Cava: Spain’s Sparkling Wine Treasure

Even if you’ve never heard of any other Spanish wine, chances are you’ve heard about cava.  This is due to the huge international presence of cava sparkling wines.  Freixenet and Cordoníu are the two best-known producers of cava and both wineries have done a marvelous job of marketing Spain’s sparkling wines outside of their home country.  In fact, Spain exports more than half of the sparkling wines it produces, according to the Peñin Guide to Spanish Wine 2007.

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Geography
You may wonder where the Cava DO is located, and the answer is complex.  Cava is actually a wine region without a region.  Cava DO wines can be made wherever the cava method is used, and wherever cava-designated vineyards are located.  This means that the DO is spread among 160 towns in seven of Spain’s political regions.  However, most cavas are made in Cataluña, specifically in the Penedès area.  The heart of Spain’s cava production is Sant Sadurní d’Anoia; 75 percent of all cavas produced in Spain come from this area in southern Barcelona province.  The Ebro Valley is also home to many cava vineyards.

Because the DO is located in many different areas, it’s nearly impossible to characterize its climate, soils or geography.  Most of the designated cava vineyards enjoy a Mediterranean or Continental climate.

Cava Grape Varieties
Traditionally, three grape varieties were used in cava production: Macabeo (viura), xarel.lo (pansà blanca) and parellada.  Today, you can also find cava wines made from chardonnay and subirat parent white wine grapes as well as the red varieties garnacha, monastrell, trepat and pinot noir.  Trepat and pinot noir grapes may only be used in rosado wines.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.