Cava has started to make some encouraging noises of late, ever since Prosecco stole its crown of ‘alternative fizz to Champagne’. But Codorníu has never dipped out of the spotlight. This winery is Spain’s oldest family-owned business and has been producing a range of cuvées such as the Ana Blanc de Blancs and the Codorníu Ars Collecta Blanc de Noirs which can stand toe-to-toe with the world’s best sparklers. Ex-Michelin star chef and fizz expert Roger Jones went to Hispanic to taste through the Codorníu range and came back positively beaming.
“These Codorníu’s had that precision and crispness to them making them moreish and a great value festive drink,” writes Jones.
Last Monday the invite was to Hispania, based in the old Lloyds Bank building in Lombard Street in the City. The invitation was a festive celebration with five Sparkling Cavas from the historic Cava Codorníu estate, which was established in 1551 making it the oldest family-owned business in Spain and the first vineyard to produce Cava. Josep Raventos redirected the family business, becoming a Cava pioneer back in 1872, when he produced the first ever bottles of sparkling wine using the ‘Traditional Method’, using native Penedès varieties Xarel.lo, Macebeo and Parellada.
As we drank through the five Cavas being showcased with traditional Spanish tapas it was highlighted that the Chardonnay grape joined some of the blends whilst the final Cava we tasted, the Codorníu Ars Collecta Blanc de Noirs Gran Reserva, was dominated by Pinot Noir. It was also pleasing to know that we could now eat hot food at this historic venue, as it did originally have a few issues with planning permission for heat extractors when first established as a premium Spanish restaurant and bar.
We were asked to arrive on time as there was going to be a special musical event… having left the 18/30 Marbella group some years ago I certainly was not looking forward to some Flamenco dancing, but what we witnessed was an incredible solo by British jazz singer Natalie Rushdie, (daughter-in-law of Salman Rushdie) performing some spine-tingling songs, and to think that some six months ago she was fighting for her life with Covid.
“Cava offers exceptional value and quality”. A simple statement but where nothing seems to be an open playing field nowadays it is important for us to get this message out.
So how were the cavas tasting?
Codorníu Non Vintage Brut
Wow at £9 retail this offers an excellent fizz, made from Xarel.lo, Macebeo and Parellada, and aged for nine months, fresh apples, youthful, clean and precise
Anna de Codorníu Brut, Waitrose
This was the first of their Cavas to have a small proportion of Chardonnay added to the traditional Xarel.lo, Macebeo and Parellada grapes, aged for nine months and one of their best selling wines. More rounded than the previous wine with a clean focus, the Chardonnay grapes are sourced from warmer inland vineyards giving it more texture, depth and that stone fruit elegance.
Codorníu Brut Reserva, Limited Edition
Xarel.lo, Macebeo and Parellada, with a small amount of Chardonnay, but with 15 months in oak, developing some elegance and depth but still has that freshness and clean palate, drier fruit and evolves well with tapas. There is a lovely gentle bitterness to this sparkling, with an opulent nose.
Anna Blanc de Blancs Reserva, Codorníu
Aged for 15 months and an increased percentage of Chardonnay compared to the Anna Brut, red apples and spices, still has that focus on clean, crisp, freshness, some nectarines and white peaches arrive on the mid-palate, again lifted by the food.
Codorníu Ars Collecta Blanc de Noirs Gran Reserva
Wow now we are talking, aged for over 30 months and certainly worth leaning at the bar to enjoy this Pinot Noir-dominant sparkling, lovely texture and you would be forgiven to think that this is a classy Champagne. This has texture, peeled yellow fruit, fruity and floral aromatics, then a layered complexity, a lovely custard creamy flavour with a delicate smokey spice. Fabulous just be careful how you pronounce the Ars. Majority of the grapes are Pinot Noir, made up with Trepat and Xarel.lo. A bargain, I have seen this at £19 online.
A really lovely way to start the Festive Season, and see the variations of Codorníu, and to see with a moderate price how the quality excels. It was certainly interesting to how well these Sparkling wines went with food, everything from tuna tartare to classic Spanish tapas, but it’s important to be aware that cava goes well with all kinds of food, and these Codorniu’s had that precision and crispness to them making them moreish and a great value festive drink.