FREIXENET – MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE!
Regular readers may wonder if I’ve changed my religion! I haven’t, but I do admit to writing a few articles recently about Kosher wines, wines which are, of course, designed for the Jewish Community.
A wholly intolerant Spain of the middle ages firstly treated Spanish Jews dreadfully, ultimately expelling any who were left alive. Fortunately the Inquisition is consigned to history, and Spain, we hope, is tolerant of all religions, colours and creeds.
There are flourishing Jewish communities in various cities of Spain, Barcelona and Benidorm to name but two. There are certain dietary laws which must be followed by practising Jews and, though I’m no expert, I understand that this means that only Kosher food and drink may be consumed.
With so many wonderful wines available in Spain it perhaps has been frustrating for Spanish Jews that so few have been Kosher and therefore permitted for their various festivals. Fortunately, as Bob Dylan (who was born into a Jewish family) wrote: The Times They are A’ Changing!
Truly outstanding Kosher red wine is made in DO Montsant, by Celler Capçanes; good reds are also made in Yecla, at Bodegas Castaño, and in DO Navarra by Bodegas Fernandez de Arcaya. There are others too, though I haven’t yet heard of any whites.
However I’m sure it will delight Jewish people to know that there is now a Kosher Cava available in Spain, made, not so much by a bodega, but more of Spanish institution – Bodegas Freixenet!
I’m sure that there is celebration in some of the Jewish festivals – and what better way to celebrate than with some sparkling wine? This innovative move by Bodegas Freixenet will, itself, be celebrated, I’m sure. The cava in question – comes in two styles, Brut, dry and a super aperitif fizz; and Semi-Seco a sparkler designed for those with a sweeter tooth, and a wine that can be used at the end of dinner for a toast etc, perhaps with the dessert.
More on the two ‘Freixenet Excelencia’ cavas later!
It’s a fairly safe bet, I’m sure, to suggest that everyone reading this column has, at some time or other, drunk a Freixenet cava. There is a huge range of them and they consistently prove that big is beautiful. I forget how many millions of bottles of cava are stacked on specially designed pallets in the huge underground cellars (so huge there is a train that takes visitors around it) above which sit the iconic Bodegas Freiexenet buildings – complete with antiques, tasting rooms, shop (claro!) and even cinema. No matter, the number is almost incomprehensible anyway!
Look in the Peñin Guide and you’ll see practically a whole page of cavas listed, meriting points from the top 80s to the mid 90s. The distinctive Cordón Negro (come on, admit it, you have a free cava glass with this name emblazoned on the base!); the Carta Nevada, usually found right next to the former, on supermarket shelves; right up to the Meritum Gran Reserva along with other prestigious cuvées . They are all there!
This huge institution exports its cavas all over the world and has offices in, for example, Japan, Mexico, Shanghai, Scandinavia, USA, Canada and Argentina, to name just a selection. Each year at Christmas time the wine and television worlds wait in anticipation to see which famous actors have been selected to head the new Festive Advertising Campagne, which in itself has become an institution. Previous celebrities to have appeared have been Sharon Stone, Antonio Banderas and most recently Shakira, with amongst other Scorsese as Director! Such is the fame of Freixenet!
The Excelencia range of Kosher Cavas sell like hot cakes in the USA and, having tasted them, I have a feeling that after this article Freixenet will be pressurised into making sure they are readily available here too!
Personally I prefer, Brut and Brut Nature Cava – both are perfect matches for many aperitifs; and of course as a celebratory drink, and none too expensive, cava can hardly be beaten! So the Excelencia Brut suits my palate perfectly.
There’s the usual patisserie notes on the nose – a natural aromatic characteristic which comes from autolysis, part of the sparkling wine making process – of course. But when one lingers with intent there are also pear and green apple notes, from the 100% Macabeo variety, one of the three traditional cava varieties.
The wine spends fifteen months en rima (in contact with its lees). The minimum time specified by the Consejo Regulador is a mere nine months, but generally the longer this time is, the better the cava produced. It’s clear that Freixenet is committed to making quality cava for this market.
I recommend holding the sparkling wine on the palate for a few seconds before swallowing. You’ll find that you’ll be able to appreciate better its flavour and depth, as well as those invigorating bubbles!
I know that there are many lovers of fizz who prefer a sweeter style – perhaps as an aperitif, but for me, far better with a dessert as well as with some of the sweeter styles of Chinese cuisine. Here the freshness of the bubbles can cut through the richness of the dish whilst the sweetness of the drink adds to the overall depth of flavour of the food. A very good match.
So, whether you are or are not Jewish, you may well like to visit www.freixenet.es and search for Excelencia Kosher Cava!