Once belittled as a lesser kind of Champagne, Spanish Cava is now recognised for the quality sparkling wine it really is. With 70% of Cava production taking place in Catalonia, Barcelona has some excellent wine bars and bodegas offering quality Cavas at fair prices. Here are some of the best places to buy Cava.
In a bar:
L'Animà del Vi
Wine Bar, French, $$$
An intimate wine bar tucked away in the narrow side streets of El Born, L’Animà del Vi is both serious and unassuming. The sort of place where those in the know come to seek out a bottle from a coveted biodynamic producer, but where you can still comfortably ask for a glass of house white, and might not even notice you’ve been served natural wine. The offering by the glass changes daily depending on the owner’s mood and he’ll be only too happy to share the wine’s story if you ask.
A reference in the city, Bar Brutal / Can Cisa is as popular for its food as its wine selection, although the latter is what draws in the new-age wine buffs from far and wide. The thick wine list arrives bound in leather, which adds to the feeling that you’re about to make some tough decisions. Fortunately, there’s a sommelier on hand who can guide you to a choice without making you feel like a loser for having to ask, or embarrassed for wanting to stick to a budget. There are some excellent Cavas on offer, including Gran Reserva Cava – vintage and aged for at least 30 months – and some made with less common grape varieties such as Trepat or Monastrell.
Located on the now oh-so-trendy Parlament Street in Sant Antoni, Els Sortidors del Parlament has been around since long before the health-food shops and concept stores arrived. A successful blend of old and new, the bar has the rustic charm of an old bodega with its wood-barrel tables and old floors, but with good music and craft beers on tap. They also have a wide selection of local and Spanish wines which can be bought to take away or drink in, including a number of reasonably priced Cavas from a variety of well-known and less well-known bodegas.
The fact that La Vinya del Senyor is located directly opposite a major tourist site – the Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral – could set off the ‘tourist trap’ alarms. Not so, though, for this rather stylish wine bar which has managed to retain its integrity in the face of temptation. The weekly rotating selection of wines by the glass offers the chance to sample some rather interesting bottles, including some specialist and small-batch Cavas. Watch out for talks by local producers or guided tastings with wine connoisseurs.
If world-famous wine critic Jancis Robinson says of a place, ‘any wine lover within range should spend much of their lives there,’ chances are you should pay it a visit. If Monvínic looks a little intimidating at first, with its sleek modern décor and wall-to-wall wine racks, it’s in fact a very welcoming place where you’ll soon find yourself wanting to order a second glass – or bottle. There are some outstanding bottles of Cava to be found in their cellar, and while some are on the expensive side, there’s a suitable choice of medium-range bottles on offer, too.
One of Barcelona’s most famous wine shops and suppliers, Vila Viniteca has some 7,500 different names of wine on offer, including a wide range of Cavas. Bottles start at around €10 and range up to around €150 for a bottle of Gran Reserva Cava. Bottles from the most prestigious bodegas in Catalonia can be found on the shelves here, and this is a good option if you’re looking for something classic. There’s also a small deli and bar where you can sample some of their wines with a selection of fine local cheeses or cured meats.
Located in the up-and-coming Poblenou neighbourhood, Cuvee 3000 is a wine supplier specialising in smaller-batch wines or wines with a more unusual profile. There’s a good selection of reliable natural wines, many from Spain and nearby France, including natural sparkling wines, some with the appellation Cava and some without. Most of the sparkling wines are made according to the Traditional Method – like Champagne and Cava – but there are also some interesting variations.