Despite being the third most produced sparkling wine in the world after Prosecco and Champagne, Cava is still unfamiliar to many.
Spanish producers first made Cava in the late 19th century, and stored it in a cave, or “cava”. The wines were inspired by French Champagne and produced using the same method. Cava producers even used the name “Spanish Champagne,” until Spain joined the EU in 1986 and regulations ended this practice.
Cava is a Denominación de Origen (DO), being produced primarily in the Penedès region Northwest of Barcelona (near the town Sant Sadurní d’Anoia), although it can also be produced in Rioja, Navarra, Valencia and other regions.
The grapes most commonly used to produce Cava are native Spanish varieties such as Xarel-lo, Macabeo and Parellada—names unknown to most wine drinkers—though some producers also add Champagne grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for elegance and depth.
Lettie Teague, Wine Columnist for The Wall Street Journal, profiles Cava’s unique offering as a sparkling wine.
“I first tasted Cava decades ago. The wine was Freixenet Cordon Negro, the cheap wine in the fashionable matte-black bottle. That wine is still affordable but far from fashionable today. Freixenet—one of the two largest Cava producers in Spain along with Codorníu, the company credited with creating Cava—dominated the Cava market in the U.S. for decades. That market is more diverse today, with more brands, including high-quality small producers like Gramona, Juvé y Camps and Fermí Bohigas. But their wines aren’t necessarily easy to find.”
Read more on Cava HERE