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Tag Archives: Cava

Wine of the week: Dibon Brut Reserve NV

101462How much did this Cava impress me? The bottle had a neck hanger with a Winestream Media blurb, but I bought it anyway.

And why not? The Dibon ($10, purchased, 11.5%) is a sophisticated sparkling wine with layers of flavor that is made more in the style of Champagne than Cava — creamy and caramel-like with candied pineapple in back and not as much tart apple. In this, it's got more winemaking going on than I like, but you can't argue with the results. This is an incredible value for $10.

My guess is that this wine, made by the largish Spanish producer Bodegas Pinord, is a one-off – made because there were so many quality grapes available, thanks to the euro crisis and the collapse of the Spanish economy and its 25 percent unemployment rate. Cava sales in Spain were down six percent in 2012, so it makes sense that some producers would re-label bottles or make wines especially for the export market. The Dibon is not listed on the Pinord website, and even Robert Parker had not heard of it when he reviewed it.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame. Drink this chilled on its own or with Sunday brunch or something like a crabcake appetizer.

Mini-reviews 45: Penfolds, Caldora, Brancaia, Paul Cheneau

Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month:

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet 2010 ($12, sample): Perfectly acceptable grocery store red blend from Australia — simple and fruity, but not flawed or offensive.

Caldora Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2011 ($9, purchased): Ordinary Italian red with just a hint of Italian-ness and neither especially funky or fresh. More New World in style than anything else.

Brancaia Tre Toscana 2010 ($23, sample): Italian red with lots of sweet red fruit and a bit of tannin and acid, but not especially Tuscan in any way

Paul Cheneau Cava Blanc de Blancs Reserva NV ($10, sample): Very ordinary cava, which would not be a bad thing except that so much cava is so extraordinary. Much better available at this price.

So long, Champagne, it’s been good to know you

The wine business continues to do things no one expects, and the latest Champagne sales numbers are a striking indication of what’s going’s on.

This French wine service story is stunning in its conclusions: “Champagne was dominant 10 to 15 years ago, but the world has changed.”

The story, though written for the European market, is well worth reading because it documents the trend we’re been talking about here for several years (and not just because I’m trying to put together The Cheap Wine Book). Today, when consumers have a choice between two quality products, they’re more likely than ever to buy on price. Champagne exports declined 2.8 percent last year, while non-Champagne sparkling wine accounts for 70 percent of the European market.

In other words, we’re buying more cava and prosecco and so are the Europeans — and that it’s not Champagne doesn’t seem to bother us.This is shocking news, and especially for the Europeans. Their market never, ever worked that way.

This also demonstrates the continuing evolution of the wine market into two tiers – everyday wine drinkers, who are mostly ignored by the Winestream Media, and a much smaller, score-driven minority that still buys wine the old-fashioned way and is doted on by most of the wine world.

And how cheap are these wines? Cava costs €8 (US$11) or less in most European retailers, while prosecco ranges from €5 to €15 (about US$7-$20). Those of you who buy either in the States will note that’s pretty much what we pay for it. Call it the pricing power of the biggest multi-national wine companies (cava giant Freixenet’s annual production is about two-thirds of the entire Champagne region), and they’re more than willing to trade margin for market share – another theme we’ve discussed in detail here.

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