Raise your hand if you love to explore largely unknown wine regions. Whether that’s in person, or like these days, getting your hands on a nice bottle, exploring its area of origin virtually.
When I recently spotted this cheerful bottle of Spanish Cava in a nearby wineshop, calling at me with its bright green label, I could not resist pulling it from the shelve and take it home.
My intention was to enjoy it as aperitive, but it seems these days I can’t have a glass of whatever without having something to munch on as well.
Like other sparkling wines, Cava is great to be enjoyed with a wide range of appetizers. But somehow, the idea of pairing it with a proper Spanish tortilla – the traditional Spanish potato omelette – crept up in my mind.
Made with potato and egg, it’s a pretty easy dish. That said, I’ve not yet managed to get it out of the pan in one proper piece (or better, it’s typically breaking when flipping it). Still, it tastes equally good, so I will just settle for the imperfect.
Tortilla is a great dish to be enjoyed as a main or served at room temperature as a tapa / appetizer. Which indeed makes it a great pairing to a large range of aperitive.
But let’s step back a little and start right at the beginning. Are you at all familiar with Spain’s most prominent sparkler, Cava? Possibly yes, but if not, here is a little introduction.
A short introduction to Cava
To be labelled Cava, this type of sparkling wine must be made according to the traditional method (thus second formation taking place in the bottle), the same way Champagne is made. Different to Champagne, which is predominantly made from Chardonnay grapes, the traditional grape varieties used to produce Cava are the native Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes.
The Penedes region in Catalonia, in north-eastern Spain has become synonymous with Cava production. Around 95% of all Cava come from this area.
However, Cava is made also in other regions in Spain, such as in the province of Tarragona just south of Penedes and still in Catalonia.
The region’s namesake regional capital, the coastal town of Tarragona might be a well-known tourist area boasting many ancient ruins that remain from the Roman era, including the 2nd century Amphitheatre Romà, a Negropolis containing Roman tombs and remains of a Roman Forum along with a medieval walled old town.
Yet most visitors won’t know that the province of Tarragona is home to many vineyards stretching right from the Mediterranean coast all the way inland to the neighbouring province of Lleida.
Despite being still one of the lesser-known winegrowing Spanish regions internationally, Tarragona was given DO status back in 1947, making the region one of the oldest designations in the country.
The area is well-known to produce sweet red wines since Roman times, and you can still find several there today. However, most wines produced in the area today are dry white wines and indeed Cava.
This is where Casa Mariol Cava Brut Nature 48 Mesos is produced.
About Casa Mariol
Located close to the town of Batea, in the somewhat hidden Terra Alta region of Tarragona, Casa Mariol is nestled above the Ebro River that runs through the valley.
Even though family-led Casa Mariol is looking at more than one hundred years of winegrowing experience, the company behind the winery was founded only in 1945. At the time, wine was still made at the home of owner José María Vaquer Bes. Which was not exactly unusual in the area. Indeed, the historic houses you can still find in Batea today were built centuries ago to store wine.
In the 1960s Casa Mariol’s first modern wine cellar was built, followed by various extension and the construction of a completely new winery dedicated to the reception of grapes and winemaking in the year 2000.
Despite the family’s long wine-making history, the Casa Mariol bottles are styled in a distinctively modern and fresh way. There’s even a QR code on each of their labels that offers a simple guide to each of the different wines, including tasting notes and food pairing suggestions.
Now that’s a feature you still won’t find on many other wine labels – not even the most recent wineries opened around the world!
Casa Mariol makes an impressive range of wines, including both international and local white and red varieties. They also make three different Cava – Cava Brut Nature 14 months, Cava Brut Rosé 16 months and the flagship Cava Brut Nature 48 months.
By the way, if visiting Barcelona is on your bucket list, make sure to pay a visit to Calle Rosselló 442. That’s where you will find Casa Mariol’s own wine bar and bistro, where you can taste their full range of wines along with their artisan Vermouth.
Tasting notes: Cava Brut Nature 48 Months
As you might have figured, the distinction of months hints to the time the wine is aged prior to release.
The Cava Brut Nature 48 months is an excellent Cuvée from local varietals xarel-lo, macabeu and parellada, and ages 48 months in the bottle prior to release.
In the glass, a pale yellow.
On the nose, notes of jasmine and lychee.
On the palate, soft and harmonic.
This is indeed the perfect Cava for an aperitive but also pairs to a large range of food, including appetizers, fish, poultry and white meat.
And finally, here is the recipe for a Spanish potato and chorizo tortilla.
Recipe: Potato-Chorizo Tortilla
400 g potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
120 g chorizo, chopped
Add potatoes to a large saucepan with abundant salted water. Bring to boil and cook until the potatoes are just tender.
Set aside to let cool a bit, then peel and cut into small pieces.
In a frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and fry until slightly glassy. Add the chorizo and cook for a few minutes.
In the meantime, beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper.
Add potatoes to the frying pan and mix with the chorizo. Pour over the egg mixture and over medium heat, cook for a few minutes until the eggs are starting to set.
Flip the tortilla onto a plate, then slide it back into the frying pan with the uncooked side down. Continue to cook for another couple of minutes until the bottom is set and starting to brown.
Serve still warm as a main or let cool slightly, cut into small pieces, and serve as tapas.