Vilarnau Brut Reserva Cava, Barcelona NV

Medium gold color; apple, peach, bread yeast on the nose; lemon-lime, pear, apple, citrus, apricot on the palate.

Vilarnau Brut Reserva Cava, Barcelona NV

Brut with excellent acidity (3.05% ABV). Fine, persistent bubbles. Vivid fruit. Clean, smooth mouthfeel juxtaposes with lemon-citrus bite. Fascinating complexity for a bubbly at this price point thanks to 15 months on the lees. 11.5% ABV

Blend of 50% macabeo, 35% parellada, 15% xarel-lo, the three traditional grapes in Spanish cava. Macabeo is the most planted white skin grape in northern Spain. Macabeo wines are dry, medium in acidity, and have notes of wildflowers and bitter almonds. I get some wildflowers in this effort, but we are spared bitter almonds. Parellada brings citrus and golden apples to the blend. Xarel-lo delivers excellent acidity—it certainly plays that role here—and stone fruits, in this case to reinforce the apricot and peach. While many people may not have ever heard of these grapes, they are the classic combination in cava, especially around Barcelona in northeastern Spain (Catalonia).

Vilarnau is a relatively small, cutting-edge winey near Barcelona. It traces its roots to the 12th century. Vilarnau is a contraction of the Latin “Vila Arnau”—the Arnau family’s country house. The first cava labeled Valarnau was created in 1949 using grapes that had been grown on the estate and sold to others for centuries. In 1982, Vilarnau became part of the González Byass company (owners of more than 20 companies).

Vilarnau winery

A new winery was built and began making wine in 2005. Vilarnau celebrates a clear focus on sustainability: careful monitoring of energy consumption—biomass waste is used for heating; water management—harvesting rainwater on the winery roof for its adjacent lake; waste reduction—composting, recycling, packaging; and sustainable viticulture—certified organic by the Catalan Council for Organic Agriculture. Vilarnau uses no herbicides in its vineyards.

Sagrada Familia Catholic Church

The dramatic label on this bottle is based on a type of mosaic—trencadís—used in Catalan modernism, and closely associated with architect Antoni Gaudi (Sagrada Familia Catholic Church in Barcelona is his masterwork). The fantastic church and its mosaics that inspired the label has been under construction since 1882 and is still unfinished—cathedrals are supposed to take centuries to complete, and in some ways are never considered complete. Gaudi died in 1926. There is a link to the official church website below; Google the church name or Antoni Gaudi to see and learn more about this astonish piece of art and UNESCO World Heritage site that remains strikingly modern almost 150 years after it was conceived in Gaudi’s mind.

Vilarnau Brut Reserva Cava, Barcelona NV is crisp, vibrant, very fruity and flavorful with robust bubbles. Nice balance of assertive fruitiness, citrus bite, acidity. Very good value. Another example of why Spanish cava must be on your bubbly buy list. Clearly works as aperitif with its brut dryness, citrus sharpness, and dramatic bottle. Pair with shellfish; appetizers, snacks, cured meats, charcuterie board; lean fish; and—because of its exquisite acidity—almost any other fare. $12-17

Vilarnau website

Sagrada Familia Catholic Church, Barcelona

Vilarnau winery water conservation
Vilarnau lake
Vilarnau entrance