Cava has been produced in Catalonia since the XIX century, and with the arrival of a famous plague of the vineyards they had to reintroduce new white grape varieties that ended up encouraging the production on of the new product created from local grape varieties following the champagne production process: cava. The eternal battle between the Catalan cava and the french champagne, in Catalonia cava is everywhere so french champagne is in a second position.
What is cava?
Cava is the Catalan french champagne, it is produced as a wine and legally the European Union recognises cava as a quality bubble wine produced in a certain region, in this case, Catalonia.
Cava is an important part of Catalan culture and traditions and is often consumed at celebrations, there has to be the typical toast with cava in marriages, banquets, dinners and parties. Cava is often served during the dessert time since it is a type of sweet wine.
The most famous sparkling wines in the world are champagne from France, prosecco from Italy and of course Cava from Catalonia -95%- is produced in our country. One of the advantages of cava is with no doubt the price, while champagne start price is around 25 euros, cava starting price is around 4 euros, so it is affordable by most. The only true differences are the grape varieties used and the bottle pressure but the production way is exactly the same.
How is cava wine produced?
The traditional method to produce cava is the same as the one to produce champagne but adapted to Catalonia's grape varieties. The varieties used for cava production are: macabeu that adds the perfume and sweetness, parellada that is fresh and xarel·lo that brings the structure to the wine. For white cava are also used chardonnay and subirat parent as varieties but no as the main grape. We also have rosé wines and for those the varieties used are black garnatxa, monestrell, pinot negre and trepat.
In a short summary, the base wine is done with these grape varieties, after that a liquor is added that is a mix of white wine, sugar and yeast. The liquid is placed in glass bottles and is being fermented twice, there is a cleaning process where the soil and the impurities are cleaned out. In the end, it is bottled with a cork on top and wrapped up and crown on top with a metal lid with the name of the cava brand.
Types of cava
Did you know that depending on how much sugar there is in the cava, it is called in a different way? The added sugar comes from a liquor added, otherwise the no added sugar present in the cava is coming from the same wine. In general, what is the norm is to drink either brut nature or brut, brut for the sweet teeth and brut nature for those who like the natural flavour. Dolç, which is the sweetest of cavas stopeed being produced, and the is increasing the production of brut nature, since there are no added sugars,
Brut Nature: from 0 to 3 grams per litre (no added sugar)
Extra Brut: fins a 6 grams per litre
Brut: up to 12 grams per litre
Extra Sec: between 12 to 17 grams per litre
Sec: between 17 to35 grams per litre
Semisec: between 33 to 50 grams per litre
Dolç: more than 50 grams per litre
What are the best cavas?
Most known cavas internationally are: cava Freixenet and cava Codorniu, possibly because they were the fastest companies to export cava to other countries and they have been around for some time now. This doesn't mean that they are the best ones, this is just my opinion but certainly are not my favorites, the below are my recommendations, on brut and brut nature types.
- Cava Llopart Imperial Gran Reserva Brut
- Estel d'Argent Brut Nature Reserva
- Rovellats Brut Nature
- Castell de Peralada Brut Rosé
- 1+1=3 Rosé Brut Nature Pinot Noir
You can drink cava in many ways, the most typical is to drink it alone, but cava is used for many cocktails the most famous one, the mimosa cocktail. If you want to try a true Catalan cava classic, you need to do a cava sangria, it is delicious and very fresh to have it on summer time.
For Dangria de cava you just need cava, orange juice, sugar, pieces of fruit of any kind to give it a fruity flavour and Cointreau .Check out this sangria de cava recipe.
If you are still unclear of the differences between cava, champagne and prosecco, Vinepair has done a grat infographic comparison between the world's most famous sparkling wines.
Disclaimer: picture cava by Brian Uhreen