Lidl - you should not buy it
Arestel Cava Brut, Lidl
Cava is Spain's Champagne, a traditional-method fizz made from local grapes. When well made, it is a fresh, elegant and linear aperitif.
It is often one of the cheapest fizzes you will find, despite being inherently more expensive to make than, say, Prosecco.
And there's the rub: this is a lovely, inexpensive, widely-available sparkler and you should not buy it.
Why not? Well, the argument goes that discounted to £3.49 as it was the other week, it is simply not sustainable. This picture was tweeted by Susy Atkins with the observation: Spotted in Lidl just now...! Cannot be good for Cava.
At this price, the retailer is probably making no profit, maybe even a loss. How much of this loss is shared between producer and retailer will be commercially sensitive but it is unlikely the producer is seeing much of a return on the cost of making this wine.
Cava has got itself into something of a downward spiral - it's now so cheap that people assume it can't be any good, so there is no incentive to improve quality and the temptation is to sell on price alone. But, now in the "suspiciously cheap" range, further price reductions are more likely to increase suspicion rather than stimulate demand.
So quality will have to be cut in order to manage costs, which further reinforces the perception of Cava as a bad wine.
There are two possible ways out of this conundrum:
- let things continue until the complete destruction of the Cava brand
- repositioning the brand now to stimulate demand at a sustainable price (something closer to the prices commanded by Champagne)
As for you, the consumer, your choices are:
- buy this inexpensive, easily available and very pleasant fizz whilst you can
- seek out a higher-priced Cava that is commercially sustainable for the long-term good of the Spanish fizz industry
As with so many things, there are no easy solutions here, just difficult choices.
I rather liked the wine and, don't judge me but I bought several bottles at the discounted price.
Arestel Cava Brut (£5.29, Lidl) fresh, linear and mineral with sherbetty citrus, florality and a touch of waxed jacket. Elegant, adept and poised.
Drink as an aperitif or match with mixed pintxos.