2001 Brut Nature Gran Reserva (42% macabeo, 28% xarel-lo, 30% parellada; old vines grown in Penedès; disgorged August 2005) $27: Pale green-straw hue; very lively bead. Pretty nose of orange citrus and yeast aromas with hints of apricot and lychee. Very clean, full flavored, fruity, stylish, elegant and dry, but not austere; well-rounded and delicious with light honeysuckle, apricot, citrus, yeast and spice flavors. Score: 90
2002 Brut Reserva (46% macabeo, 26% xarel-lo, 28% parellada all from old vines grown in Penedès; disgorged September, 2005) $20: Gold-straw hue; fine, profuse bead. Needs more time in bottle to develop bouquet, for now it is light, clean and yeasty. Very dry, crisp, elegant and yeasty; nice mouth-feel with a citric finish that should develop complexity with more post-disgorgement bottle age. Score: 88
2003 Brut Rosat Trepat $23: Strawberry-salmon color. Light, fresh nose of orange peel and yeast. Rich, gutsy, lovely mouthful of delicious red fruit with hints of orange peel. Very well-integrated acid, yeast, fruit and alcohol. Score: 90
Can Feixes Huguet
An Alt Penedès family wine business that dates to 1768.
2002 Brut Nature Gran Reserva (60% parellada, 25% pinot noir, 10% macabeo, 5% chardonnay; blends vary with vintage; aged a minimum of 30 months) $25: Pale straw hue; very active, medium bead. Notes of yeast, apricot and lychee in the nose. Very clean, citrusy and very dry, but not teeth-jarring; balanced and fruity with hints of apricot and citrus peel flavors; spicy, yeasty finish. Score: 88
Castillo de Perelada
Founder Miguel Mateu bought the castle estate in 1914 and discovered a 14th century cellar where wine was once made. He couldn't resist making it there again, and today turns out highly regarded still wines from Empordà-Costa Brava and Cava from Sant Sadurní D'Anoia. The Castillo de Perelada is now a museum and high-class casino, too.
NV Brut Reserva (40% macabeo, 30% xarel-lo, 30% parellada) $10: Gold-tinged straw hue; very active bead. Lightly floral nose of citrus and yeast. Very lively and frothy in the mouth, perhaps excessively so, with clean, dry, floral, honeysuckle and lemon flavors. Score: 87
2001 Cuvée Especial Brut Nature (40% macabeo, 30% xarel-lo, 20% parellada, 10% chardonnay) $15: Bright green-straw hue. Citrus, yeast, lychee, light peach and honeysuckle in the nose. Dry, refreshing, full-bodied flavors of white peach, citrus and yeast with a long, pleasant finish. Score: 88
NV Brut Rosado (45% monastrell, 30% garnacha, 25% trepat) $13: Dark strawberry-cherry hue; very active, fine bead. Fresh, yeasty, pie cherry, clove and cinnamon nose. Concentrated, delicious pie cherry and strawberry flavors; dry and well made. Score: 88
Founded in 1887 by a family that traces its wine heritage to a 17th-century English immigrant, Joseph Hill, who settled in Penedès.
2001 Brut Brutisimo Gran Reserva Añada (35% macabeo, 30% xarel-lo, 25% parellada, 10% chardonnay) $25: Pale straw hue; fine, active bead. Fresh citrus and vanilla nose. Very lively and palate cleansing with generous nutty, yeasty flavors; long, spicy, lemony finish. Score: 88
NV Brut Rosado (60% garnacha, 40% monastrell; aged 18 months) $15: Very dark strawberry-cherry red hue; fine bead. Yeast and light red fruit nose. Pleasant, gutsy mouthful of strawberry-cherry fruit, very much like a light red wine. Score: 87
Once the largest producer of sparkling wine in the world, Codorníu is now focusing on quality at reasonable prices.
NV Original 1872 (40% macabeo, 30% parellada, 20% xarel-lo, 10% chardonnay) $9: Light straw-gold hue; active, medium bead; nice mousse. Fruity, yeasty, lychee nut and coconut aromas and flavors; clean, medium body; long, spicy finish. Score: 87
NV Cuvée Raventós Brut (50% chardonnay, 25% macabeo, 25% xarel-lo) $12: Gold straw hue; fine, active bead. Cinnamon, clove and classic Champagne-like toast and yeast aromas on the nose. Nice, rich mouthful with flavors of spice, clove, yeast and toast; long, spicy finish. Score: 88
NV Brut Pinot Noir $14: Salmon-strawberry hue; long, fine bead. Pretty, fruity, yeasty, strawberry and raspberry nose. Rich, deep raspberry, strawberry and yeasty flavors; long, dry finish. Score: 89
Enric Nadal (Finca Nadal de la Boadella)
A winegrowing estate established in 1510, Nadal has been producing Cava since 1943.
