A BRIEF HISTORY
Within the long and compelling universal history of vines and wine, Cava represents modernity, the exaltation of the art of winemaking and a compendium of what winemakers have learned over the course of the centuries.
Tradition dictates that the “invention” of sparkling wine is attributed to Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Perignon. In fact, “invention” is not really the correct term, because sparkling wines have always existed, but the merit goes to Dom Perignon for having studied the phenomenon carefully and having improved the preparation technique of these wines by developing the “coupage” or blending of the wines. The application of two other innovations, important for the conservation of the bubbles, are also attributed to him: the cork lid and the strong glass bottle.
In Catalonia it is important to mention as predecessors of the Cava industry Agustí Vilaret, from Blanes, a producer, and Lluís Justo i Villanueva, a chemistry teacher at the Catalan Agricultural Institute of Sant Isidre, who defended the classical production method.
The year 1872 is considered as the starting date of sparkling wine production in the Penedès, at the Can Codorníu estate. Sant Sadurní d’Anoia and its surrounding vicinity were the core of that incipient industry in expansion, which, years later, would become the most representative and successful sector of Catalan viticulture.
THE VINES ANDTHE GRAPES
Cava came into existence, among other reasons, due to the radical transformation of the Penedès vineyards following the phylloxera invasion. The change of varieties with the introduction of quality white varieties to replace red varieties made possible the renewal of the winemaking industry.
Once more, it became evident that the quality and distinct personality of a wine begins in the vineyard.
The classic trio of grape varieties for making Cava is formed by Macabeu, Xarel•lo and Parellada. The prestige, quality and success of Cava is based on these three main varieties, which have been joined by other non-local varieties – equally of proven suitability for winemaking – such as Chardonnay, Subirat and Malvasia Riojana and the red varieties Garnacha, Monastrell, Pinot Noir and Trepat, the latter two only authorised for producing rosé Cavas.
Each of these varieties imbues the wine with special characteristics that strengthen and complement the properties of the others, and are the origin of the practice of the “coupage”.
TYPES OF CAVA
Accoding to the amount of sugar that it contains, Cava is classed as:
- Brut Nature: no added sugar
- Extra Brut: up to 6 grams of sugar per litre
- Brut: up to 15 grams
- Extra sec: between 12 and 20 grams
- Sec: between 17 and 35 grams
- Semisec: between 33 and 50 grams
- Dolç: over 50 grams
Cava is especially tasty and stimulating if drunk at aperitif time, when the taste buds are clean and expectant. It is also a wine for pairing with all the dishes of any meal, whether simple or banquet-style: from seafood through to desserts, and including more traditional roasts, you will find the perfect kind of Cava for accompanying it.
It is the wine for toasting and celebration, and, therefore, the wine for the grand moments of our lives. But it is also a wine for intimacy that can be drunk in the late afternoon, when everything is beginning, and at the end of the day, when everything is possible. For that reason, Cava moments are always magical.