- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Freixenet, Brut Nature, 1999, $14

This dry, expressive sparkling wine is as good a cava, or Spanish sparkler, as I have ever tasted. Made from a blend of three local grapes (macabeo, parallada and xarello), it displays a complex bouquet redolent of toasted nuts and fresh bread, followed by nuanced citrus and green apple flavors and a long, subtle finish. Few sparklers anywhere offer as much class and charm at such an attractive price.

Freixenet, the world’s largest sparkling-wine producer, only makes a “Brut Nature” if nature cooperates by providing a strong harvest. In northern Spain, 1999 saw a warm, dry autumn, resulting in ripe, mature grapes. The result is a wine that tastes neither excessively acidic (as cavas sometimes do) nor excessively fruity (as many other non-champagne sparklers often do). Instead, like any excellent sparkling wine, including good champagne, it is marked by elegance and finesse, with all the components in delicate, graceful balance.

This is a great aperitif, but don’t ignore this wine at dinner. High-quality sparklers are great food partners, pairing particularly well with seafood.

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