Cava vs. Clàssic Penedès
CAVA vs. CLÀSSIC PENEDÈS
The story of Cava is, no question about it, a success story. According to the Cava Regulatory Board, in 2015 more than 244 milion bottles of Cava were sold all over the world. Of that amount, more than 65% were consumed outside Spain.
Production of Cava began in the Penedès area in the second half of the XIXth century. Towards the year 1870, some winemakers based in Sant Sadurní d'Anoia started experimenting with the Traditional or Champenoise Method in order to produce fine sparkling wines.
At the end of the XIXth century, the phylloxera plague was both a catastrophe and a blessing. On the one hand, it completely destroyed the vineyards of Penedès; on the other hand, it gave the peasants the opportunity to replant the fields with indigenous varieties, something that gave Cava a personality of its own. During its first years, Cava was only made from the typical Champagne grapes, namely Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. After the plague, they were substituted for the native Macabeu, Xarel.lo and Parellada, which still constitute the backbone of Cava.
In 1972, France protested about the use of the term "Champán" to designate the sparkling wines produced in Spain. Once again, a setback proved to be an opportunity. The producers were forced to come up with a new name, and that is how the name Cava came into existence.
For many years, Cava has been considered to be little more than a cheap, sort of frothy alternative to Champagne. That perception might have been true in the past. However, nowadays the situation has changed considerably. Thanks to the efforts of a passionate group of winemakers, today we can enjoy the absolute best Cavas of all time. Wines that stand comparison, without any exaggeration, with some of the best French Champagnes.
You don't have to take our word for it. We have prepared a selection of 6 Cavas. All of them are outstanding, and some are exceptional. Just try them, and you'll see.
We begin with Segura Viudas Torre Galimany 2011, a fresh, creamy sparkler partially fermented in oak. Pure and precise, Recaredo Terrers Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2009 is, as its name suggests, an ode to terrer (yes, the Catalan term for terroir). Complex and mature, Mestres Visol Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2010 and Castell Sant Antoni Gran Reserva 2007 embody the best qualities of classic Cava.
Naveran Perles Roses 2012 is a rosé Cava, a single varietal Pinot Noir, that brings a sophisticated touch to our selection. Finally, Gramona III Lustros Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2007 is so good for its price that it is almost unfair to the rest of producers.
Despite the fact that Cava has come of age, not all producers agree with the operating rules of the Cava Designation of Origin. Thus, a couple of years ago some of them decided to create a new quality label, which was named Clàssic Penedès
Clàssic Penedès is a sub-classification inside the Penedès DO that stipulates strict criteria for the production of sparkling wines. Among others, the new quality label determines that, from 2017 on, all of the grapes must come from organic farming. As for the winemaking process, besides the Traditional Method there is also the possibility of using the Ancestral Method (adding no additional sugar to cause secondary fermentation).
Moreover, all of the wines must be vintage wines, and they must have their disgorging date printed on the label. A minimum ageing period of 15 months is mandatory.
The producers gathered under the new label are convinced that the Penedès region is a first-class terroir of exceptional richness and complexity. They aspire to reflect that quality in their wines.
So, here are our suggestions to become acquainted with Clàssic Penedès.
Refugi Brut Nature Reserva de Loxarel 2013 was produced by Masia Can Mayol following strictly organic criteria. Speaking of which, the Albet i Noya winery, producer of Albet i Noya Reserva 3 Brut Nature 2011, was the pioneer of organic farming in Penedès.
Now two wines crafted by the AT Roca winery. AT Roca Brut Rosat Reserva 2013 is a rosé sparkling wine made from an unusual blend of Macabeo and Monastrell. AT Roca Reserva Barrica 2013 is a single varietal Macabeo partially fermented in oak.
We put an end to our list with Sergi Colet, one of the most inquiring producers of the region. Colet Assemblage is a refined blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. As for Colet Navazos Extra Brut 2012, this dry, crystalline, mineral Xarel.lo combines the best of Catalonia and Andalusia, as its shipping liquor was crafted from Sherry wines.
Until our next post,
Just enjoy wine