Alko’s: Savia Viva Familia Xarel-lo 2009 by Pares Balta (Spain, Catalonia)

Today let’s have a look at this inexpensive and intriguing white wine from Spain. But first a little story.

Penedès is the name of a wine region in Catalonia. This place is well known for Cava wines. Cava is a sparkling wine made the same way as Champagne. Aside from the region climate, the grapes differs, however the method is the same and the introduction of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir make it possible to produce wines that can be compared to Champagne in many ways. Yet, that is not the point. The originality of Cava still is to be found in the indigenous grapes because the point of a clever winemaking is NOT to create a Champagne-like wine.

These original grapes are Parellada, Viura and Xarel-lo. The Parellada is a quite neutral grape, bringing loads of acidity and thus highly suited to make sparking wine. Viura, also known as Maccabeu, is a rather aromatic grape, bringing fruity flavor (exotic sometimes), stony taste and a oxidative notes. However picked at a low level of ripeness (which is the case when you aim at producing sparkling) it displays a quite discrete aromatic profile and also a strong acidity. Xarel-lo has the strongest personality. Its perfumes place it between Chardonnay and Chenin. Clean acidity and a toasted, nutty taste makes it a perfect candidate to spice up the Cavas. This also makes it a very interesting grape to produce still wine, which is what this Savia Viva is.

This Savia Viva Familia Xarel-lo 2009 is an other great surprise of Alko value wines. The aromatics on the nose are extremely expressive and intriguing (as I said it is!). For those who are not used, there is a little phase to go through and get used to the specificity of this grape. There is hazelnut, almond, warm cookies on the nose, as well as a subtle smell of stone fruit. The mouth is rich in flavour too, with a distinctive oxidative touch. This might surprise you at first but it is what makes this wine delightful. Clean acidity and a slight bitterness balance well the powerful structure of the wine. The length is ok though not as developed as one would wish.

My rating : 76/100 ; 0 0

Great, enjoyable value wine from Alko. One of the best surprises of the year in the white wine category. This is a very easy pairing wine: it will fit meat as well as fish like salmon or trout. Avoid pasta and pizza, which will show a bit heavier side of the wine.

Link to Alko page: HERE. Be careful however, I do review the 2009 and not the 2010 vintage! 2010 will probably be less interesting for the coming 6 months.

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