Since the popularity explosion of Prosecco and subsequent meteoric rise in sales, the sparkling wine industry has also experienced an amazing sales increase for other types of sparkling wine. At Premier Estates Wine, we have recently had a fantastic amount of interest in our award winning Spanish Cava, for instance. In light of this building excitement around our product, we thought it might be useful for our customers to be able to find out a little more about how Cava is made and what makes it so different from other sparklers.
Where does our Cava sparkling wine come from?
Our Cava is produced in Castellvi de la Marca; a beautiful little town which is not far from Barcelona in the province of Catalonia, north-eastern Spain. The amazing vineyards here in the Penedès Spanish wine making region, produce some of most amazing grapes that are used to make this Spanish sparkler. The vast experience of the vineyard management teams and the reliably mild, temperate weather conditions of the region have resulted in wonderful grape crops year after year.
Which varieties of grapes are used to make Cava Sparkling Wine?
The Premier Estates Wine production team use a carefully refined blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada grapes to produce our particular product. These grape varieties are mostly grown in the Catalonia region of Spain for the production of Cava but are also used in the production of white wines which have a slightly higher acidity as they are more suitable for early consumption or for blending with other grape varieties. These three grape varieties are renowned for their wines being less susceptible to oxidation and tend to be used in young white wines.
The influence of sun, rainfall and chemical composition of the Catalonian vineyard soil on these grapes, is what makes Cava so very different from Champagne or Prosecco in terms of taste, aroma and bouquet.
Which wine production method is used to make Cava?
The elaboration method, or "la méthode champenoise", is the traditional production method for Spanish Cava. Only sparkling wine produced using this process can actually use the word "Cava" on the product label, according to strict Spanish sparkling wine making guidelines.
The process is an extension to the regular wine making procedure and takes place over a minimum of around 9 months. Following the alcoholic fermentation of the wine, it is then bottled and a carefully measured amount of yeast and sugar are added to the bottled liquid. This results in a secondary fermentation process which produces the carbon dioxide that makes Cava a sparkling wine. The amount of yeast and sugar added controls the level of effervescence in the wine. This part of the production process is very carefully monitored. At first, the bottles are stored horizontally and they then go through the elaboration stages, which gives the process its name, as the bottles are tilted with the Cava bottle neck angled downwards. The bottles are rotated on a daily basis, by roughly 45 degrees as the dregs begin to accumulate in the bottle neck.
After a period of time, all the sediment in the wine has gathered in the top of the bottle neck and this part of the liquid is frozen and the resulting ice plug is then easily removed due to the pressure building up in the bottle and so the sediment is taken out of the Cava leaving a clean, clear liquid. This step is known as “disgorging”.
The last step in the Cava production process is the addition of expedition liquor which replaces liquid content lost during the disgorging process step and adds aromatic hints and subtleties to the resulting Cava. The cork stopper and wire cap are then added to the bottles. The wire cap attachment is critical for Cava, as the pressure building up inside the bottle is similar to the pressure of air in a lorry tyre. This is why the Cava bottle glass is so thick and the bottle so heavy. A regular thickness wine bottle would simply explode under the pressure.
Storing Cava and Opening a bottle
Sparkling wines are renowned for their liveliness when opened and obviously you wouldn’t want to lose too much Cava when you remove the cork, so we recommend opening the bottle slowly and carefully and having a glass ready to catch Cava which will be eager to get out of the bottle. The bubbles hold the Cava aromas, so you don’t want to sacrifice too much foam. The ideal tasting temperature for Cava is between 5 and 8ºC, so storage in a standard refrigerator is recommended.
Award Winning Cava from Premier Estates Wine
The ultimate aim of our sparkling wine production team when refining the production process of our Spanish Cava, was to produce a wine with an amazing taste and consuming sensation that was still competitively priced and affordable for our loyal customer base. A phenomenal amount of effort went into this process and we firmly believed that we achieved our goal. In order to confirm our achievement and to gain an independent, expert opinion of our product, we submitted our product to the highly prestigious and well regarded International Wine Challenge (IWC), International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) and also the Decanter World Wine Awards. We were overwhelmed by the positive response to our Cava which gained a silver Decanter World Wine award and bronze awards from both the IWSC and the IWC. Our Cava was up against some serious competition from some of the best wine makers in the world and each of these competitions involves a blind tasting session and judging by some of the world’s most respected wine experts. Our successes provide our customers with an independent verification of the high quality of our Cava which has proved to be invaluable when it comes to attracting new customers to our brand.
We won’t be resting on our laurels though; our team continues to work hard on our Spanish Cava and its production process and we will be aiming for further success in the near future.