Cava is Spain's sparkling wine, and by law it must be made in the traditional Champagne method. The 2009 Marques de Gelida Brut Reserva Cava (about $20 at wine-savvy markets) goes the standard one better by using organically farmed grapes, principally xarel-lo, parellade and macabeau. The result is a superior sparkling wine fit for special occasions as well as for pairing with food any time or sipping as an aperitif.
It opens with a nose of light lemon and toast accented with understated herbal notes. Classic. On the tongue it is lemony, malty and toasty with a tropical fruit edge and a tiny smidge of vanilla bean. Its columnar bubbles rise in a straw-colored wine and are lively and persistent. Its finish is long and crisp and dry.
We'll drink a good sparkling wine with just about anything, but this excellent cava will pair particularly well with seafood dishes like paella, mussels steamed in white wine and herbs or garlicky pan-sauteed shrimp.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.