There is something unique to Catalonia, something
delicious. It is the calçot and the tradition of a calçot
lunch to go with it!
A calçot (left) is member of the onion family, and resembles a cross between a green onion and a leek. It’s a uniquely Catalan beast, and are
mild and sweet.
Every Spring, the Catalan celebrate with the tradition of the calçotada – much like the American tradition of the summer BBQ, where c
alçots are grilled over an open flame (in our case over vine cuttings, yum!). The
result is a charbroiled onion, but a sweet delicious delicacy underneath.
How does one eat a calçot? Once they are grilled, you strip them of course! After barbecuing,
It’s a delicate operation, as you grip the bottom of the calçot, and tug gently so the skin pulls off in one long piece. Then, as Toni is demonstrating, you eat the calçotada in several bites – but in one fell swoop. Delicious! a romesco sauce is served, and you strip off the charbroiled layer in a magical feat of action.
They can get a little messy however, so as
Toni shows us, it helps to have a bib. Or a cape. After a full plate of calçot, and several glasses of cava, Toni became…Super Calcot! The Catalon superhero!
Calçots are particularly delicious with brut cava, as the crisp acidity matches perfectly with the sweet greens and the tangy romesco sauce.
Now, go out and make some calçots today! when you can’t find the real thing, baby leeks, baby green onions or red onions can be substituted. Broil or grill them until tender. Enjoy with a glass of cava!
While Cava is Spain’s sparkling wine, it is also the national beverage. It’s a drink for the people, and isn’t reserved for special occasions. Cava can be seen every day, in bars, in restaurants, in hotel lobbies, and on the dining room table. The high value proposition makes this an ideal beverage for any occasion.
So, let’s review:
Cava is Spain’s version of sparkling wine, traditionally made from indigenous white varieties – Xarel·lo, Macabeo and Parellada. Most Cava is made in Catalonia, a region at the north east tip of Spain. Cava must also be made in the méthode champenoise, whereas sparkling wine made in other (shall we say, less than desirable in my opinion) methods may only be called vinos espumosos (sparkling wines).
Historical records show that some form of sparkling wine has been made in the Catalonia region of Spain since the 14th century; it wasn’t until the late 19th century however, that serious efforts were made to compete with France for a sparkling wine with a similar profile to Champagne.
In the US, probably the most recognizable brand of Cava is Frexinet’s Cordon Negro, in the signature black bottle. This budget bubbly gets a bad rap, and while I was one of the guilty poking fun, it’s a great, fun, simple Cava to serve at parties or in mimosas. At a recent twitter tasting I participated in, I was pleasantly surprised that my memory of a product similar to Cook’s was completely wrong and the Cordon Negro is really a perfectly fine sparkling wine.
Any way you put it, the value proposition for Cava is excellent. With most bottles hovering around $8 and many more up to $20, there are some great examples at any price point but it’s a great wine to enjoy anytime. While there are certainly more expensive cavas out there, you can easily find a great example for under $20, which is very affordable in my book.
My hosts at Segura Viudas focus on making cava of distinction, in the traditional method. While you are allowed a certian amount of other grapes, head winemaker Gabriel Suberviola focuses on the local grapes to create special cavas that really exemplify the region. While they are a large operation by American standards, the team at Segura Viudas is careful to maintain the quality of the fruit by hand harvesting the grapes, and evaluating each load carefully. The grapes are then graded, and sorted in to what wine they will become. You could make the argument that you can just throw everything in the hopper and see what comes out, but they won’t settle for that. Less quality grapes go in to the every day wines; not lesser quality wines by any means, but these are your $10 every day cavas, vs the iconic Reserva Heredad ($25). Gabriel and his team can tell on site, and through a detailed process with 17 data points, what wines each small bin is destined to become.
Up next, we blend our our base wine! This could get interesting…so, pop a bottle, clink your glasses to life, and enjoy cava!