NV Brut Rosat Pinot Noir $15: Medium strawberry-salmon color; medium bead, not overtly active. Fresh, clean and dry with obvious strawberry fruit flavors. Score: 86
Founded in 1889, Cataluña's mega-house is the largest méthode champenoise wine producer in the world.
2000 Brut Nature (40% macabeo, 30% parellada, 30% xarel-lo) $14: Pale green-straw hue. Apple, citrus, yeasty nose. Bone dry and palate cleansing, elegant, light apple and citrus flavors with a spicy finish. Score: 87
The family wine roots, on both the Gramona and Batlle sides, go back to the 19th century. A light dosage, made from a family solera liqueur established in the early 1900s, is employed here.
1997 Celler Batlle Vintage (70% xarelo-lo, 30% macabeo; aged 6-8 years) $80: Green-gold hue; fine, active bead. Clean, fruity nose with yeast and toast. Beautifully made, delicious, richly flavored, yet elegant, lovely, well-aged Cava with superb balance and a long, clean finish. Score: 92
2001 Brut Imperial Gran Reserva (40% xarelo-lo, 40% macabeo, 20% chardonnay) $25: Pale green-straw hue; fine, slow, steady bead. Big, characterful, rich nose of yeast, butter, flowers and lemons. Very frothy and juicy with lots of delicious flavors: orange, citrus, butter, nut and apricot. Beautiful balance of age and character. Score: 92
2002 Gran Cuvée (equal parts xarel-lo, macabeo, parellada) $18: Deep gold-straw hue; very lively, fine bead. Big, pretty floral, fruity, yeasty nose. A gutsy, creamy, full-blown Cava with fruity melon, peach, apricot and honeysuckle flavors; stylish, very lively on the palate and balanced by a dry finish. Loads of character. Score: 90
NV Rosé (pinot noir; aged two years) $35: Markedly deep strawberry-cherry hue; very fine, steady-release bead. Toasty red berry and clove nose. Light effervescence, like a light red wine with pétillance. A delicious, unique, fun wine. Score: 90
Josep Raventós i Blanc
Estate fruit is grown on nearly 300 acres of vineyards planted on mostly caliza (chalky) soil similar to Champagne's. Its founder, Josep-Maria Raventós, observes, We can make brut nature sparkling wines easier than they can in Champagne, where there are far fewer hours of sun. And because of our climate, Cavas achieve a better balance of alcohol and acidity, [too].
NV Brut (60% macabeo, 20% parellada, 20% xarel-lo) $15: Pale green-straw hue; fine, active bead. Light honeysuckle, citrus and apricot in the nose. Elegant, fruity flavors and a long, palate-cleansing, citrusy finish. Absolutely delicious. Score: 90
1999 Gran Reserva Brut Nature (40% xarel-lo, 35% macabeo, 20% parellada, 5% chardonnay; three years on the lees) $25: Deep gold-straw hue; fine bead, medium activity. Very nice yeasty nose, light clove, honeysuckle, lychee and pineapple aromas. Rich, gutsy mouthful of delicious, beautifully made wine. One of Spain's top Cavas. Score: 93
2000 Gran Reserva Brut Nature (40% xarel-lo, 35% macabeo, 20% parellada, 5% chardonnay; three years on the lees) $25: Green-gold straw hue; fine, slow bead. Clean, fresh nose of lime and pineapple. Dry yet lively with rich flavors of toast, yeast, citrus and light honeysuckle. Long, lovely, elegant finish. An absolutely outstanding Cava. Score: 92
Juvé y Camps
Approaching its 85th anniversary, and still trading on its artisanal image, this family-run winery makes superb Cavas, such as the Brut Natural Reserva De La Familia that employs only free-run juice from carefully selected grapes picked on three estates near San Sadurní d'Anoia. >
2000 Gran Juvé y Camps (40% macabeo, 40% parellada, 20% xarel-lo; aged 42 months; made only in exceptional vintages) $36: Deep gold-straw hue; more diffuse, less lively bubbles. Big yeasty nose. Full of character with big, rich, toasty flavors and a long, complex finish. A first-rate wine that mirrors a very good, old Champagne. Score: 92
2001 Brut Natural Reserva de la Familia (40% macabeo, 40% parellada, 20% xarel-lo; three years on the lees) $20: Deep gold-straw hue; fine, active bead. Yeasty nose with light peach aromas. Delicious yeasty, subtle peach-apricot and honeysuckle undertones and a long, clean, dry, palate-refreshing finish. Score: 90
NV Brut Rosé Pinot Noir $20: Salmon-pink hue; fine, active bead. Strawberry, cherry, light yeast and citrus in the nose. Dry entry, lively on the palate with delicious red fruit flavors and a long, dry finish. Score: 89