Having some knowledge on cava‘s elaboration and classification can be a great help when choosing one. This product, created and developed in the shadow of champagne, has reached maturity as a quality sparkling wine with style and uniqueness.
It is its thorough elaboration method and the aromas of the land which grant a unique identity to each of these wines elaborated under the Designation of Origin Cava.
Serving a glass of cava Flickr
The origin of its production is found mainly in Catalonia by the hand of Josep Raventós, from the winery Codorníu, located in Penedés, the ultimate Cava production area. Buying cava Recaredo or buying cava Gramona, among many others, means getting the taste of the region to our palate. However, the Designation of Origin Cava includes seven other Spanish regions: Aragón, La Rioja, Navarra, Basque Country, Castilla y León, Extremadura and Valencia.
Although the elaboration method, la méthode champenoise, is basically the same both for cava and for champagne, these sparkling wines have become very distant relatives with very little in common. Buying Möet & Chandon has become one alternative more: the grape variety used, influenced by very different physical and chemical realities, such as sunshine, rainfalls and the vineyards’ soils, provide essential differences to cava and champagne. Another difference is found in the ageing, which ranges between a minimum of one year in the case of champagne and nine months in the case of cava.
The beginning of cava is the end of wine. Once alcoholic fermentation is completed, the resulting wine is bottled and yeast and sugar are added, which provokes a second fermentation during which carbon dioxide appears. During this careful process, the bottle of the new-born cava goes through different elaboration stages. It is first stored in horizontal position and progressively inclined. The bottle will daily be turned 45º. After a period, the bottle neck, in which the dregs are cumulated, is frozen and the ice plug is extracted thanks to the pressure in the bottle. In this way, the residues are eliminated. All of this process takes place in the wine cellars known as cavas, after which the D.O. is named. Finally, the expedition liquor is added (wine with added sugar or cava) which provides the last aromatic hints to the cava and replaces the content lost in the disgorging. After this, the cork and the wire-cap typical of cava bottles are placed.
Dom Perignon, the first champagne producer, started using cork stoppers in wine bottles. The pressure produced inside the bottle of cava is comparable to the pressure in a lorry’s tyre. This made ordinary wine bottles explode and the sealing wax corks used in the past were expelled. That is why, the bottles of cava have a special thickness and a cork stopper, which is originally perfectly cylindrical, is used.
When tasting a good cava, the most convenient is to uncork the bottle slowly in order to lose the minimum amount of foam possible, since bubbles bear the aromas acquired by the wine. It is recommended serving it in flute glasses, filled to a maximum of two thirds in order to keep cava at the optimal tasting temperature: 5 to 8ºC.
The wide offer available provides countless alternatives.
Depending on the maximum quantity of sugar content:
- Brut Nature: 3 grams per litre (without added sugar).
- Extra Brut: 6 grams per litre.
- Brut: 12 grams per litre.
- Extra Seco: 17 grams per litre.
- Seco: 32 grams per litre.
- Semiseco: 50 grams per litre.
- Dulce: more than 50 grams per litre.
According to the ageing:
- Gran Reserva: more than 30 month ageing.
- Reserva: 15 to 30 month ageing.
- Young: 9 to 15 month ageing.
And we cannot forget mentioning rosé cava, elaborated with red grape varieties.
Buying cava is still linked to special occasions. Nevertheless, the wide range of cavas nowadays available allows meeting diverse needs at any kind of event.
Which is the best cava? Certainly, there is a best cava for every single palate.