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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Can Cava Be Produced Anywhere in Spain?

Cava is a name that is known around the world and most people will point to Spain when asked about its origins. Many might assume that Cava production is widespread across all of Spain, similar to the freedom champagne grapes enjoy throughout the Champagne region of France. However, this isn’t the case. Cava production is governed by strict geographical indications. This guide will explore everything you need to know about it – so pour a glass of Cava and enjoy!

Geographical Indications

Spain is a vast and diverse country with an array of wine regions, known as Denominación de Origen (DO). Not all regions are equipped to produce Cava. The heartland of Cava territory is found in the Penedès, a region in the province of Barcelona. Other areas with significant Cava production are located in Catalonia, Valencia, Aragón, and La Rioja.

These regions are specially recognized for their contribution to the character of Cava. The microclimates in these areas influence the grapes, and the traditions of local wine-making lend unique aspects to the final product. Government and industry bodies worked to ensure that the term “Cava” reflects not just a style of wine, but a specific location and method of production.

Climate and Soil Requirements

The fact is that Cava can only be produced in its perfected state thanks to the climate and land. Cava production’s success depends on a continental Mediterranean climate, characterised by hot, dry summers and mild winters with rain. The precipitation should be evenly distributed throughout the year to sustain vine growth.

The soil is typically composed of limestone, ensuring good drainage for the vine roots. These calcareous soils, alongside the vineyard elevation, play a significant role in developing the fruits’ flavours at the ideal pace leading up to harvest.

Grape Varieties

Cava is primarily made with Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel·lo; three Spanish grapes that have become synonymous with the sparkling wine. This unique combination gives Cava its characteristic body, acidity, and light fruit flavours. Additionally, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have been permitted in recent years, offering new possibilities for winemakers to craft diverse styles of Cava.

While these grapes grow in other parts of Spain, their collective presence in Cava-making regions is what grants the wine its distinctive ‘DO’.

Other Spanish Sparkling Wines

While Cava is the most well-known of Spanish sparkling wines, it’s not alone in its category. Other notable varieties include:

  • Espumoso: The generic term for Spanish sparkling wine, which can be made anywhere in Spain.
  • Vino de Aguja: A less sparkly wine, but often confused due to its similar appearance.
  • Cava de Paraje Calificado: A more prestigious designation within Cava, highlighting the specific terroir and winemaking within Spain’s DO criteria.

Understanding these distinctions provides an exciting entry point into the world of Spanish wine and what sets Cava apart in its diverse landscape.

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