This week's wine is German Gilabert's Cava, a sparkling wine from Spain. Cava is what is called a DO or Denominación de Origen. What does that mean? Well basically that Cava can be made in a number of regions as long as it adheres to the specific rules set forth by the government. These rules dictate how the wine is made and what grapes can be used. Cava differs from a lot of less expensive bubblies in that it is made in the methode champenoise. This means the wine undergoes its second fermentation in the bottle. This method is more painstaking and expensive than the Charmat method used in Prosecco, in which the second fermentation happens in vats. Cava is made from the Spanish grapes macabeo, xarel-lo, parellada.

Spain had a sort of revolution a few years back in which a lot of very smart people decided that if they put decent wines in really cool packages they would sell like hotcakes. Scores of wines began coming out of Spain with well-designed, striking labels. Some may say, “Hey, that's not important. It's what's in the bottle that counts.” Well, as someone who worked in wine retail for many, many years I can tell you that a good label goes a really long way. A lot more people come into a store asking for, “that stripey labeled wine,” or “the one with the cool birds drawings,” then come in actually remembering the name or producer of a wine. There are a lot of wines out there, and the act of drinking wine isn't exactly conducive to remembering details. A stand-out label is just good business.

The German Gilabert is probably known as “that bubbly with the black and white block letters” in some circles. And, that's probably fine with the producers. I remember about 3 years ago when I went to a tasting in Manhattan and my trusty sales guy introduced me to this little number. “Look at this f*%&ing packaging,” he said to me, “it's brilliant.” Never mind that the wine inside was good. It was destined for greatness. The German Gilabert is a classic cava with upfront tart apple and floral notes on the nose. On the palate it becomes more complex, with flavors reminiscent of an aged white burgundy, cooked apple, lemon rind and honey. It has light, small bubbles that go down smoothly. A great little wine in a great package.