The first time I drank a Cava in Spain I realized that the party had just started when toasting in this funny way: “Arriba, abajo, al centro y adentro!” This simply means, Glasses up, glasses down, to the front and inside! Although not the exact same, we could say Cava is the Spanish answer to Champagne that has a delicious, exquisite taste that produces immediate happiness.
How is it produced?
It is produced in the same way that is used for French Champagne; the grape‐base mash is fermented from the pressing. The next step is bottling it with a mixture of yeast and sugar. Afterwards, the Cava is fermented for second time to produce that traditional fizzle. A curious bit of information is that the bacteria contributes to bubble size and consistency in sparkling wine. The bacteria, which is similar to the type in Bulgarian yoghurt, and the yeast become part of a secondary fermentation. Once the sediment from the second fermentation is removed, the white wine is now transformed into the sparkling wine Cava.
After fermentation is completed, Cava wine is aged in the bottles with the yeast for at least nine months, or longer for premium quality Cavas. Many producers age the Cava for two to three years rather than the minimum, helping to develop even more the character of the wines. A Gran Reserva Cava has been kept in the aging cellars for at least thirty months. Younger Cavas are characterized by the primary aroma of the grapes, while older Cavas have secondary aromas arising from their prolonged aging in contact with the yeast.
What we should know when buying a Cava bottle?
You can easily recognize the quality of a bottle of Cava by looking at a circle tag stuck on it: black label for Gran Reserva Cavas; green label for medium quality Cavas, and white labels the youngest Cavas. Unlike wine, once you have bought it consume it no later than 2 years. Cava is not meant to age for long periods of time.
Where is it produced?
The beating heart of Cava is in the province of Barcelona, in the region of Vilafranca del Penedès and Sant Sadurní, blessed by God for their amazing soil and ideal climate for wine making. These locations are approximately 40km southwest of Barcelona. The region is surrounded by rough and rocky elevation of Montserrat. Almost a quarter of a billion bottles are produced in a year, 95 per cent of it produced in Catalunya, west of Barcelona. Most of them coming from the village of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. The main producer is Freixenet, making more 50% of the total. Codorníu produces another 60 million bottles a year, matured in an extensive 30km yard of cellars. Also, there are thousands of small producers whose products are of good quality, and are worth trying. I even challenge you to move to the countryside, meet a local and taste a home‐made Cava!
What about the price?
These Spanish bubbles have another attribute, they are quite cheaper than other similar drinks and the cheerful effect and delicious taste is possibly even better.
What about the types of Cavas?
Cava can be categorized by sweetness level, from Dulce, the sweetest, containing at least 50 grams of sugar per liter, to Semiseco, with 35 to 50 grams, all the way down to Brut (3 to 12 grams), Extra Brut (under 3 grams of sugar) and Brut Nature, which has no sugar at all and shows the most of the original wine’s character.
So then, travelers from all the world, what are you waiting for? Would you like to try and discover the Cava’s potential? Go ahead! This is another reason why to visit Catalonia.
One last bit of advice..
Cava without Tapas is as inconceivable as Barcelona without La Sagrada Familia; they are an unbreakable couple! So keep calm, drink Cava, eat Tapas, and be happy!
Want to go to the countryside and learn how local people elaborate this fabulous drink? Join us on our Taste the Authentic Cava Tour