A Bright New Dawn for Cava

Peter Morrell hears from Cava Producers and Industry experts about a brand-new classification system for this very popular Spanish sparkling wine

The president of the Cava Designation of Origin Regulatory Board - Javier Pagés
The president of the Cava Designation of Origin Regulatory Board – Javier Pagés

I have always been a great fan of Cava, it is dryer than many other sparkling wines, helped by the three primary grapes used in its production, Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarel-lo.

The other factor that gives Cava its complexity is the fact that it is mandatory to have a second fermentation in the bottle. The lees, or yeast, created by this fermentation produces the bubbles, and imparts the flavours treasured by sparkling wine drinkers. The longer the time ‘on the lees’, the more complex the favours. This is known as the Traditional Method, the same that is used in Champagne production.

There has recently been a major new initiative announced by the Cava Designation of Origin, the organisation that oversees the production of the wine and ensures its high quality. The announcement will see the establishment of a new classification system that will appear on the labels of the first bottles in January 2022.

The president of the Regulatory Board, Javier Pagés commented “We are committed to maximum traceability and quality. It is the most demanding regulation in the world for quality D.O. sparkling wines made using the strict traditional method. All of this places the Cava D.O. at the forefront of quality sparkling wine designations of origin.

The new system is a re-definition of terms that denote the maturity of Cava.

Cavas aged for more than nine months will now be called Cava de Guarda, while those aged for more than 18 months will be called Cava de Guarda Superior. Cavas Reserva will be aged from 15 to 18 months. The ambitious new regulations mean that the production of Cavas de Guarda Superior, the long-aging category that includes Cavas Reserva (minimum 18 months of aging), Gran Reserva (minimum 30 months of aging) and Cavas de Paraje Calificado (from a special plot and with a minimum of 36 months of aging), will be 100% organic by 2025.

One of the Cava Producers at the meeting was Mireia Pujol-Busquets Guillén, one of the family who owns the Alta Allela Mirgin winery, the closest vineyard to Barcelona. The family use organic farming methods and produce fine Cavas and still wines.

Fired by Mireia’s enthusiasm for the Cava they produce I tried a bottle the vineyard’s Alta Alella Mirgin Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2017. This is a fine expression of the quality of Cava that is being produced. The wine pours a pale straw colour and has got an abundance of fine, fast-moving bubbles giving it a delicate foam on the surface. There are bright citrus and apple notes in the bouquet which persist as the Cava moves onto the palate. The wine has good body and there are yeast and fruit notes in the mouth, with a touch of honey. The acidity is well balanced with a degree or minerality. This makes it a refreshing summer aperitif, and a good companion to food like paella and seafood. The finish is long and fruity.

For more about the Alta Alella vineyard go to https://altaalella.wine/

This new initiative creates an exciting future for Cava and will make it rank as one of the world’s great sparkling wines.

For more about Cava visit the Cava Designation of Origin website

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