N.V. Idilicum Cava Brut, Dominio de la Vega, Utiel-Requena, Valencia, Spain

A superb, creamy, biscuity Cava with a lovely fine mousse and plenty of character. Made by the same method as in champagne, it has style and finesse beyond its price. A bite of green apple, a hint of yeast and a twist of white pepper, but overall the style is easy-going so this should please a thirsty crowd.

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£11.62

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N.V. Idilicum Cava Brut, Dominio de la Vega, Utiel-Requena, Valencia, Spain

Producer Background

It is a common misconception that all Cava comes from Catalonia. Whilst the majority does, it can be made in a wide variety of areas, as long as it conforms to the strict production methods laid down. Dominio de la Vega is based in the hills inland from Valencia and has built up an impressive reputation for its Cavas in a relatively short period of time, garnering some of the highest ratings ever given to Cava by Robert Parker and winning numerous awards in Spain. The Cavas here are all rich and toasty having had extensive lees ageing in bottle and are something special. The inspiration for idilicum comes from the landscape of Pinarejo area close to a trough were there are several ravines where the Macabeo is planted. It has clay and limestone and a little bit more humidity and fertility.

Winemaking

Hand harvested, the juice undergoes 8 hours of skin contact to enhance the fruit depth, before traditional method production and a minimum of 12 month ageing on the lees. Finished with a relatively low dosage of 6 g/l.

Regional Background

Utiel-Requena, located west of Valencia city, is the largest wine region (in terms of area under vine) in the Valencia region on Spain’s east coast. Grape growing is Utiel-Requena’s driving economic force, and archaeological finds show viticulture dates back to at least the 7th Century BC, from the time of the early Iberians. In 1BC, Ancient Romans settled there and introduced improved winemaking techniques. The region has enjoyed fame and demand since, particularly during the late 19th Century when outbreaks of phylloxera and powdery mildew devastated production in France – Utiel-Requena’s wines helped to fill the void.

Utiel-Requena was established as a DO in 1957, deriving its name from the towns of Utiel and Requena, to the northwest and southeast of the designation respectively. The land in the region is mostly flat, dry and harsh. Utiel-Requena’s most notable feature is its uniform climate and topography throughout the whole designation. It sits on a plateau 43 miles (70km) inland from the coast and approximately 2300 ft (700m) above sea level. The region’s location and geography give it a transitional climate – between Mediterraneanand continental. The higheraltitude vineyards (some reaching 2950ft/900m) have traditionally shaped the wine styles produced, with early autumn frosts often forcing vineyard owners to harvest their grapes before they have reached optimum phenolic ripeness.

Bobal, a native red-wine variety, dominates plantings in Utiel-Requena, meaning the region specializes in reds and rosés (rosados). In the past, these under-ripe wines did not respond well to barrel maturation and most producers turned to rosé – which became the staple wine of the designation. However, in recent years, attention has been refocused on red wines, including the blending of Bobal with varieties such as Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. This innovative approach has worked wonders and the wines are characterized by delicate, black-fruit aromas when young and more-complex flavors after oak aging. Utiel-Requena now produces some excellent examples of aged wines, a far cry from its bulk-production status of the past.

A traditional wine style in Utiel-Requena (still made by a small number of producers) is the red doble pasta (the literal translation being ‘double pulp’). It involves fermenting Bobal must with leftover skins and pulp after the juice has been removed for the rosé wines. This ‘double maceration’ results in high extract, color and tannins.

The south-eastern half of the region, aside from qualifying for the Utiel-Requena DO, is also authorized to produce the espumoso (sparkling) Cava, Spain’s answer to Champagne. Typically it is made from Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada, although Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, among other varieties, are now permitted in the Cava blend.

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