First Published Costa News Group March 2013



Regular readers will know all about the dramatic turn of events that occurred in the rarefied world of Spanish Sparkling Wine production just before Christmas 2012. Two originally unconnected events coincidentally dovetailed, to the delight of one area of production and to the dismay, albeit stoically borne, of another.


In the north east of Spain where Cataluña proudly boasts 95% of the production of Spain’s classic sparkling wine, Cava, a fissure appeared separating some established producers from the ruling Consejo Regulador of the Denominación de Origen. It was, it seems, a question of quality. Some of the producers of what are internationally recognised as being amongst the best Cavas decided to withdraw from the DO after a sustained period of pleading with the powers that be to try and up the standard in general of Cava, rather than let it continue to spiral downwards.


These upmarket and most prestigious cava-makers, having decided to abandon the ship, would now be obliged to call their produce merely Sparkling Wines, which in international and national terms does not carry the came cache.


Meanwhile, almost as far away as it’s possible to be and yet still remain in Spain, in the far north west, Galicia, the Denominación de Origen Rías Baixas, famed for their wonderful aromatic white wines made with the noble Albariño variety, decided to welcome Sparkling Wines into their portfolio of wines that can be granted the DO seal.


For those of us who love Albariño wines this was a quite remarkable stroke of fortune – some of you who have read previous, quite recent, Cork Talk articles and have had the opportunity to taste the wines will surely, gladly attest to their quality.


It was fortunate too for those Rías Baixas producers who have been stalwartly making top quality sparkling wines for decades, but who had been unable to sell them as DO wines until now.


Imagine their extra delight when, because of the happenings over in ‘Cava Land’, suddenly the wine world’s attention would shift from cava to the other Sparkling Wines of Spain, thus brightening the ‘cava shadow’ under which they’d toiled for so long. Perfect timing, or what?


Bodegas Coto-Redondo is one of the producers who have a track record of making quality Sparkling Wines, which they are now able to label DO Rías Baixas. My request to them for some samples was readily agreed to and sure enough a small case of wines duly arrived – with a surprise included!


The Consejo Regulador has agreed to include sparkling wines as long as they are made with the traditional grape varieties of the area – Albariño of course, but also others. And this includes black grape varieties!


Hence it is entirely possible, and DO approved to boot, to make red sparkling wines, provided that permitted varieties are used – and that means, perhaps the best known red wine variety of the area, Mencía, but others as well.


So my case of wine included white Brut Nature and Brut, plus a fascinating Tinto Brut! With due diligence and on your behalf of course I selflessly stuck to my task!


Señorio de Rubios Brut Nature is of course the driest style of sparkling wine. No sugar is added at all when the second fermentation is induced while the, at this moment, still wine is in bottle. The yeast gets to work on the residual sugar, reducing the already low level of sweetness and producing the carbon dioxide bubbles. After a period of time this bone dry sparkling wine is released onto the market.


Made with: Albariño, Treixadura, Loureiro, Godello and Torrontés, this fragrant white wine (how could it not be aromatic with such a blend?!) is a real beauty! Often sparkling wines are criticised for being rather more closed on the nose than are most still white wines. Yes there are usually patisserie notes, perhaps an oblique reference to apple in the case of cava, with this being a typical characteristic of Macabeo, but not often much alluring fruit. Sparkling wine isn’t really meant to have, but if a sparkling wine can have these bready, sweet pastry notes plus fruit aromas then it could be all the better for it.


And so it is with Señorio de Rubios Brut Nature, whose elegance is undisputed with a fine mousse sending diamond-like flashes through the pale gold liquid as they rise from the bottom of the flute. And there’s a floral note, too emanating from the Albariño – white flowers, with just a slight note of lavender too perhaps from the Loueiro and the faintest whiff of Moscatel-esque raisons, probably from the Torrontés in the blend. Greta stuff!


Señorio de Rubios Brut is also made from the base wine Condado Blanco and uses the same varieties therefore. Still dry and elegant this wine has similar aromas of fruit, perhaps with a little more pronounced white peach on the palate too. A lovely wine for celebrations – the fragrance pops out of the bottle as soon as the cork explodes under the pressure and brings a guaranteed smile to all in the vicinity.


Nande Tinto Brut is the odd one out – it’s red sparkling wine! Made with Mencía, Sousón, Espadeiro, Caiño and Pedral it really has the most amazing colour! Opaque with brilliant purple bubbles as it is poured into the glass (unlike white sparkling wine you cannot see the bubbles rising in the glass, so dark is the colour of the deep red wine) the wine has the aroma of a traditional red. And the flavour too – it’s red wine, dark forest fruit, some damson and a touch of bay leaf herb too.


Then of course it has the added profile of bubbles, not as fine as those in the whites, and therefore more noticeable as it hits the mouth.


Also like a red wine there is a quite long finish and I have to say an element of surprise as you reach for the next glass, just to see if your senses were correct with their first report!


It’s the only red sparkling wine made in DO Rías Baixas, and perhaps in the whole of Spain – though I’m not certain of this. I’ve tasted one Spanish red sparkler, some time ago, made with Monastrell but now not available as production was not continued.


It’s a style that is available more in the New World, in California, Australia and New Zealand where Shiraz is often used but where the white variety, Viognier, is sometimes used in the blend. So will it start to catch on here in Spain?


Well, why not try Bodegas Coto-Redondo’s Nande Tinto Brut, from the enterprising, and as we’ve seen, extremely fortunate, DO Rías Baixas?


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