Happy New Years, Any Time of the Year: Review of Cristalino Brut

champagneSo, how many of you out there remember The Millenium? It was supposed to be The New Years Eve To End All New Years Eve’s.  It was when the Big Universal Clock  was going to roll from 1999 to 2000, and all the world’s technology was going to (maybe) come crashing down.

So we all planned our New Year’s Eve celebrations very carefully. We wanted the most bang for our buck, since this might be our last buck (hopefully not our last bang…). Anyhow, I was bringing the bubbly to our party. I considered U.S. sparklers, of which there are many I like, and  even an Aussie  sparkler or two. But what I settled on was this: Cristalino Brut Cava, a wonderful (and wonderfully cheap) sparkling wine from Spain. I popped it open at midnight, and two things happened: 1- the world didn’t come to an end, and 2- everyone loved my bubbly.

Cava is the name the Spanish use for their sparkling wine, and before you get all “wine snob” about it, let me assure you that Cava’s can rival French Champagne for quality. They are made in exactly the same way as the French: the Cristalino bottle says, “Metodo Tradicional”, meaning “Made in the traditional Champagne way”. It is also “Fermented in this bottle”, which means the second fermentation has been allowed to happen just like in Riems, France. And that’s a good thing…

The major difference from French to Spanish sparkling wine is the grape varieties. The Penedes region in Northeastern Spain, where most of the Cavas come from, uses three white grapes called Macabeo, Xarel-lo (which I wish I could tell you how to pronounce), and Parellada. They produce a sparkler that’s popular all over the wine world.

Cristalino’s nose suggests green apples, nuts and a hint of spice.  The palate is clean and delicately fruity, with apples, pears and citrus  leading the way. There’s good body and a creamy mouthfeel, followed by a finish that’s clean and crisp.

This stuff is perfect for Americans. We don’t appreciate the French “yeasty, bread-doughy” style of Champagne, so this one fits our palate AND our budget. Cristalino is only around $10 A BOTTLE! You can buy a case of it for the cost of a few bottles of French Champagne. And your friends will love you for it. Pop this open at your next brunch, or as an aperitif before your next dinner. (We’ll talk soon about Sparkling Wines as The World’s Best Aperitif.) However and whenever you do it — Cheers! I’ll toast to that!

Cristalino Brut Cava $9.99

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