03 Marques de Gelida, Brut Exclusive Reserva
This was going to be a review about how cava this old shouldn't still be on the shelves. I was looking forward to it--a fun and rare opportunity to justifiably lambast a megamart or distributor for still collecting dime on such a tired wine. You wouldn't sell months-old lettuce, would you--even if it were hidden in a pretty yellow bottle? That was my line. Then I remembered the 2001, which I drank for the better half of last year. And I remembered that this isn't normal cava. A single taste will tell you that. The eponymous regions and subregions that grow these grapes throughout Spain often leave them insipid. Afterall, if "Cava" is more a brand than a terroir, you can do just about whatever you want. Gelida takes the odd (and welcomed) step of barrel aging its wine--longer than most cava would stay fresh in the bottle--which breaks the monotony of cheap froth by lending smoky notes on the nose and some sharp spunk on the finish. I taste loads of green apple skins along with honeydew and orange rind. On open, though, this wine (2001 included) is overcarbonated, giving each glass a back-alley taste of steel. Once that blows off (who would ever think to decant a sparkling wine?!), it creams out and fills each fruity sip with bits of vanilla and a toasty, French chardonnay-like aroma. To even be able to talk about a cava this long says something about the maker. And the sad truth to me is that Champagne--at whose altar of glory and righteousness I bow--finally has some fucking competition.