Tasting Notes: Rondel Platinum Cava

Sparkling wine has far and above become my favorite wine to drink, and while I wish I could afford delicious Champagne on a regular basis, it is always important to scope out value options. This is where Cava comes in! It is made in the same manner as Champagne, is still delicious in its own right, and comes with a lower price tag. Rondel may sounds familiar to you since I have used Rondel Brut in its identifiable blue bottle many times in the past, mainly for sparkling cocktails. It is inexpensive, flavorful, and comes in the handy split bottles. However, when I came across the Rondel Platinum, their elevated version, I thought I'd give a whirl to see if it could make the cut for New Year's Eve!

Rondel Platinum Cava

The Facts

  • Producer: Rondel
  • Region: Pendes, Spain
  • Vintage: NV
  • Variety: 40% Macabeu, 40% Xarello, 20% Parellada
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $12.99

This Cava is a deeper straw yellow color and has finer bubbles. While the bottle's description boasts citrus and tropical fruits, I definitely picked up on more of a tart apple aroma. There was also some toast or bready smell, which comes from the yeast that is used to ferment in bottle. The same flavors come across on the palate, with an addition of a zing of lemon. While this Cava is definitely acidic, it is more well-balanced than the Rondel Brut and is extremely easy to drink. As my mother stated, "It is very smooth!" There is nothing complex about this Cava and don't expect it to hold up against Champagne, but at the price point, it is a good choice for an everyday or even a NYE sipper. 

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Tasting Notes: Valserrano Rioja Crianza

It has been a BUSY last couple of weeks for Kevin and me. We celebrated Thanksgiving across the pond in London, and then last weekend, I got to visit my best friend in New York City! I've been on the go, and it doesn't look like the holiday time will slow down for me much, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy some good wine, right? This week, I decided to get back to the 2017 Total Wine Top 20 list with this red from Rioja.

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The Facts

  • Producer: Valserrano
  • Region: Rioja, Spain
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Variety: 90% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $16.99

For those not familiar with Spanish wines, particularly those from Rioja, the region's star grapes is Tempranillo and the region has a board that controls the quality of wine. This is similar to France and Italy. You can read Wine Folly's more detailed post here, but I'll summarize some key facts. There are four levels of Rioja, starting from base to top quality: Rioja, Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva. Each level has longer aging requirements in both barrel and bottle, and each level gets more expensive. So, for a wine in the Crianza level, the Rioja board requires 1 year of aging in barrel (usually used oak) and 1 year in bottle. Why does that matter? The flavors that come from oak won't be as strong on a Crianza, and the wine will be more affordable than those with longer oak aging.

I'd say that sets up this wine pretty well. The bottle stated that it was cask aged over 16 months, and I bought the 2013 vintage, so it's been in the bottle for a couple of years. Overall, the wine smelled very nice -- like dark red fruit, pepper, and some smoke or earthiness. This all translated to the palate, too. It's very fruit-forward with black cherry and maybe even some blackberry with a hint of spice. The wine was not very tannic, which surprised me for Tempranillo, but the acid makes it very food friendly. We paired it with this wild rice casserole by Budget Bytes, and I thought the flavors went well together. I think it could stand to "open up a bit" because the flavors developed over time. So, if you can remember to do this, open the bottle about an hour in advance, or even better, decant it! Great flavor, good price point, and overall, a nice wine to have with dinner. 

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Tasting Notes: Juvé y Camps Brut Rosé

For as much as I love sparkling wine, there are surprisingly few reviews on sparkling wines. When I came across this sale at Whole Foods, I couldn't pass a bottle up! I first tried the Juvé y Camps brand at Corkbuzz a while back and thoroughly enjoyed it. But this was their rosé, which is even more up my alley! 

The Facts

  • Producer: Juvé y Camps
  • Region: Penedès, Spain (near Barcelona)
  • Vintage: Non-vintage
  • Variety: Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Whole Foods
  • Price: $14.99, on sale

Eyes: This wine is so pretty. Is that weird to say? It's such a lovely deep salmon, almost cherry red color. And I think the bottle is awesome. The label looks classy and fancy... like it's expensive, but it's not!

Nose: The Cava smelled of bright red fruit, like strawberry and cherry. There was a hint of biscuit or toast, which is typical of Cava because it's made in the same method as Champagne, but I would say that it was more fruit forward than toasty. 

Mouth: Tasty! This is a wine that "what you see is what you get", meaning that it tastes fruit forward and refreshing. The strawberry that's on the nose really comes through when you drink it, and I personally don't get a lot of the toast flavor when drinking it. It's very acidic, but has more depth in flavor than a non-rosé Cava. 

Thoughts: I think this is a crowd-pleaser and a good value. Is there great complexity here? No, but for $15, I think it's pretty awesome. I think it's a great bottle to take over to a friend's house or to a celebration if you're not looking to bust out an expensive Champagne. This will likely be my go-to now when I want to pop a bottle at home!

Story: I actually really like the story behind Juvé y Camps. It's a family owned winery near Barcelona that was founded in 1921. The history behind the winery actually started 200 years earlier with the founder's grandfather, Joan Juvé Mir, who was a grape grower. He faced many challenges, including phylloxera and the subsequent replanting of his vines. The first wines were made in the cellar under the family home, and the grandson, Joan Juvé Baqués, decided to start an official winery. Now, Juvé y Camps is regularly served at state banquets by Spain's royal family and is offered to guests of the national government, Senate, and Congress. 

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Tasting Notes: Honoro Vera Garnacha

I probably say this at the end of every month, but I can't believe another month is over! How is it almost JUNE?! That just blows my mind. For this "Favorite Friday", I went with one of our favorite values. We had asked for good "every day" choices one time when we were in Total Wine and the girl pointed us toward this Spanish grenache. Since it's part of the series, it's no surprise that we enjoy it, but read on to find out more about its flavor profile!

The Facts

  • Producer: Bodegas ATECA
  • Region: Calatayud, Spain
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Variety: Garnacha (Grenache)
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $7.99
  • Eyes: This wine is a nice garnet color and was "medium clear", so not quite translucent or opaque. The bottle indicates it is 14.5% ABV which shows through the legs of the wine.
     
  • Nose: This wine smells of red berries and jam. Think raspberry compote or cherry pie. There is also a tinge of alcohol which is not surprising given the ABV mentioned above. Beyond the initial aromas, I also picked up on hints of vanilla. This plays in nicely with the fruit aromas. 
     
  • Mouth: The first thing I notice on this wine is the acid. There's a tartness to the first sip, but not in an unpleasant way. There were also notes of cherry and raspberry jam, as mentioned above. I would not say that it has a lot of spice to it like some Grenache I've had, but there's some and the acidity helps give it some oomph. 
     
  • Thoughts: At $8 a bottle, this is a GREAT find! It's got enough pizzazz to appeal to drinkers of the heavier and bolder stuff, but isn't so heavy that it can't appeal to those who like lighter wines too. It's easy to drink and doesn't linger too much, so I think it'd pair nicely with meals. Plus, beyond the random model's face, the bottle has a colorful label (you can't see it all in the photo above) and who doesn't love a nice label?! We like to pick up a bottle or two to have on hand if we want something drinkable and good. I highly recommend you give it a whirl the next time you're at your local Total Wine!

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