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Can you believe that I have never ever written a review on alcohol? (Unless you count the embarrassing drunken incidents I posted in ciao cafe years ago, which technically wasn't a very positive review of alcohol in general!) It seems weird considering how attached I am to the old vino.
My favourite tipple has recently switched from rose wine to sparkling whites, and I go through rather a lot of the stuff. I tend to buy cheaply (I don't see the point in expensive champagne brands, classy person that I am - I'd rather have four bottles of the cheap stuff than one bottle of Moet) but if I am pushing the boat out, I'll go for the M&S stuff. (M&S spells "posh" to me.) It isn't cheap though, retailing at just under ten quid.
However, I was given a promotion in work a week ago and on Friday one of my favourite colleagues brought me in a present . . . of a bottle of Prestige Cava from M & S! Yay! It has already travelled around a bit since then, being carried to the pub, then to a colleague's flat, then to ANOTHER colleague's flat and finally home by me yesterday afternoon. Where I promptly rewarded myself by drinking it!
A quick word about what actually constitutes cava - in much the same way as a sparkling wine can technically only be called champagne these days if it is from the Champagne region of France, cava is sparkling wine which primarily originates in the Catalonia region of Spain. Personally I can't be bothered with all this pedantic crap (it's like political correctness for wine) so I think from now on I will just refer to ANY sparkling wine as "fizzy wine". Once again, that's not particularly classy of me, but its easier than making a sparkling wine faux pas.
I have of course double-checked my (now empty) bottle to see where the wine was produced, just to ensure it falls within the specific "cava" guidelines. It is from Torrelavit which is indeed in the Catalonia region. Check. AND it's produced from the macabeo and parellada grapes. Yep, it ticks all the boxes - Marks and Spencers won't be getting into trouble with the European Union pedants anytime soon.
So getting down to the nitty-gritty - do I think this particular fizzy wine is worth the money? To me, it definitely stands head and shoulders above my usual slightly cheaper sparkling wines. Generally my price limit on fizz is six quid, seven if I'm really pushing it. But that slight different in price does definitely mark a distinct drop in quality, even by my plebian "I'll drink anything" standards.
The bottle itself doesn't look much different from your standard bottle of cava - the burgundy label looks slightly posher though, making it look more prestigious, in fitting with the bottle's name. It definitely makes a slightly classier looking present than its cheaper counterparts!
Its easy to open (although I did have an altercation with a bottle of the pink version a few weeks ago where the wine exploded out on opening and I lost a glass worth - not a mistake I want to repeat!) - just do it carefully and try not to shake it too much.
The first thing you notice upon opening is the smell - the fruitiness of the grapes is more overpowering than any tang of alcohol - always a good thing! Since it contains green apple and pear flavours, this is not surprising. I do feel like i can taste the apple more than the pears, and I love that about this wine. Which is strange as I'm not a big fan of green apples!
Brut cava can occasionally be a little bit TOO dry in the sense that my first couple of mouthfuls have my tastebuds physically recoiling but this mix is just right - it's very crisp and goes down very smoothly. I could drink shedloads of this particular wine quite happily - if someone was willing to buy loads of it for me!
Does it get you drunk? I'm sure it could if you were drinking it alone, and I know a lot of people find bubbles go right to their head. Its alcohol content is 12% so I guess it could be considered fairly potent - it certainly doesn't taste particularly alcoholic in comparison to a lot of other wines or alcohol, so I suppose this could potentially be a devastating combination in terms of drunkenness if you are a lightweight . . . I suppose this is the point where I'll recommend you should always drink responsibly. I'm a fine one to talk, but let's ignore the hypocrisy in this case!
If you are looking for a nice alternative to expensive champagne brands, then I think this M & S cava is a nice compromise. Whether it is for celebrating, for a present for someone else, or just when you've had a crappy day and feel like treating yourself to something a little bit special, I would definitely recommend you give this one a go.
(And, for the record, the rose version is also very nice too!)