Copa de Cava launch party
Mention cava and the associations don’t tend to be flattering. Bulbous bottles, habitually found in the discount aisle, most likely offering a paper-thin imitation of champagne. At Copa de Cava however, London’s first dedicated cava bar, that impression may just be about to change.
Owner Richard Bigg seems to be on something of an odyssey to bring the best of Spain to London. Having already launched Camino Spanish restaurants as well as Pepito, London’s first sherry bar, Copa de Cava is his latest Iberian excursion.
Bigg acknowledges the challenge in turning the perception of something widely seen as “cheap and not at all prestigious” into something altogether more rarefied. Yet both Bigg and his knowledgeable staff are clearly passionate about the vast range of cava available and the traditional methods that inform its production.
It is obvious, yet also rather illuminative, to realise that cava is simply named after the deep underground caves in which the bottles are stored during the fermentation process. As you step down a winding staircase into Copa de Cava, the dark, exposed brickwork and vaulted ceilings transport you to rural Spain and into one of those very caves, while its glass-paneled flooring reveals huge racks of bottles continuing on their own journey into ripeness.
The selection touches each of the three styles of cava – Brut, aged for at least nine months, 15-month-old Reserva and on to the premium Gran Reserva, aged for 30 months or more. As the samples flowed at the launch party, distinctions between the different bottles were not hard to find. A Brut Chardonnay was clean and refreshing, a perfect pick-me-up drink; Reina Cristina Reserva had a silky, sweet taste and would be easy drinking any time; while a Reserva Particular de Recaredo was clearly cava at its very finest, soft at first but then with complex, complementary flavours of honey and herbs.
With such a wide range of tastes and textures available, Copa de Cava speaks of a tradition as proud as French Champagne or Scotch Whiskey, and can surely offer something for nearly any mood or moment. While the drinks might be the main event, a range of tempting tapita evokes Spanish culinary tradition. These go from sharp and simple – crunchy tomato bread and succulent iberico ham – to altogether more complex offerings such as mollejas: a soft, smooth lamb sweetbread in a piquant white asparagus sauce.
It may not be cheap, but for Spanish sparkle with real substance, Copa de Cava is a great choice.
Photos: Martin Frimet
To book a table at Copa de Cava, 33 Blackfriars Lane London EC4V 6EP, call 020 7125 0930 or enquire here.