Experience the true taste of Catalonia with Cava and tasty tapas from Clos Montblanc and Saporista.
This is a most timely, seasonal appetising story as we look forward to social gatherings with family and friends over the summer.
The family story behind the speciality food store, Saporista is like plot of a romantic movie. Lance Corporal George Titchmarsh, while serving in Italy during World War 2, fell in love with his dream girl, Amelia Chiappella and the blossoming of their British / Italian partnership carries on today through their grandson.
With this Italian heritage in his blood, Sam Titchmarsh and his wife Liz, who had lived in Venice for a while as a European history student, share a passion for its superlative cuisine and culture. After bringing back samples of their favourite local food and drink from a holiday in Tuscany the year before, they found that these were not available to purchase here in the UK.
And so they founded an online European Deli, Saporista in 2020, working with a team of foodie scouts based across Italy, France and Spain, who source quality, artisan produce – the brand name comes from the Italian word ‘Sapore’ meaning ‘taste’ or ‘flavour’.
The countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, home to sunshine, sea and fresh local food, holds the key to good health. The typical daily diet is based around seasonal vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, olives, olive oil, grains, cheese, fish – especially salmon and oily fish – and white meat.
Based on international academic research, in 2021 the Mediterranean diet was named the healthiest in the world (for four years running), due to its prevention of cardiovascular disease and for promoting longevity.
Eating well is all part of traditional family life and culture, very much at the heart of socialising over a refreshing drink in the early evening. It’s fascinating to know that the Latin word ‘Aperire’ means ‘to open’, giving the root of the Italian and Spanish word ‘aperitivo’ and the French word ‘aperitif,’ – an alcoholic tipple to stimulate the taste buds before dinner.
In Italy, popular Aperitivo drinks might be a Negroni or ice-cold Prosecco. In Spain, sparkling wine too – Cava – served with light tapas and appetisers. Essential nourishment indeed, as the Spanish prefer a late dinner after 9 or 10pm.
In order to learn all about Spanish Cava, Saporista organised an online masterclass, broadcast live from the 300 year old Clos Montblanc winery, at Conca de Barbera near Barcelona. Five generations of the family have developed their vine-growing expertise here, growing fifteen grape varieties to produce a diverse range of still and sparkling wines.
From the earth, the fruit, From the fruit, Clos Montblanc
Paloma from Clos Montblanc Winery and Nika from Wine Alphabet gave a most inspiring and entertaining presentation as viewers joined in the tasting at home with their choice of Spanish nibbles to create a relaxing and sociable Aperitivo experience.
First of all, we learn that this region of Spain, Catalonia, is the land of Cava. 95% of this sparkling wine is produced here, due to the fertile terrain where the vineyard terraces are located between the forested Pyrenees and the coastline. The three Spanish grapes that are typically used in Cava production are Macabeu, Xarel -lo and Paralleda, to create a fruity sparkling wine, less sweet than Prosecco.
Cava is, in fact, totally different to Prosecco as it is made in the Champagne method with the second fermentation taking place in the bottle. The wine-making skills are all about the perfect balance of acidity, effervescence, expressive floral-fruit flavour and delicate texture.
Cava is produced with different superior Reserva styles and according to sweetness, Brut Nature, Extra Brut and sweet dessert Cava.
The first Cava to be tasted and tested is the Clos Montblanc Brut Premium in a glamorously artistic silver bottle. This is made in in the traditional method from the blending of the best Macabeu and Parellada grapes with a minimum ageing between 12 and 18 months in the bottle. 11.5% ABV.
It is recommended to serve in a flute glass to allow the bubbles to rise up. The aroma is described by Paloma and Nika as fresh and floral, crisp notes of apple and pear on the palate, with a refreshing clean finish.
My partner and I also detected stone fruit flavours, peach and apricot; it’s delectably light, crisp, dry, biscuity, a hint of almonds with a complex character. A cool, classy Spanish champagne indeed.
Cava is often served in Spain with salty olives and Saporista supplies ‘Aceitunas rellans de anchoa,’ – Ollives stuffed with anchovies, which are utterly delicious, not as salty as one might expect and the texture is like a soft mousse. Try also with a glass of sherry or vermouth rosso and soda. Also fat juicy olives from Sicily, precisely labelled to eat at this time of day: Olive Verdi dei Sicilia per Aperitivo.
As Almond trees are endemic to Catalonia, Roasted Almonds are popular too. Potato crisps such as Apple Cider Vinegar flavoured are a good match as the dry acidity of the sparkling wine cuts through the oily fried texture.
For Spanish cocktail hour, Botularium’s ‘Crema de Alcachofa’ (Artichoke cream) is spread on toast or crackers and as a dip for vegetable crudités. Artichokes, often pickled, are very much part of the healthy Mediterranean diet.
This Cava Brut Premium would also complement sushi, shellfish, rice dishes and pasta for lunch or dinner.
There’s nothing more decadent than a cheeky Bucks Fizz – or Mimosa – for Brunch and a small 25 ml measure in a flute glass was topped up with orange juice. Wow!. This is terrific – the fizz and flavour sings through which shows the quality of the Cava and classic grape variety.
Next is the Clos Montblanc Cava Rosé which is a soft pink shade of cherry blossom This has fine bubbles and made from 100% Trepat grapes – the Pinot Noir of Catalonia. (11.5% ABV), with the fragrance and taste of fresh strawberries, perfect for summer picnics.
As this Cava Rosé is made from red grapes, the best food pairing is with other red fruits, such as tomato and red pepper. Another Catalonian delicacy is Cherry Peppers stuffed with cheese (‘Pimiento cherry relleno de queso’) – these are proper canapés, just the right size to pop in the mouth in one go, as they are so soft and squidgy. Be warned, these are extremely moreish and rather filling which can turn Aperitivo-time into a light supper.
For a sparkling summer, why not experience a Catalonian party – a few bottles of Clos Montblanc Cava Brut and Cava Rosé with a selection of these delicious and healthy tapas.
Saporista offers an online pan-European Delicatessen for an appetising choice of speciality food and drinks with the tag line, ‘A Taste for All Occasions’. Serving tomatoes, olives, cheese, nuts and dips in the Mediterranean mode, mood and manner transform a simple snack into a sophisticated party.
Check out the suggestions for Cava and Nibbles, Delicious Drinks and Easy Peasy Picnics, perfect for all occasions, lazy lunches, cocktail time and BBQs with family and friends. Afternoon Tea sweet treats too.
The new Easy Italian Meal Kits contains a selection of pasta, sauces, pesto, antipasti dishes, bruschetta toppings, Parmigiano Reggiano – eat, drink and dream of sitting under the Tuscan sun!.
Whether your choice is Sherry, Cava, Kir Royale, Prosecco or Negroni at Aperitivo time, raise your glass with the toast, À votre Santé, Salud, or Saluti. Good Health indeed.
The great news is that you can embrace the cool, cultural style and delicious taste of Mediterranean cuisine here in the UK, through Saporista.
Saporista – your one stop, on line shop for home dining, party food, personal gifts and corporate hospitality delivered in attractive, eco-friendly cardboard box hampers. Promotional Virtual Events and Masterclass tastings.
Read all about it here