The Regulatory Board for Sparkling Wines – equivalent to that of the Designation of Origin – was constituted in 1972. When Spain joined the European Union, cava was acknowledged to be a quality sparkling wine produced in a specific region. So in 1991 specific regulations are enacted for the new designation. In 1993 the first Cava Regulatory Board was constituted.
Authorized grape varieties are:
White: the main ones are Macabeo, Xarel·lo and Parellada. And together with them, Chardonnay.
Red: Garnacha and Monastrell.
Roses: Pinot Noir and Trepat are also authorized.
Once wine has been obtained from different grape varieties, second fermentation starts, which can be described as follows:
1. Tirage. The bottle is filled up with cuvée and wine yeasts, sucrose or concentrated grape must. Yeasts consume sugar and cause a second fermentation. Bottles are kept for at least 9 months, in a horizontal position.
2. Stirring. Bottles are shaken so that yeasts sediment moves to the bottle neck.
3. Disgorging. The cava bottle is opened to remove sediments, with a minimum loss of sparkling wine.
4. Corking. Initial volume is recovered. It is the moment to add some additional liqueur, like must or sweet wine. The bottle is definitively corked.
5. Labelling and packing. Laying of capsule, label, counter label and control seal.
Cava can be Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Dry, Semi Dry, and Sweet.
The Cava production area consists of 160 municipalities from 7 Autonomous Communities. Most of these municipalities are in the Catalan wine making area: 67 in the area of Barcelona, 52 in the area of Tarragona, 12 in the area of Lleida and 5 in the area of Girona.
The rest of the areas, also in the North of the Spanish peninsula are: 23 municipalities from Rioja, 2 from Aragon and one to the South-East (Valencia) plus another one to the South-West (Badajoz).
Penedes is a winemaking area, 30 miles South of Barcelona, gathering more than 95% of the total CAVA production. Sant Sadurní d’Anoia clearly stands out because its companies make more than 75% of the 200,000,000 bottles of CAVA a year.
The traditional Penedes area has a great soil variety due to the geological and topographical diversity. Vine growing is common in the central area, far from the Mediterranean coast and protected by the Montserrat Mountains. Soils are limy, half-permeable to water. Climate is typically Mediterranean, bright and sunny, with soft winters and not too hot summers. All this, combined with a moderate rainfall distributed along the year, provides an optimal microclimate for vine growing and grape ripening.
Very good: 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005.
Good: 1995, 1997