Codorniu, Selección Raventos NV Cava


From €6.99, 9 Swiss francs, $10.99, Ca$13.95, £7.95, 99 Swedish krone, etc

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This is a funny one. Although I am delightedly aware of some exceptional super-cuvées, I have to admit I am not the world's greatest fan of Cava. Too often I find it too frothy and uncomfortable to enjoy. But my truly superlative general practitioner doctor (he answers and sends emails before 8 am!!!) asked me to recommend a sparkling wine he could serve to friends at a party for under £10 a bottle. This is quite a challenge, as anyone familiar with bargain fizz in the UK will know.


As his request coincided with the peak summer season for tasting the wares of various UK mass-market retailers, I was able to address myself to the task with dedication and was giving up hope. But, fortunately, Codorniu, Selección Raventos NV Cava came to the rescue. I tried it out on a wide range of friends and family last weekend along with other, similar bottlings and they backed me up in my judgement that this is drier, more refreshing and less aggressively earthy than many of its rivals. I suspect part of its universal appeal is down to Codorniu's decision many years ago to incorporate Chardonnay in the blend with the local Xarello and Maccabeo. (Sorry, I know this is akin to heresy from a co-author of Wine Grapes.)

It also has the huge advantage of not costing too much. It is currently on special offer at Majestic in the UK at £7.99 a bottle if two bottles are bought, rather than the usual £9.99. (You have to buy at least six mixed bottles at Majestic.) It is widely distributed – see the prices above, which represent only a small proportion of the countries in which it is available. They include Estonia, Finland, Russia, Brazil, Chile, Iceland and Norway. Bravo, Codorniu's Scandinavian salesperson!

The only disadvantage is that it comes in the special broad-based Codorniu bottle, which is not easy to bin, stack or fit into a fridge door.

There are certainly many more subtle and long-lasting Cavas but as a reliable, dry, traditional-method fizz to serve your friends (without a supermarket name on the label), this one is hard to beat.

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