53/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – Cava & Ham – Cava Agusti Torello Mata, Reserva Barrica 2007
Besides writing I also have the obligation, and interest, to follow wine bloggers around the world to see what they are up to. Amazed by the ability they have at churning out piece after piece! Wow! Tonight! Writers block! What is that? A real thing or just a way for those claiming to write something, anything, to have an excuse! Well, if you ask me it’s something true. Then again, excuses are the nails that hold failure together.
Had a, one in a million, bad wine cellar visit today, threw me off bunds and I haven’t quite bounced back yet! My thought was to write a cover for the producer visited, but can’t find myself doing Catalonia, the land of wine, that misfortune. Has to be the Italian job! Yes, there are bad wine producer and less god wines here as well. My point is to give you the ins and outs when it come to the ones you should visit, not the ones you shouldn’t.
However, all that may be, here I am and writing ahead, thanking my friend, my help and inspiration for the night, for that! Having had a long conversation over the FB, I got talked into a starting point, and here it is. Not what you might expect, but nevertheless an article! Parings! The perfect marriage is when you experience an excellent wine with a mouthwatering meal, and the two together make a unity worth repeating and sticking to.
Fish and shellfish with white or bubbly, juicy tender red meats with heavy reds, sweet and fortified with cheeses and glorious desserts! All works for me. Pairing Cava and ham, Jamon Iberico to be exact, two quality products that harmonize perfectly, is something that I discovered living here, take the custom as it is. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should!
It is little known that one of the most interesting pairings for the palate is the combination of a good Cava with delicious dried ham. I say this because Iberian ham, Iberian pork or ham from the white pig, goes really well with a good Cava. So I will propose replacing the red wine, a classic, with a sparkling like Cava, not Champagne mind you! Doesn’t exist in my book! The nuances of the ham will enhance the Cava and vice versa.
First of all, it’s known that in one small piece of ham different flavors ca be extracted. Remember also that the taste of a thin slice cut is different from a thicker slice. It is essential to cut the ham into perspective. This itself can make us appreciate the flavor and aroma which is conducive to the different ham D.O:s Another key factor is the serving temperature. Too cold ham loses many of its organoleptic qualities. The factors mentioned so far can be controlled. Learning to cut the ham or serve it at the right temperature and knowing the differences between different parts of each piece is hugely important.
Additional factors to have in mind are; pig breed, Iberian or white. Fodder. Climatology. Manufacturing process (salting and curing times). Fodder is one of the most important factors, so I would like to dwell a little longer on this. Because fodder texture, taste and aroma of ham vary substantially, leading us to choose the type of Cava for pairing. The type of food in the fattening phase (last few months before slaughter) is distinguished by:
Iberian pig , with a natural diet based primarily on acorns and grass from the meadow (Iberian acorn palettes).
White or Iberian pig fed mainly cereals such as barley and wheat (hams and Iberian bait).
In the different D.O:s, these factors are controlled by the Regulatory Council of each, so that the resulting product is always fairly homogeneous. Generically, let’s look at the qualities of aromas and flavors of all the ham D.O:s of Spain.
IBERIAN PIG .
Ham D.O. Pedroches . Pleasant and intense aroma with a slightly sweet flavor.
Ham D.O Guijuelo . Delicate and fragrant aroma with a slightly salty taste.
Ham D.O. Huelva. Delicate and exquisite aroma with an intense and persistent flavor.
Ham D.O. Dehesa de Extremadura. Intense, enjoyable and nuanced aromas with a little salty , intense and persistent flavor.
WHITE PIG .
Ham D.O. Teruel. Soft, pleasant and evocative aroma with a delicate flavor and slightly salty .
Ham D.O. Trévelez . Soft and penetrating aroma with a taste considered the sweetest on the market.
Now let’s look at the Cava!
Well-cut ham is very important, serving Cava in at the right temperature, equality important. Try to achieve 5 to 8 º C before serving.
To achieve this temperature, do not use the freezer. A rapid change in temperature can affect the characteristics of Cava. Better cool it for a few hours in the refrigerator. If there has been an oversight and we have Cava at room temperature and urgently need to open a bottle, I recommend putting it in a ice bucket for about 20 minutes.
After various hams and Cava tastings, I have come to the following conclusion. The Cava pairs perfectly with ham and enhance its flavor, generally the dry ones!
In conclusion, no need for strawberries, a festive occasions or shellfish! Bring out the ham and the Cava! More importantly, tonight’s Catalan wine! Enjoy!
Cava Agusti Torello Mata, Reserva Barrica 2007
Pale yellow with golden reflections and fine and abundant bubbles. The nose is a festival of flavors, starting with candied fruit, baked apple and floral notes that are slowly giving way to notes of aging. Pastries, yeast, vanilla, oak, candied sugar and nuts. The palate has a fresh entry with a fairly potent carbon, excellent acidity and a really long finish, with hints of parenting and a citrus and bitter twist at the end. Another piece of Iberico works well with this one!