit it’s light on the palate, pure tongue-tickling fun! But hold it there and you’ll feel that it’s had more than the minimum 9 months en rima (in bottle with its lees) – in fact it’s had a year, giving the wine more body. You might detect the slight presence of apple, faintly cider-esque, coming from the Macabeo. The mid-length depth of flavour after swallowing comes for the Xarel.lo variety and when you reach again for the glass the perfume is from the Parellada, which also gives an elegance to such a fun Cava!

VARIAS SCOOTER

It’s a celebratory drink, for sure, but try it as an aperitif and/or after dinner. Plus, if you are looking for a style of cuisine with which to pair this brand new Cava, then try Chinese food, and maybe Indonesian and Thai.

There’ll be more soon about the Cavas and still wines from Cava Varias (www.cavavarias.com)

Contact Colin: colin@colinharknessonwine.com and through his website www.colinharknessonwine.com where you can also subscribe to his newsletters which give information about the bodega tours, wine tastings, wine/food parings and Short Breaks he organises. You can also follow Colin on Twitter @colinonwine .

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