A Spanish sparkler that truly sparkles - as does it price

To paraphrase Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a wine lover in possession of a few bucks must be in want of a deal.

Let's be clear-eyed about the wine business: Many wine producers, a majority even, seek to convince you that it's simply not possible to secure truly fine wine without paying a premium. This, in a word, is nonsense, and this week's wines prove it.

Torre Oria Brut nonvintage -- I can't recall the last time that I recommended a Spanish cava, the term used in Spain for their sparkling wines. Now, Spanish sparklers are hardly unknown. Brands such as Codorniu and Freixenet have been household wine staples for several decades. They're inexpensive, well-made and reliably dull. But considering the modest prices asked, they deserve no criticism and will get none here.

On the other hand, I can't say that I've been falling all over myself to tell you about these Spanish sparklers either. Dozens of brands abound. Mostly they seem the same, which is to say they are nearly all blends of local Spanish grape varieties such as macabeo, parellada and xarel-lo grown in the Penedès region southwest of Barcelona. The scale of the industry is impressively large, millions of bottles annually.

One of the many producers in the zone is Torre Oria, which was founded in 1897 by the Oria de Rueda family. The family long since left, and Torre Oria is part of a Spanish conglomerate that sells pharmaceutical products and chocolate, among other items. Cava is a big business.

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