What is Xarel-lo? 1

What is Xarel-lo?

NV Mestres 1312 Cava Reserva, Barcelona, Spain

The Wine of the Week by Annette Tomei 

So, what is Xarel-lo (and how do you pronounce it)? Cava lovers outside Spain may not be familiar with one of the most important grapes blended into their favorite wine, much less how to say its name properly. Let’s start with the simple part – it’s pronounced zuh-REL-oh. Now for the details…

Xarel-lo is native to the Catalan region in northeastern Spain where it is the most widely planted grape. It is one of three grapes used in making Cava. The others are Macabeo and Parellada. Xarel-lo is prized for its balance and well structured acidy. The grape itself has thick skin and is rich with polyphenols and the antioxidant reservitol. These contribute to the structure and ageability of good Cavas.

But this grape is not just a one-trick-pony. Xarel-lo is also used to make dry still wine, it’s just not as internationally known as Cava. Most of this table wine comes from the town of Alella near Barcelona. Because of the grape’s thick skins, the wines tend to be rich in texture. They are often redolent of lime, stone fruits, and herbal notes.

About this Wine

This wine is pale straw color with a frothy persistent mousse. The aroma of earthy heirloom cider apples and yeast start the mouth watering. On the palate, the apple flavor gives way to minerally lime zest and lemongrass and a hint of under ripe stone fruit. This is a bone dry wine with a pleasant tartness and a touch of astringency in a way that makes it a perfect palate opener.

Though ideal as an aperitif, its clean dry minerality and “scrubbing bubbles” make this a great choice with a variety of foods. For classic pairings, try it with caviar on toast or blini, oysters or other cold raw shellfish, or other simple briny flavors. For something completely different, try this with brightly flavored, light bodied Southeast Asian-inspired dishes with lots of cool fresh herbs, refreshing ginger, lemongrass, and lime.

The Verdict

I’ve long been a fan of Cava and I enjoyed this one as much as any. It is crisp and refreshing, and a great way to start a meal, or a flight of Spanish wines. At an average of $15/bottle it is well priced in the middle of the typical price range for Cava.

I hope you enjoyed the first pour of our Triple X Flight, and that you will continue to join me over the next few weeks as we continue our summertime flights of fancy!

For more about where I enjoyed this and other flights, please visit here.


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