Wine of the Week: Freixenet Casa Sala

Much has been written about comparisons between French Champagne and Spanish Cavas, their word for sparkling wines. One taste of Freixenet Casa Sala ($43.50) and the debate over quality, price and flavor is over. The Spanish sparkling wines deliver on all counts and, for the price, represent a fantastic value. Case in point, Freixenet Casa Sala, which I tasted at the recent Spain's Great Match event, which will have its Chicago incarnation at Venue Six10, 610 S. Michigan, Thursday, Nov. 2. Visit Eventbrite for tickets and information. The Cava is outstanding and worth every penny.

Cava is the iconic sparkling wine of the Iberian Peninsula and is made in the Methode Traditionelle. It was first developed in the 1870s after Josep Raventos returned from France with the desire to perfect a Spanish equivalent to the marvelous sparkling wines he had tasted in France. He married into the Cordorniu family, which still dominates the Spanish Cava industry in terms of production.

The sparkling wine, which comes from Catalonia, Spain, is complex and refined. It is a Gran Reserve Brut Nature Vintage Cava made with a traditional Cava blend of native Karel-lo, Macabeo, and Parellada grapes with a bit of Chardonnay for balance and refinement.

The result is a wine of unusual complexity and structure. Hints of crisp green apples, with aromas of white flowers and a slight expression of mandarin orange and bright citrus at the forefront with a steely minerality that gives the wine backbone and an acidity that makes it the perfect accompaniment to firm cheeses such as Spain's native Machengo or Italian Parmesan. Seafood Paella and salads are a terrific combination.

The Spanish love seafood and embrace everything from smoked or grilled octopus to mussels steamed in wine, garlic and savory herbs and myriads of smoked and cured meats. Hearty game meat stews are another specialty that will benefit greatly with a bottle of Cava at the ready. Fall is perfect for Cava and there is none better than Freixenet Casa Sala!