Irish Examiner Saturday - Irish Examiner - Weekend


- Leslie Williams Contact Leslie Williams at

The year is almost over and there is no better way to mark the arrival of 2020 than by popping a cork — although strictly speaking you should ease the cork out gently so that it makes a barely audible pssst sound. This weekend is by far the best time to stock up on champagne or cava as there are offers everywhere. Given that sparkling wine is as appropriat­e for a christenin­g or a wake, I promise you that it won’t go to waste. One significan­t developmen­t occurred this year with the creation of a new Sparkling Wine DO in Spain. Nine of the best cava producers have made the decision to drop out of the Cava DO and opt for Corpinnat DO instead. Corpinnat could be translated as ‘Heart of Penedès’, the intention being to put the focus back squarely on the original home of cava. Grapes must be grown in the Penedès DO, hand-picked, and 75% from the producer’s own estate.

They also need to be certified organic and 90% native grapes (xarel-lo, parellada and macabeu) — 10% of chardonnay, pinot noir and trepat is permitted, and wines must be aged significan­tly longer (minimum 18 months on lees). The original plan was to simply add the word ‘corpinnat’ to cava labels that met the criteria but the Cava DO was not in favour, likely due to the influence of the mega-producers.

Keeping these icon producers within the fold, whatever the cost to big business, should have been a priority. Corpinnat has perhaps the strictest rules in the wine world, following them should be an aspiration.

I think just three of the nine are imported into Ireland — gramona and llopart are imported by and — I featured Recaredo in this slot last year, its wines are outstandin­g. The others are: Nadal, Sabaté i Coca, Torelló, Huguet-Can Freixes, Júlia Bernat and Mas Candí.

My suggestion­s for New Year’s Eve 2019 are two champagnes, two corpinnat and two cava, I’ve bumped up the usual price sections to compensate for our government’s tax on celebratio­n — sparkling wine is taxed at twice the rate of still wine for pure revenue-raising reasons. Most outlets will have good value prosecco and cava priced under €20.

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