Wondering what Cava wine is? In short, Cava wine is Spanish sparkling wine. You have probably had Cava wine and didn’t even know it. Cava wine is a great alternative to Champagne. It is great when you want to pop some bubbly without breaking the bank.
All About Cava Wine
If you love sparkling wine, grab some bottles of Cava Wine sit back and relax and read along.
History of Cava
The birth of Cava wine came in 1872 when Josep Raventós brought the méthode champenoise back from France.
What Does the Name Cava Mean?
The name “Cava” derives from the Spanish word cava, meaning cave or cellar since caves were used for storing and aging wine in barrels or bottles. So the Cava meaning is a cave. The name, already commonly used at that time for sparkling wine, was officially adopted in 1972, by the newly formed Sparkling Wine Regulatory Council.
Where is Cava Made?
Cava comes from the Catalan vineyards centered in the town of Sant Sadurni d’ Anoia. Some other notable areas include Navarra, Rioja, and Valencia. Cava is made by the traditional method and it must spend at least nine months on the lees.
Popular Cava Producers
Cava DO (denominacion de origen) is the official classification of Cava. It can be produced throughout Spain but most Cava is made in Penedes (next to Barcelona) and in the Ebro River valley (in Rioja). There are now close to 200 producers registered with the Cava Consejo Regulador.
What Grapes is Cava Made From?
Cava is a Sparkling wine of Denominación de Origen status from Spain, made using the traditional method. It comes in white or rosé, and the main grape varieties used are Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel·lo
Macabeu is the primary grape used in all Cava production. Despite its importance, Macabeu tastes somewhat simple. It has faint floral aromatics, a lemony flavor with a slightly bitter finish that tastes similar to green almonds.
Xarel·lo (sounds like ‘Cheryl-ooh’) on the other hand, is much more aromatic with rich floral aromas and pear/melon-like notes.
The Paralleda grape is blended for its ripping high acidity and zesty citrus flavors. Together these Spanish grapes create a fruity sparkling wine that is less sweet than Prosecco.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were more recently added to the permitted grape varieties of the appellation and many producers have found that these varieties can add extra levels of fruit and acidity.
Of course, these two additions have caused controversy in the region as some of the producers believe that it detracts from Cava.
How is Cava Made?
Cava wine is made the same way that Champagne is produced, but with different grapes. Cava is made using the “Traditional Method” (also known as the “Méthode Champenoise” or “Méthode Classique”). This is exactly the same way that Champagne is made in France.
What is the Difference Between Cava and Champagne?
You can only call a bottle of bubbly Champagne if it actually comes from Champagne, France.
Champagne and Cava are made from different grape varieties.
Cava wine and Champagne both have yeast added to them and are left to age so that flavors can develop. Champagne and Cava both have different aging times.
Champagne needs to be aged for a minimum of fifteen months for the best flavors and aromas. Cava needs less time but is usually aged for nine months.
The shorter aging time means that Cava wine will be less expensive than Champagne.
Most Cava is non-vintage and is ready to drink on release. The wines are generally lower in acidity than most champagne, making them more easy drinking
There are some premium Cavas that have undergone extensive lees aging.
Is Cava dry or sweet?
Cava sparkling wine that is usually low in sugar. Most Cava is dry with medium acidity with some added character from yeast autolysis.
Cava Brut & Brut Nature Cava
Brut Nature is used to indicate the driest style of sparkling wine, with no sugar added. The style that is growing in popularity is Brut Nature Cava due to its lower calorie levels
- Brut Nature: 0-3 g/l residual sugar
- Extra Brut: 0-6 g/l residual sugar
- Brut: 0-12 g/l residual sugar
- Semi Seco: 12-17 g/l R.S. (aka Extra-Dry )
Types of Cava Wine
A minimum of 9 months aging on the lees (identical to most French Crémant-style wines).
A minimum of 15 months aging on the lees (the same requirement as non-vintage Champagne).
A minimum of 30 months aging on the lees, vintage dated, and available as Brut Nature, Extra Brut, or Brut only. (similar to Vintage Champagne!)
Cava Paraje Calificado
Aged for a minimum of 36 months on the lees, vintage-dated, and available as Brut Nature, Extra Brut, or Brut only. Additionally, wines must be estate bottled and from qualified single vineyards with vines older than 10 years.
To make Pink Cava it is common to use Spanish Garnacha (Grenache) for its berry aromas as well as Monastrell (Mourvedre) for its pink hue and peachy floral aromas. Pinot Noir is also becoming a popular grape to use although it isn’t a traditional grape.
Vintage and Aged Cava
Vintage and aged Cava is not common although more producers are aging their wines. Cava aged on lees has flavors of baked apple and almonds. It is nutty and toasty.
Most of the vintage and aged Cava wines are being made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, these are used to make Champagne. Although not true to Spanish Cava tradition, it is becoming popular with producers.
What Does Cava Wine Taste Like?
Cava is a dry sparkling wine that is light to medium-bodied with flavors citrus with some minerality and acidity. Cava wine that is aged longer on the lees develops beautiful toasty and nutty aromas.
Have you tried Cava wine?
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