In partnership with ARAEX Grands

Explore the world of Cava and how it is made...

In partnership with ARAEX Grands

Cava profile

While it may seem apt to compare Cava to Prosecco as they are often found at similar price points, it shares more in common with classic sparkling wine production such as Champagne or Franciacorta in that it is made in the ‘traditional method’ with secondary fermentation in the bottle as opposed to the tank fermentation used in Prosecco.

Young vs Old

While younger wines can be crisp and fresh, it’s in the aged wines where this method of production lends lovely creaminess and lingering, nutty autolytic notes with boundless complexity.

The rules

A key difference in Cava is that the Denomination of Origin is actually given to the process of making the wine instead of a specific place or region as is seen in other sparkling wine appellations.

While 95% of all Cava production is focused in Catalonia and of that, 90% specifically in the Penedès area, there are seven other provinces in Spain where it can be produced.

When digging in to the full range of Cava there are a great many styles to be found but it can be easily perceived as a “budget” sparkling wine.

Given this, there has been a great deal of activity by the DO and producers to promote their mid and upper range bottles.

For example, the top end Cava de Paratge that is designed to help to demarcate a range of Cavas and has existed for some time, but it hasn’t been immediately obvious to the wine drinker, that are single-vineyard wines with unique characteristics.

In 2017, the first twelve Cava wines were allocated the ‘Cava de Paraje Calificado’. They meet specific criteria, including vines being at least 10 years old, lower yields and 36 months bottle ageing on the lees.

Cava profile

Villa Conchi cellars. Credit: Araex

The grapes

There are many grapes that can be used in Cava, including a number of international varieties such as Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

Three Catalan grapes provide the backbone of most Cava production: Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarel·lo.

Like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier of Champagne or Glera of Prosecco, these grapes have come to define the classic Cava profile.

Macabeu is seen to give the wines fresh fruitiness, Parellada gives aroma and acidity, and Xarel·lo, the structure.

Ageing and ‘serious’ Cava

With time, there are more varietal Cavas being created with only the Xarel·lo grapes as it’s able to stand quite admirably on its own and make sparkling wines that can age for decades. Some producers have been quoted as saying that ‘The ultimate ageing potential of Xarel·lo is yet unknown’.

Cava sits poised to raise its profile greatly in the coming years. While it will always be a wine easy to pair with countless dishes due to its vibrant acidity, there are many cellars ready to show that, 900km south of Champagne, serious bubbly can be produced as well.


Promotion: A word from our sponsor ARAEX Grands

The following Cava wines have been recommended by ARAEX Grands…

Villa Conchi Cava: Loyal to his initial philosophy, Javier Galarreta has selected excellent vineyards and modern facilities to produce a “different” Cava. Since 2009, he has been travelling extensively in Catalunya to find partners capable of producing an elegant, fresh sparkling wine.
In the heart of the Penedès, he discovered the vineyards and qualities he was looking for to make such a style of wine. During his quest to find this Cava, Javier’s mother Conchi passed away in July 2010 and wasn’t able to taste and savour her son’s latest challenge. Villa Conchi is not only a modern, elegant Cava which shows what Spain can offer; it is also a tribute to a woman who was always a source of inspiration for elegance and distinction.

Villa Conchi Brut Selección: Made with 30% Xarel.lo, 30% Parellada, 30% Macabeo and 10% Chardonnay. Each variety is picked and fermented separately. For the second fermentation, the bottles are kept in underground cellars at a constant 15º-17ºC where they are in contact with their lees. This cava spends a minimum of 12 months in the bottle. 

Villa Conchi Brut Rosé: Made with 100% Trepat grapes. We obtain the free-run juice which we ferment at a temperature of 16ºC. The second fermentation takes place in underground cellars without exceeding 17ºC and in contact with the lees. This Cava spends a minimum of 12 months in the bottle.

Villa Conchi Brut Reserva: Cava made with 30% Xarel.lo, 30% Parellada, 30% Macabeo and 10% Chardonnay following the traditional method. Harvested manually only selecting the best bunches of grapes. Disgorging and addition of expedition liquor with no sugar. This cava spends a minimum of 20 months in the bottle.

Villa Conchi Brut Imperial: Cava made with 40% Xarel.lo, 30% Macabeo, 20% Parellada and 10% Chardonnay following the traditional method. Harvested manually only selecting the best bunches of grapes. Disgorging and addition of expedition liquor with no sugar. This cava spends a minimum of 20 months in the bottle.