In the world of sparkling wine, Spain flies under the radar. Its image is less glamorous than France’s Champagne or Italy’s Franciacorta. Meanwhile Prosecco has cornered the market for fun, budget bubbles.
However, much like French crémant, Spain – and especially its DO Cava – has much to offer fans of sparkling wine. For a start, in terms of winemaking, Cava has more in common with classics like Champagne in that it is made in the traditional method with secondary fermentation in the bottle, as opposed to the tank fermentation used in Prosecco.
Secondly, Spanish sparkling wines and Cava are produced in a range of styles that will suit everyone. From crisp and fresh younger wines to rosés and creamy, complex vintage wines.
Scroll down for tasting notes and scores for 12 best Cavas and Spanish sparkling wines under £25
Cava: the facts
Catalonia in northwest Spain produces the majority of Cava seen on shelves. However it is the winemaking process that receives the Cava DO (Denomination of Origin), instead of a specific region.
A range of grapes can be used to produce Cava, including several international varieties such as Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. However three Catalan grapes provide the backbone of most Cava production: Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel·lo.
Together these grapes have come to define the signature Cava taste profile. Macabeu give the wines their fresh fruitiness; Parellada contributes aroma and acidity; while Xarel·lo lends structure.
While most Cavas are blends, there has been a definite trend towards producing single-varietal wines. Cavas made exclusively from Xarel·lo are with seeking out and can age for decades.
From value to luxury
Cava has earned a reputation for making some of the world’s best-value traditional method sparkling wines – as the bottles selected below prove. However, the DO’s best producers have also turned their attention to making top expressions that can compete with the best sparkling wines in the world.
To that end, the Consejo Regulador del Cava introduced a new category into Cava production back in 2016. Cava de Paraje Calificado (or Cava de Paratge in Catalan) are wines made exclusively with grapes from a ‘singular parcel’ according to strict production rules. These rules include a maximum yield of 48 hl/ha, a minimum of 36 months’ ageing (versus nine months for a standard Cava, 15 months for a reserva and 30 months for a gran reserva).
Look out for the name Cava de Paraje Calificado on bottle labels if you want to trade up to a more premium Cava.
Meanwhile, take advantage of the many fantastic Cavas and sparkling wines produced in Spain, starting with the bottles below.
Best Cava and Spanish sparkling wines under £25:
Wines shown in score order