For which I’m sorry. It has been two years since I reviewed Cristalino, the Spanish sparking wine known as cava, and that post was more a back-handed slap at the lawsuit that made it change its name because a federal judge ruled that consumers might confuse it with the $150 Cristal, which was French and Champagne. (Its new legal name is Jaume Serra Cristalino, which I refuse to use.)
This was one of the first wines I ever reviewed professionally, back in my newspaper days, and it has never – and I mean never – let me down. The first bottle I opened for this review was flat (no doubt sitting on a shelf in a hot warehouse too long), but was still quite drinkable.
Cristalino ($7, purchased) is everything a cheap wine should be and too often isn’t – varietally correct and well made, with distinct flavors and character. Look for terrific bubbles, a little bit of green apple fruit, and even a sort of mineral finish. Yes, it’s simple, but it’s also not too much of one thing or not enough of another, an incredible achievement for a $7 wine.
It will take its rightful place in the 2013 $10 Hall of Fame in January, and I will drink more of it this holiday season and recommend it for Thanksgiving. Because it’s always good to say hello to an old pal.