DE MULLER SPARKLING WINE FROM TARAGONNA
YOUR COLUMNIST GOES FIZZING CRAZY!
Yes, I agree! I am writing a lot of sparkling articles these days – thank you.
Oh, sorry, I see, it wasn’t a compliment, more of a comment about the number of Cork Talks that involve sparkling wines! Well, apologies if you are all but fizzed-out, but please indulge me this one more time (for now!).
I write this time, not about Cava, love it though I do. This article is an acknowledgment of the fact that here in Spain, whilst there are of course wonderful Cavas, there are also excellent sparkling wines, that for a number of reasons, are not allowed to be called Cava. Such wines are made in the same way, ‘Metode Tradicional’ (the Traditional Method, i.e. the same way in which Champagne is made, by a second fermentation in the bottle), and are therefore often similar in style, even IN aroma and flavour. Plus, they are usually extremely good value for money!
A recent tasting of five Sparkling Wines from DO Tarragona perfectly illustrated these points. Re-reading my notes now, I think I said it all – “Amazing prices; incredible value; super sparklers!”.
A selection from Bodegas De Muller was used, eloquently presented by their representative, whose card I’ve unfortunately lost! First up was the ‘Mas de Valls Brut Nature’ from Bodegas De Muller. It’s a blend of Macabeo, Chardonnay and Parellada, the former and the latter being traditional cava varieties, with the Chardonnay a relative new kid on the block in cava-land, but a staple in Champagne, of course. So, an encouraging start.
It’s had 15 months en rima (remember the minimum for cava is just 9 months, and it’s this time that adds depth of flavour, complexity and mouth-feel). You’ll appreciate its golden colour and enjoy the freshness of this sparkler, the characteristic that we all love in fizz, and there’s more. On the nose there are hazelnuts and this blends on the palate with a very slight, Chardonnay-inspired buttery note. This ladies and gentlemen is their entry level fizz – and what an excellent price, retailing at under 4€!
Priced at around the 6€ mark(!!), De Muller Pinot Noir (yes, she of Champagne!) Brut Nature Reserva has a whole 36 months en rima under its belt (were it cava, this would qualify it for Gran Reserva status!), and is a superb, rich, yet fresh still, Blanc de Noir – i.e. a white sparkling wine made with black grapes. The 100% Pinot grapes are harvested at night to preserve freshness and super violet aromas in the finished product. Blackberries are faintly found on the palate, and as you would expect from such a ‘premium sparkling wine’, there’s is a long delightful finish.
In the De Muller mono-varietal range of three (named Trílogia) you’ll also find Chardonnay. Again labeled ‘Reserva’ this Brut Nature is in the same amazing price bracket as its fellow Champagne variety above, and has enjoyed a long time on its lees, en rima, where it has gathered depth of flavour, but not at the expense of freshness. A very slight buttery element loiters with intent amongst the typical sparkling wine biscuity yeasty aromas. Classy!
Their Muscat Reserva, the final wine of the trilogy, is a Gold Medal winner, and there’s an interesting story too! Muscat has been grown here for a long time, and because of careful vineyard management and vine selection, De Muller are able to make from this variety, three wholly different styles of wine.
The first harvest, early to preserve essential acidity, is destined for their Sparkling Wine, making racing base wine. The second harvest, from the same extensive vineyards, but different vines, of course, is destined for their dry, still white wines (watch this space!). And finally, many readers will know of the lovely dessert Muscat wines, and as you’ve guessed De Muller makes theirs from a third and final harvest of the remaining vines, about a month later than the first picking.
The Sparkling Wine I tasted, and enjoyed, has a little leafy floral aroma to add to the usual slightly raisony notes found with Moscatel. It’s a Reserva again, though this time a very slightly higher sugar content puts it into the Brut class, rather than the driest style of sparkling wine, Brut Nature.
Reina Violant, perhaps their flagship fizz, has enjoyed an impressive 5 years en rima! It’s made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and has the body and depth to partner light meats, fish and seafood as well as all manner of rice dishes. There is a pleasing slight cider-esque nose that blends in nicely with some understated tropical fruit and pleasing citrus acidity!