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Cava producers facing ‘moment of transition’

Producers are working hard to improve their identity, says Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW, who led a seminar at Decanter's Discover Premium Cava tasting event.

‘Cava is going through a moment of transition,’ said Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW, to open the Discover Premium Cava seminar, at Decanter’s Cava tasting event on 16 May.

When Cava was invented, it was seen as the ‘Spanish Champagne’; it uses the same method of production and was believed to be trying to emulate it.

Ballestereos Torres said that there is a shift happening in Cava, and winemakers are developing a unique Cava identity.

‘Only now are people in Catalunya looking into their terroir. They are in the process of looking inside themselves, finding themselves.’

The wines

Of the wines tasted, the second wine – Castellroig, Brut Nature Reserva 2012 – was a ‘textbook example of reserve Cava’.

‘You would never say this wine is a kind of Champagne,’ said Ballesteros. ‘We want to be ourselves [in Cava] – it’s not hiding.’

Cava tends to have less sugar than its Champagne counterparts, because it does not have the same acidity, so there is less need for it; many producers add very little dosage.

Other highlights from the wines included the Perelada, Gran Claustro, Cuvée Especial Gran Reserva 2009 – the Gran Claustro was first invented for a visit from President Eisenhower in 1959.

The grapes

The common grapes used for Cava are Macabeu – ‘the workhorse’ – which gives the wine it’s structure; Xarello, found in Catalunya, and Parellada – ‘the Cinderella’  – which Ballesteros said gives more complex characters, minerality and freshness.

The problem for Cava is that the grapes are sold very cheaply, said Ballesteros, and not given the same value as in Champagne; the region needs to be given value.

‘People wonder how do they produce the wines so cheaply – well someone is paying for it,’ said Ballesteros.

The wines tasted:
•    Jané Ventura, Reserva de la Música, Brut Rosé 2013
•    Casterllroig, Brut Nature Reserva 2012
•    Llopart, Leopardi NV
•    Parès Baltà, Blanca Cusiné 2010
•    Sumarroca, Nuria Claverol Homenatge 2011
•    Juvé & Camps, Gran Juvé NV
•    Perelada, Gran Claustro, Cuvée Especial Gran Reserva 2009
•    Torelló, Gran Torelló, Grans Anyades, Brut Nature 2008
•    Freixenet, Casa Sala 2007
•    Codorníu, Finca El Coster, Pinot Noir Gran Reserva 2009
•    Gramona, Celler Batlle 2005

Updated 20/05/2016: Spelling of the Parellada grape variety

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