Saturday, March 17, 2012

Okhre Natur Cava: a bold buy for M&S

I suspect I see the hand of former Marks & Spencer buyer Jo Ahearne (now at Harrods) in this wine which is far from the M & S norm. I saw her moseying around at the Natural Wine Fair last year so she obviously has an interest in this type of wine.

It's an organic Cava from Celler Josep Pinyol and is sourced - and I quote from the tasting booklet - "from organic vines grown in soils with high chalk content, located at a minimum altitude of 500 metres in the municipality of Sant Sadurni d'Anoia, southwest of Barcelona."

It's actually really attractive but is a long way from what most people would expect from Cava. It's far more fruity (apple and peach predominate) and without that pronounced harsh yeasty character of cheaper cavas. It's also very* dry (the wine is described as brut nature and the dosage is only 3g). It would make immensely refreshing summer drinking but I can also imagine the average M & S customer thinking 'well I might as well drink cider'.

At £9.99 it'll be interesting to see how it goes. It's only available in 67 stores so they're obviously being cautious about the distribution. Look out for M & S's periodical 25% off offers if you buy six wines which would bring it down to a very attractive £7.49.

Rating: AMBER (see side panel, right)

* I originally said 'quite dry' but as Luc Charlier, below has pointed out I should more accurately have described it as very dry.

PS I know I said I was going to continue addressing the subject of soupy reds in my next post but I'm still collecting my thoughts . . .


  1. Fiona, first an introductory comment, then a question.
    (i) Correct me if I’m wrong, but Brut Nature in the cava range designates sparkling wines which BY DEFINITION must contain almost no added sugar after fermentation, 3 gr/l being the maximum allowance. If they are sweeter than that, they become Extra Brut (up to 6 gr), Brut (up to 15 gr) and so on. Or have I misunderstood the rules? Little wonder then they taste “dry”. Even in a wine with low acidity – rarely the case in sparkling wines – most human palates do NOT identify such minute levels of sugar.
    (ii) Just for the sake of my own information, living next to the producing area and not familiar with the British expectations in cava: what are the “usual” expectations in UK ? My view – from here, but it is also valid in Belgium – is that you quite often get excellent value cava (fruity, crisp, not bitter ....), for a fraction of the price you would pay a “champagne coming from Champagne”. Have I been plain lucky so far ?

  2. Luc, you are clearly much more familiar with the Cava regulations than I am (but far too tactful to say so). Shall correct the misleading impression that I am surprised at its dryness though the cheap Cavas that come to the UK have in the past been much less dry. Harsh too. But that is changing due to the inroads that have been made by prosecco. We're seeing much better quality Cavas now