90+ Cellars Brut Prosecco ($10.99)
From the distributor:
"Aromas of fresh peaches leap from the glass along with hints of ginger and lilac. Once sipped, a shower of foamy bubbles dances soulfully on the tip of your tongue and then bursts into a medley of crisp citrus fruit."
Prosecco has a bigger bubble than Champagne method wines; that characteristic and its base grape, glera, give it a fresh flavor that makes it enjoyable on its own or in a cocktail, such as a Mimosa. This Prosecco, although a brut, has a nice fruitiness to it, and it is an eminently drinkable sparkling wine.
Naveran Brut Nature Vintage Cava 2014 ($15.99)
From the importer:
"Naveran Brut Nature is an estate-bottled vintage Cava that sells for a song! Proprietor Michel Guilleron Parellada's goal with this Cava is to show the purity, youth and bright flavor characters of this special place. Xarello and Chardonnay contributes body, Macabeo gives aromatic intensity and Parellada lends acidity to the wine. The Naveran family legacy began in 1901. Today the Estate has 110 hectares (272 acres) of vines in the town of Torrelavit located in the Alt (high) Penedés subregion. Despite the fact that Cava is Spain's largest volume of wine exported to the U.S., Cavas are made utilizing the same methods used in Champagne and have remained Spain's best-kept secret for quality and value in wine. Caves Naveran is a premium Cava producer that uses estate-grown grapes. Naveran Brut Nature is a grower Cava that spends 18 months on its lees after fermentation in the bottle to achieve greater depth, complexity and the fine, delicate and long lasting bubbles, called mousse by the French, and are an indication of a sparking wine's quality.
This wine is the least expensive vintage bubbly on the planet (taste it blind against a $40 non-vintage “big brand” Champagne). Made by the Naveran family since 1901. This bodega has a great tradition of crafting Cavas that are superb expressions of clean, bright, citrus-inflected aromas and flavors with the all-important tiny bubbles.
Cavas are very versatile as an apéritif before the meal, to accompany dessert afterwards and (surprise!) to enjoy during the meal. This Naveran Brut Nature will pair with soft cheeses, fresh fruit, white meats (pork and chicken) and even richly flavored red meats. This Cava is great for sipping on its own, especially for receptions and other “standing up” events.
The totally dry, no dosage, Brut Nature reveals hints of oranges, tangerines and honeyed citrus, well-defined, small bubbles and an austere, dry, chalky mouthfeel."
Cava has not yet enjoyed the exposure that Champagne or Prosecco have, and as such is a real hidden gem in the sparkling wine world. I tend to prefer Cava over the others, mostly because I enjoy the fresher taste combined with a smaller bubble. This particular one is very well crafted and elegant.
René-Marie Catel Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne ($30.99)
From the distributor:
"Coming from families who have been growing grapes in Champagne since 1710, René and Marie-Noëlle DAUTEL started producing their own champagne in 1971. Sylvain Dautel, their son, is now in charge of the vineyard located in Loches-Sur-Ource, a small village in the heart of Côte des Bars. Sylvain is perpetuating the tradition of his ancestors, using environmental friendly practices to create the most delicate, yet intense Champagnes. Cuvée René-Marie Catel is a rare Brut, Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Noir), aged for two years in small oak barrels.
Radiant nose, revealing white-fleshed fruits (apple, pear, peach white), citrus (lemon) and floral nuances. Ample in the mouth, combining generosity and subtlety. Full, fresh and crisp."
When it comes to Champagne, I tend to like those that have a fresher flavor with less of the brioche note that many wines show. This one is light and refreshing, but with a good body and a complexity of flavors. It's a great value for money.