The Spanish ‘Institut del Cava’ chose a magnificent venue, in the Freemason’s Hall, Great Queen Street, for their Cava tasting event. The opulent décor in this impressive building is amazing, and should you get the opportunity to attend something there, grab it. It was a little unfortunate that the organisation of the event itself didn’t quite match the standard of the venue. With some 50 different Cava sat in champagne buckets on tables set out in an L shape, with glasses so that attendees could help themselves to the sparkling goodies, it was, as you might imagine rather difficult to get to them without being rather assertive, as some attendees resolutely refused to move more than three inches from the table at any point of the evening.
We did however call on our assertiveness genes, broke through this human barrier and managed to sample some 15 Cava at random during the evening. To write about all of these would be somewhat repetitive, ‘soft bubbles’, ‘harsh bubbles’, ‘length of flavour’, ‘acidity’ and so on, but of those we tasted some stood out for us as wines we would happily look for and buy, these were: Loxarel Gran Reserva 2004, which had an acidic full flavour with good body and a creamy effervescence; Gramona Ill Lustros, which had a chocolaty nutty flavour and nice fizz; Mascaro Brut ‘Nigrum’ that presented orange fruit tones and a floral lightness, with a clean finish; Gramona Imperial Brut, a clean, crisp wine with a good aftertaste; Roger Goulart Brut Rose which had lovely strawberry notes, and a good soft bubbles and finally Cordonui Pinot Noir, that gave blackcurrant and summer fruit notes, with a short effervescence on the tongue.
Supporting the evening, Chef, Alvaro Santiago Caro, from Tikitano restaurant in Estepona had flown over specially to prepare tapas for the assembled throng. This was set up on a separate side table and alas, they appeared in small quantities and barely got a few feet into the room before the wall of humanity that surrounded the table, swallowed them up, quite literally. However, with our assertiveness skills well honed by that time we did manage to sample some of them, and those that we tried were delightful, notably; the sea bass ‘burger’, sandwiched with rounds of light puff pastry; gazpacho shots served with a warm king prawn; layered potato and black pudding cake topped with a very tender medallion of pork tenderloin and lastly, a tangy cheesecake topped with a passion fruit gel.
The event did offer some very pleasant flavours to entertain the palate, the Cava making a good, robust accompaniment with the tapas we tasted. Made using the same processes as Champagne, and in some cases the same grape varieties, it is worth looking in your local supermarket shelves or off licence for some of these Spanish gems, which, for the most part, provide a less expensive alternative to their French cousin. You can find out more about Cave from the Institut’s web site www.institutdelcava.com.