THE ABC’S OF CAVA

THE SPARKLING SIDE OF SPAIN

Sparkling wine lovers, take note! Cava Discovery Week is here, and we are celebrating all that Spain’s leading sparkling wine has to offer from its various styles to seemingly endless food pairing abilities.

 

Based on the numbers, Cava’s global popularity is massive. In 2019, over 249 million bottles of Spain’s top bubbly were produced, with the United States, the third biggest importer, taking in 19 million.

 

Achieving high-quality standards while offering authentic style, Cava is the Spanish sparkler that should be on every wine lover’s radar.

 

Not familiar with this bubbly? No problem. The following is helpful information that will make selecting a bottle of Cava not only easier but also much more fun.

 

WHAT EXACTLY IS CAVA?

Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine made according to the meticulous Champagne method (aka traditional method) where the second fermentation, which creates those beloved bubbles, takes place in the bottle. From here, various styles of Cava exist depending on how long the wine is aged in the cellar on its lees and also the type of dosage (a mixture of base wine is sugar) is added before the bottle is corked. Cava can be either blanco (white) or rosado (rosé).

 

The Consejo Regulador de los Vinos Espumosos formally enacted regulations for making Cava in 1972, about 100 years after the first bottles of sparkling wine made in the traditional method were produced in Spain. While Cava was originally produced exclusively in the region of Catalunya, the appellation has since expanded to include other specific-areas of Spain. Still, the vast majority, 95 percent, of Cava is produced in Catalunya in an area called Comtats de Barcelona. 

 

Today, Spain has 214 Cava producers and over 94,000 registered acres dedicated to producing this special sparkling wine.

 

WHAT MAKES CAVA UNIQUE?

One of the most unique characteristics of Cava is the grapes. A blend of indigenous grapes Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada, which are well suited for the area’s Mediterranean climate, make up Cava’s traditional blend. Each grape brings unique characteristics to Cava: Macabeo for its refinement, Xarel-lo for its acidity and Parellada for its aromas and ageing potential.

 

Today, more grape varieties, local and international, have been approved for Cava production. These include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Malvasia, Garnacha Tinta, Monastrell and Trepat.

 

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF CAVA?

When reading the label on a bottle of Cava, it’s important to be familiar with the four levels of classification and what the standards for each entail:

 

Cava de Guarda: a wine that must be aged on the lees for a minimum of nine months. These young wines show lots of freshness and fruity flavors. For those new to Cava, this category is a great place to start

 

Cava de Guarda Superior Reserva: a step up, these wines are aged on the lees for a minimum of 18 months and show more complexity and richness on both the palate and nose 

 

Cava de Guarda Superior Gran Reserva: With a minimum of 30 months ageing on the lees, these Cavas offer distinctive personality and lots of complexity

 

Cava de Guarda Superior de Paraje Calificado: the highest level of Cava, the grapes used to make these sparklers come from either a specific vineyard and estate and are aged for a minimum of 36 months on the lees. These are the most terroir-driven Cavas that showcase a unique sense of place

 

Ready to stock up on some Cava? Look no further. Here at Gary’s we have several selections of Cava to choose from!