The New Sparkling Wine Taking on Champagne

Spain is about to “take on” France in the realm of world-class sparkling wine.

France has always taken Champagne-making seriously, and has worked diligently to protect the “Champagne” designation in the global wine marketplace. As a result, with rare exceptions, a sparkling wine may not carry the “Champagne” designation on its label unless it was made in France’s Champagne appellation.

Now, Spain is taking steps to elevate its Cava sparkling wine by introducing a “Single Estate Cavas” designation. According to the Wines from Spain Trade Commission, to qualify for this new designation, a Cava must:

  • Be made with grapes grown on vines that are at least 10 years old.
  • Come from vineyards that are harvested by hand (not machine) with a maximum yield of 8,000-kg. per hectare.
  • Be estate fermented and vinified with a maximum output of 48 hectoliters per hectare.
  • Be fermented in bottle and aged for at least 36 months.
  • Obtain certification demonstrating the “path” of the base wine from the vine to the store shelf.

Pedro Bonet, President of the Regulatory Board of DO Cava, says, “The new ‘Cava de Paraje Calificado’ designation is ideal for positioning Cava at the top of the qualitative wine pyramid and for doing justice to this incredible sparkling wine. As far as the Cava category is concerned, this new designation represents a step toward giving visibility to the singular excellence in the production of sparkling wines made in the traditional method.”

In other words, it’s a way of elevating Cava in the minds of consumers. A list of the first producers to embrace the new designation was expected to be released this spring. Within a few years, we should be able to enjoy these exciting sparkling wines — a few of which are already being made, by the way, but simply lack the official designation.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to enjoy the wonderful sparkling wines of Champagne, and raise a glass to the success of Spain’s ”Single Estate Cavas” initiative. After all, good sparkling wine, regardless of its place of origin, is always a special treat.

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Posted in Wine Buzz, Wine in the Glass
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