It may look like champagne, but Cava is from a different part of Europe than the more famous bubbly. It’s Spain’s sparkling spirit and it has a history and following of its own.
Spain’s climate allows for a long growing season and it has become the third producer of wine in the world (behind France and Italy). The Spaniards have become more experienced in harvesting their rich soils and the wines have been showing that. Though red wines dominate the products coming from Spain, they are perfecting some whites as well. They’ve also been producing more different types of wine and Cava is one.
Cava is made in northern Spain, with 99% in the northwest of that country. Penedes is a part of the region of Catalonia and the center of Cava production. It is where the grapes are grown and the wine is aged in a similar matter to champagne, usually for 18 to 24 months, in the bottle or in the méthode champenoise, a large tank .
There are no rules as to where exactly Cava’s made, how it’s aged or what goes in it. Cava can range from very dry (brut) to sweet (doux). It comes in white and rose. The white is produced from Macabeo, Parellada, Chardonney and Xarel-lo grapes. Trepat, Monastrell and Garnacha grapes are used to produce the Rose. You will also see other grape combinations or Cavas that are made from only one grape. Segura Viuda’s ARIA Pinot Noir, for example, is made 100% from Pinot Noir.
There are nearly 300 Cava producers in Spain and they all have something in common other than the country it comes from — the price tag. It was originally produced for a 19th century wedding celebration and has since been on the tables celebrating many more ceremonies. Cava is affordable for everyone, with some under $10 and few above $30.
One of the most popular Cavas – especially in the United States – is Freixenet. It accounts for more than half of the Cava produced each year. Many think of it as champagne. It is readily available in your local liquor store and can be purchased for under $15. Freixenet is part of a large family of Cava houses. Castellblanch, Canals & Nubiola, Conde de Caralt and Segura Viudas are all sister companies of Freixenet, coming under the Ferrer Global Wines. The Ferrer family has been producing Cavas for two centuries. Other popular Cavas come from Jaume Serra, Cristalino, Paul Cheneau, Juvé Y Camps and Cava Montsarra.
Next time your budget is too low to bring in the champagne, consider a Cava to satisfy your need for bubbly.