In Penedes, Spain, they drink Cava, their version of sparkling wine, every day. As one of the Mata family told me, “Every meal starts with Cava. And every meal ends with Cava. If you go to your neighbor’s to borrow sugar, they offer you Cava.”
At a recent dinner in the kitchen of the family’s wine museum and reception house, Agusti Mata poured a range of his Cavas, which are widely available in Manhattan.
The dinner began with a 2008 Agusti Torello Mata Brut Reserva, which was refreshing with fideuá, a Catalonian dish of toasted pasta, cuttlefish and squid served with dollops of thick and garlicky aioli sauce.
Cava is traditionally a blend of three indigenous grapes: Macabeo, Xarello, and Parellada. But to Agusti, Macabeo, the grape that provides bright fruit flavors, is the soul of Cava and the most important grape in his blends.
The second wine he poured was his Brut Nature Gran Reserva. While many Champagnes and other sparkling wines have some sugar added as part of the fermentation process, the Brut Nature has none. This was a refreshing wine with good structure, nutty notes, and an elegant lightness.
We moved on to serious stuff: his Gran Reserva Barrica. Agusti makes this wine with 100% Macabeo. Forty percent of this wine is fermented and aged in new French oak barrels. This unusual choice produced a Cava of uncharacteristic richness, with a fuller body. We drank it with the Bacalau, perfectedly cooked and served with a lemon sauce. But this wine could have stood up to heavier fare and richer sauces, too.
We were offered larger tulip glasses for the next wine, Kripta. This is a vintage Cava, produced in limited quantities from some of the oldest vines in Penedes. The packaging is unforgettable, an amphora shaped glass bottle that you cannot out down – a wine you must drink with friends and finish in the first round of pouring. Kripta is aged for three years before it’s released. We had the 2006. When I first tasted it, I thought the wine was good. But this is a wine that truly evolves in the glass. After 15 minutes, the wine had opened up to reveal layers of flavor.
Dinner with Agusti was an unforgettable experience of Catalan food and their signature drink, Cava. But what I learned that night is that Cavas come in a range of styles, from simple to sophisticated. But no matter what the style or price point, Agusti Mata is making some of the world’s best.
The Agusti Torello Mata winery is open for visitors and is a beautiful winery to tour. The courtyard has a spectacular fountain created with a conical shaped structure of Kripta bottles. For information about visiting Agusti Torello Mata winery, please visit the Barcelona information page, or the winery website. Or email email@example.com.