Question: Cava vs. Prosecco

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Question: Cava vs. Prosecco

Postby Pinchas L » Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:59 am

Hi,

While most of my time spent in wine forums is on Rogov's side of the fence, I feel this particular question will benefit from the broader perspective offered by this side. So here it is:

The technical differences between Cava and Prosecco not withstanding, are there well defined stylistic differences between them and what are they?

From my limited experience it seems that Prosecco is intentionally made in a style, even when it is a brut, that is softer, rounder and overall elegant, working better as an apertif on its own or accompanying appetizers and light dishes, whereas Cava is produced as an angular wine, best described as agressive and muscular, whose tartness makes it a very good match with almost all foods, accompanying light appetizers as well as creamy pastas, seafood and meat. In my case, the fruit profile was considerably different, too, the Cava exhibiting the tartness of green apples and the citrusy acidity of lemons, the Prosecco showing a bouquet of white fruits: peaches and nectarines.

Did I observe accurately, or is it perhaps just a refelction of the limited sample I enjoyed?

Best,
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Re: Question: Cava vs. Prosecco

Postby Peter May » Tue Aug 16, 2011 6:49 am

In brief I agree with your description of stylistic differences, but there are a vast range of Cava and similarly Prosecco and while Cava is restricted to Spain I have had Prosecco from Australia, and pink Prosecco from Italy, and there are two degree of fizz, spumante and frizzante.....

But we are in a period of change.

Cava is increasingly being made with some Chardonnay rather than solely traditional varieties, which softens and (IMO) dilutes Cava, and the recent grap by Italy/EU for the Prosecco name and the policing by the Consorzio should remove the poorer fizz.

I like both and DOCG Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco is in no way in inferior fizz.

I'd prefer Cava to stay true to its traditional varieties -- I don't drink it because I want a Champagne clone, I drink it because it is not Champagne.
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Re: Question: Cava vs. Prosecco

Postby Ken Schechet » Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:49 am

Hi Pinchas, I recognize you from the Rogov side of the Forum.

I think your observations of the stylistic differences between Prosecco and Cava are right on. Prosecco is traditionally served as an aperitif and if you visit an Italian home in the Veneto you will likely be handed a glass of Prosecco as you walk in the door. Cava is more of a food wine with the characteristics you describe.

Additionally, Cava is made from a variety of grapes using the methode champenoise. As noted, the Spanish are sneaking more Chardonnay into it and I also don't think that's a good thing. Cavas can vary quite a bit. Prosecco, on the other hand, is a grape. It is sometimes called Giulia, and it's the only thing in the bottle. It is produced using the charmat method where a secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. It's a bit more uniform in its taste profile.
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Re: Question: Cava vs. Prosecco

Postby Victorwine » Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:29 pm

Here’s a nice write up on “The Charms of Prosecco” by Tom Hyland.

http://www.wineloverspage.com/italwineg ... ecco.phtml

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Re: Question: Cava vs. Prosecco

Postby Lee Short » Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:28 am

I agree with most of what's been said so far, but I would also note that a lot of the Prosecco I try has a kiss of RS (or more), which I rarely see in Cava.
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Re: Question: Cava vs. Prosecco

Postby Joel D Parker » Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:47 am

Yeah, I generally agree with you Pinchas. This summer I've had some Brut Cava with a long note of iodine or quinine and other savory minerals running through the palate, which I found to be a quite appealing match to the other tart and citrus flavors in the wine. I've never had such sensations in a Prosecco, nor have I looked for them, since as you say, Prosecco is meant to be softer and in many ways simpler than good Cava.

@Lee, I suppose you're comparing a dry Prosecco to a dry Cava? Because anything less than Brut (ie. extra secco and so on) is going to have residual sugar in Cava as well.

Still, although I expect each wine to do different things, I've never had Cavas with the absolute breadth that many Champagnes can maintain through the addition of Pinot Noir. I'm not saying they don't exist, I've just never had them.
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Re: Question: Cava vs. Prosecco

Postby Pinchas L » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:46 am

Thanks for the replies and the valuable information.

Joel, I purposely left Champagne out of my original post, since I wanted to steer the discussion clear of perceived qualitative differences, focusing on stylistic differences.

In general, I like bubblies in part because of the added weight and sensations the fizz contributes. The stylistic differences amongst the various sparklers (and their prices) determine when to make use of each of them. And the answers I got seemingly point to a consensus regarding the styles of Cava and Prosecco.

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Re: Question: Cava vs. Prosecco

Postby Richard Fadeley » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:46 pm

The only problem I have with the two wines is that IMO Prosecco should cost less than Cava, while it is the other way around, I get a lot more bang out of a typical Cava than the slightly sweeter Prosecco. And the production cost, etc. should favor a higher priced Cave. FWIW, I drink 10 to 1 Cava over Prosecco. The ridiculously priced Castillano is one of my faves.
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Re: Question: Cava vs. Prosecco

Postby Oliver McCrum » Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:34 pm

I have to point out that the 'technical differences' between Prosecco and Cava are responsible for one of the important stylistic differences between the two types, in that yeast autolysis is an important aspect of the flavor of Cava but not at all with Prosecco, as the wine is drawn off the yeast as soon as the fermentation is complete. This also means that a direct fruit aroma and flavor is important with Prosecco, less so with Cava.

The other main difference is that the best Prosecco is almost always Extra Dry, which is not true of any classic method sparkling wine.
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Re: Question: Cava vs. Prosecco

Postby Lee Short » Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:29 pm

[quote="Joel D Parker"
@Lee, I suppose you're comparing a dry Prosecco to a dry Cava? Because anything less than Brut (ie. extra secco and so on) is going to have residual sugar in Cava as well.
[/quote]

That could be. I can't say I really pay attention to the labeled dryness these days -- I have a core of regular Cavas that I buy, and none of them has much RS. OTOH, there are some Proseccos that I like that do have RS.
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Re: Question: Cava vs. Prosecco

Postby Victorwine » Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:10 pm

Richard wrote;
The only problem I have with the two wines is that IMO Prosecco should cost less than Cava, while it is the other way around…

Definitely agree, that the bulk method to produce sparkling wine is “cheaper” than the traditional method, but than again you have to consider how the “base” wine and the cuvée was produced.

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