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Brut Force

Stephanie Mee sips Segura Viudas by the sea in the sunshine. And all is well with the world. Photo: Lucky 8.

Sunny days are back in season, and what better way to celebrate than with glasses of bubbles by the beach? Word had been going around that there was a new cava on the market, and being the lovers of libations that we are, we set out to track down this tipple in a seaside locale. Our search led us to Nelayan Restaurant & Beach Bar at Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali where the Segura Viudas Brut Reserva is the newest addition to the wine list.

For those not familiar with cava, this sublime sparkling wine comes from Catalonia in Spain and is made in the same way that champagne is produced. Cava means ‘cellar’ in Spanish, and the name refers to the underground cellars where the wine is aged for a minimum of nine months. The main difference between cava and champagne is that cava is produced in a warmer climate using indigenous Spanish grapes. The result is a fresh, fruit-forward sparkling wine that tends to have lower acidity than champagne.

Up until recently, cava was hard to come by in Bali, but all that changed when Freixenet rocked up to the island with a range of high-quality bubbles including award-winning wines from the Segura Viudas winery. This boutique winery uses time-tested traditional methods like handpicking their grapes and using only the first pressings to retain as much freshness and flavour as possible.

The Segura Viudas Brut Reserva is one of the winery’s star sparkling wines. Made with a blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarello grapes from diverse vineyards around the Catalan region, the wine is fermented with unique yeasts created in the winery, then aged for a minimum of 15 months in a cellar 20 metres below the ground. The Brut Reserva has only just become available in Bali, and savvy restaurateurs have been quick to get their hands on as many bottles as they can.

It’s hard to imagine a better setting for sipping bubbles than at the Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali, an elegant resort set along a strip of sparkling white sand on Jimbaran Bay. Nelayan Restaurant & Beach Bar is their stunning seaside restaurant shaded by a soaring bamboo structure that is open on all sides. We arrive at lunchtime and find a pleasantly breezy space with tables overlooking the beach and ocean. It doesn’t take long for us to settle into the cushioned chairs and sort out our cava craving.

The Segura Viudas Brut Reserva arrives perfectly chilled, pale in colour and giving off aromas of tropical fruit and floral notes. The first sip is cool and crisp and reveals hints of lime and pineapple. The wine is complex enough to sip on its own, but also pairs perfectly with Nelayan’s famous seafood dishes. We opt for the warm octopus and calamari salad with fresh herbs and the grilled tuna with fresh tomato salsa, both of which are enhanced by the acidity of the wine.

Although we’re not usually fans of dessert with lunch, the Espresso Tiramisu sounds just too good to pass up. It comes infused with Kahlua, dusted with chocolate and resting on a vibrant passion fruit purée. Surprisingly, the cava also stands up to the richness of the dessert, as the wine’s light mousse and dry finish balance out the creaminess of the mascarpone and the richness of the espresso-soaked sponge cake.

Once the plates are cleared, the bottle keeps going, which is good because our only plans for the afternoon involve enjoying the clear blue skies, ocean breezes and a few more glasses of cava. The Segura Viudas Brut Reserva met all of our expectations and then some, and we couldn’t think of a better spot to enjoy it than sitting beachside at the Belmond.