Tasting Highlights bring the best wines from our editors’ most recent tastings to WineSpectator.com members.
While Champagne remains the world’s premier sparkling wine, cava is made using the same production method, although it spends a little bit less time aging before release than its French counterpart. But unlike Champagne, which can cost hundreds of dollars a bottle, most cava is $20 or less, making it one of the most consistently affordable bubblies on the market.
The best cavas pair appealing price tags with lightly creamy texture, a smoky base note and white and citrus fruit flavors. Cava is typically made using indigenous grape varieties such as Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada, although some producers will include Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in blends as well.
While the local grape varieties used in cava can create a distinctive expression of Spanish bubbly when yields are kept low and vines are farmed at proper altitudes, they can just as easily lead to bland versions if the grapes don’t receive proper care. With that in mind, it's best to stick with consistent producers. Here are a handful of go-to versions from wineries with good track records that have showed well in recent tastings.
DOMINIO DE LA VEGA Brut Cava NV Score: 87 | $13
Dry and toasty, with roast hazelnut, white peach, oyster shell and ground ginger notes. Well-balanced and lightly frothy in texture. Drink now. 20,000 cases imported. —A.N.
EL CEP Brut Cava Marques de Gelida Exclusive Gran Reserva 2008 Score: 86 | $16
Balanced, offering good texture and subtle smoke, raw almond, apricot and preserved lemon notes. Drink now. 3,000 cases imported. —A.N.
SEGURA VIUDAS Brut Cava Aria NV Score: 86 | $14
Creamy, with bread dough and toasted almond notes mixing with more subtle flavors of star fruit, green melon and thyme. Drink now. 20,000 cases imported. —A.N.
SEGURA VIUDAS Brut Cava Reserva NV Score: 86 | $10
Fresh and balanced, with a creamy bead supporting apple puree, pastry cream, anise and preserved lemon notes. Drink now. 75,570 cases imported. —A.N.
EL CEP Brut Cava Marques de Gelida Reserva 2009 Score: 85 | $19
A riper style for its baked apple and pear, quince paste and candied orange zest notes, yet still balanced. Zesty acidity leads to a smoke- and wax- tinged finish. Drink now. 1,000 cases made. —A.N.
MARRUGAT Brut Rosado Cava Dibon NV Score: 85 | $16
A creamy and fruit-forward rosé, with pomegranate, macerated cherry, raspberry and strawberry jam notes. The finish is fresh, with a hint of lemon zest. Drink now. 10,000 cases made. —A.N.
SEGURA VIUDAS Brut Rosé Cava NV Score: 85 | $10
A base note of toasted almond mixes with creamy black currant, black licorice and candied lemon zest notes in this lively rosé. Drink now. 3,560 cases imported. —A.N.
VILARNAU Brut Nature Cava Reserva 2009 Score: 85 | $18
A firm yet balanced version, offering fine texture and subtle notes of green pear and crunchy white peach, with a hint of pastry. Drink now. 10,000 cases made. —A.N.