I should have written this a while ago but better late than never says the mother of two small children.
In June this year Consejo Regulador del Cava decided on a new classification to help us consumers understand that there is true quality to be found in Cava. Something many Cava lovers (including myself) have been trying to explain to our fellow sparkling drinking friends.
Cava has a big problem in the fact that many people see it as an inexpensive alternative to Champagne. It’s not really a product in itself, but rather something that can act as a replacement when the wallet feels a bit thin. The lovers of Cava of course know better, because we have seen how the small scale producers work and have tried their wonderful sparkling wines. But these cavas get drowned in the massive quantity of cheep bubbles that flood the wine shelves of the world.
Some of the problems DO Cava has today;
-It’s not one region, even though 95% of all cava is made where it was once born. That is in Penedés and the Anoia valley. There is actually over 150 places in Spain that are allowed to make sparkling wine and call it cava!
-Nine grape varieties can be used, and not only the local ones traditionally used, but also Chardonnay and Pinot noir. I’m not personally against it, but it does make the “cava profile” very wide and hard to grasp. Some might say “what profile?”.
-Cava has no Grands Crus, Premiers Crus, no sub-regions, no clear system at all actually apart from the three aging categories where “Gran Reserva” is the oldest one. What about cavas aged longer than 30 months??
But to try to make the premium segment of cava clearer the regulatory board has now come up with “Cava de Paraje Calificado”. This basically means cava from one site or place. Not the most simple word to pronounce if your not native… but lets not get hung up on that.
The rules for Paraje:-All the nine varieties are allowed: Xarel-lo, Macabeu, Parellada, Malvasia/Subirat Parent, Chardonay, Garnaxa, Monastrel, Trepat and Pinot noir.
-Maximum yield of 8,000 kg/ha or 48 hl/ha
-36 months ageing in bottle
-Only vintage wines
-Only Brut (or dryer)
-The wine cannot be acidified, and it must have a natural acidity level of 5.5 g/l (measured in tartaric)
BUT a very important rule is that producers can only get cavas qualified for Paraje if they vinify 85% of their own wines. That means that many of the producers will be excluded just because they do not own enough of their own vi
nes. There are so far 24 producers interested in presenting cavas for this new classification, according to the latest news from the regulatory board.
There are a lot of challenges within the DO Cava for sure, but it is really good news that something is happening to make people understand Cava better!
A great visit in my opinion, is when you get the feeling that you are at home, and this was exactly what I felt when we went to HMR -Heretat Mont-Rubí, during our trip to Penedès this time. It is a rare feeling I must say.
This winery is up on about 600 meters above sealevle, in the mountain behind Guardiola de Font Rubí (If you know your way around Penes) 😉 and up there the view is just amazing. I can imagine that it is a bit cooler in the summer too, which is nice for both grapes and people.
We had a look at the grapes that had just been hanged in the shed next to the winery. These are to hang here until January, when they will be pressed and the very concentrated must will become “Advent”, which is HMR’s superb dessert wine. It had taken 2 weeks to hang all the grape bunches individually!
We also had a look when the winemaker, Josep, stirred in the tank where grapes were macerating. A short film of this can be seen on my Instagram account @thecavalady.
The tour continued and we ended with a tasting of there fantastic and very special wines. HMR are very focus on Garnaxa and Sumóll, the latter being a local grape. This makes their portfolio very special indeed. They also makes whites, and then based on Xarel.lo, that you all know well from traditional cava making. HMR does not make cava though, but keep to their wines.
E also liked the visit, but luckily the Ipad was brought along, so there was something more fun to do when the grownups could not stop talking when we were on our way to leave. 😉
And luckily the dog, Blanca, was a good friend to play with too.
We have for three years wanted to visit Castell D’Age with our friend Lars, but with kids and a limited time it just did not happen until today. But better late than never as they say.
We got a tour by the fantastic Olivia, who knows the winery inside out. This is not so strange since Olivia is the daughter of the family who owns and runs the company, and like her mother and grandmother has her own cava named after her. And a great cava at that!
Castell D’Age makes about 100 000 – 150 000 bottles a year and of this 80 percent is cava. They make all aging levels and both super dry brut nature and some sweater styles too.
They are fully biodynamic since about five years back, and Olivia tells us that it has made a huge difference in the vine yards, with the biodiversity and health in the vines. It must be working since their cavas are very nice and definately something I would happily recommend to any cava fan.
My favorite is funny enough the Olivia. But I really recommend you to try for yourself because the chance that you might find it where you live is pretty good, since 70 % of all the cava Castell D’Age produce goes on export, so their spread is pretty large. You can get more information on their website. http://castelldage.com/
It is just to good to be true, but soon we are off to Penedès! Saturday we leave to see the friends again.
I have had regular report about the harvest, but it will be nice to see the end of it with my own eyes. This last week many of the producers were harvesting parellada while the weather was bit shaky. But what I heard most of it was good and not effected by the rain.
I promise to give you as much news as possible while we are there. The safest news stream from me will be Instagram, since it is so easy and I know how you all enjoy news through pictures. 🙂
This Monday I saw a lot of friends at the Spanish wine days in Stockholm. I must say that it is very practical to be able to see so many people at the same time. I got to taste some new interesting things as well and my youngest (3 months now), got to “enjoy his first wine fair. I think the older one was about the same age when she got to visit her first fair. 😉
Among the happy events was that I had the pleasure to see my friend Lotten that works for Freixenet here in Stockholm. She is just the best and I had not seen her for a long time. Between all the catching up I got to taste their new Sangria that is fresh out of the Mia-series made by Gloria Collell. I do make my own sangria normally, but I can really see why this ready-to-drink-sangria is going really well here in sweden, and that it soon will have its own listing at the monopoly. Fresh, fruity and not overly sweet. Of course it is sweet because sangria is suposed to be, but less than I was expecting. There is both a red and a white for 79 SEK if I remember correctly. I only tried the white, that is made from macabeu grapes and juice from both lemon and orange. Really perfect to ad to the picnic basket I’d say!
Gramona was also represented by their wonderful importer, Terrificwines. Anderas is truly passionate about the wines he represents and had a crowd around him constantly. We could catch up a tiny bit at least and I could taste Gramona Imperial 2011, which is the latest vintage that I had not yet tried. No disappointments there. Gramona delivers every time.
I also had the pleasure to see the representative of Castell D’Age, Olivia, that I have long since wanted to meet. So now finally when we go down for cavaTast we will make a visit to the winery, and I promise you a full report. Castell D’Age has really nice caves that are all ecologic which is always a plus.
Last but not least I got once again try the wonderful caves of house Torelló, that has FINALLY come to Sweden thanks to the importer Lancell. Thank you thank you thank you! I can’t say anything else than that I love what they do.
It is not easy going to a fair with a 3 month old baby, but I must say that he was a real champion! But one hour was more than enough before we headed home.
Now I’m preparing him and his sister for all the wonderful wine visits we will do ones we are back in Penedés. If I’m lucky they just might like it and grow up to be winemakers themselves! 😉