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The diversity within the DO Cava is both a blessing and a curse, and many people working with cava would agree on this. I choose to see the positive side. So what is actually so great about it?
Well let me explain…
The biggest reason for the great diversity among cava is the fact that nine grape verities that can be used, more to choose form right there. Xarel.lo, macabeu and parellada are the most common verities and make up the backbone in traditional blends. Many people would say that this trio is the soul of cava and what makes it so special. But you also have chardonnay and malvasia among the white grapes allowed. When it comes to the red verities there are trepat, garnacha, monastrell and of course the very popular pinot noir. Since it is now allowed to make blanc de noire also in the DO Cava, with trepat as only exception, the possibilities are many. In my opinion all these red grapes make a great spread of rosé cavas, from the elegant salmon pink to the fruity bright raspberry coloured, that can be enjoyed and used in combination to endless types of food.
The three age classes from the minimum ageing of nine months, to the reserva at a minimum of fifteen months and the gran reserva at thirty months or more, are also one aspect that widens the range of choice. Unfortunately many people only know the very young products and think that this is the only way to have cava. Numerous times I have met wine people and even fellow sommeliers that think that cava cannot be aged, and nothing could be further from the truth. Some even say that the local grapes don’t have the structure to age in a good way, and to those I can very much recommend a trip to the cava houses of Gramona, Recaredo, Juvé y Camps or Castell San Antoni, just to mention a few.
One other aspect that contributes to the wide spread of choice with in the cava family is the price range, and this is a very debated subject. Mass produced or high end, the choice is yours. I’m not saying that this wide spread is all good. But if you exclude the very cheapest bottles from the discussion, I do think it is great that you can find a cava that suits your taste, the occasion and your wallet. Because to be honest, most of us are not made of money and can’t drink 50 Euro bubbles every day, at least I can’t. And one thing that you can be sure of is that you very often get extremely good value for your money, since the land prices and production costs are so much lower in Penedès then say Champagne.
So my dear friends, if you have not already dived in to the sea of great cavas out there and enjoyed the diversity. I highly recommend you to do that as soon as possible and I’m absolutely positive you will find some favourites.
Cheers and happy hunting!
Many people often ask me; “It is a real cava trend right now isn’t’ it? I just see cava every where.”. I have to totally agree with them. I have these last years seen a steady trend here in Sweden and also experienced the same on social media. The interest for cava is growing, but I also think that with my own focus I tend to notice cava more since I’m already interested, and so does the people who ask me this question. But there are facts that support that there is actually a cava trend. Just look at all the restaurants that have started to serve cava by the glass and even advertise it outside. There are also specialized cava bars or “cava inspired bars”, that are popping up all over Europe. Even on the island Gotland outside Sweden’s east cost in a very small village called Ljugarn, you can find a very good one. So yes, cava is absolutely growing when it comes to popularity and trendiness. But this development has been going on for quite some time.
In 2000 a total of 196,7 million bottles of Cava were produced, of which 50 percent were consumed within Spain. In 2013 there were 241,4 million bottles produced. Not only has the production grown with almost 23 percent during this period, the consumption has also shifted. Now 66 percent is exported and enjoyed by us living outside Spain.
The biggest cava lovers, if we look at volume sold, are found in Germany, followed by the UK, Belgium and the US. Sweden holds place number ten, which I must say is quite good with barley 10 million people. Divided on the population Swedes drink about 0,3 bottles of cava annually, while the Germans who are the biggest importers drink half a bottle of cava per person a year. So maybe the love is not that much bigger in Germany than in Sweden… they are just more people.
Looking at statistics from Consejo Regulador del cava, one interesting thing is to see what type of cava we drink. Almost nine out of ten bottles of cava sold (and I presume consumed), fall in to the category of young cava, that is aged for a minimum of nine months. Only ten percent is aged for more than fifteen months and the production of Gran Reserva (aged minimum 30 months) is only two percent. So it is not strange that most people have an image of cava as young, uncomplicated and rather cheep.
On top of this the statistics show that importing countries don’t really like the really dry cavas, since almost half the bottles we buy are Brut, and 49% is Seco or Semi-Seco!
One might conclude that when it comes to cava outside Spain, what most people drink is approximately half a bottle of very young semi sweet cava a year… and on top of everything they then compare it with champagne! I rest my case.
Do you like me long for Spring?
I hate this cold, snow, ice and gloomy weather, so much that I have become totally addicted to tulips! Maybe because I can’t enjoy bubbles in the same way as before due to a growing belly. But I thouht I’d give you all some tips regarding nice bottles that might help you brighten up that gray winter day! All these bottles are also avalible at the swedish monopoly, for all you poor people that share my unfortunate situation of beeing stuck here in the snow.
Bombonetta by Jaume Giró i Giró,
This bottle is one of my long time favourites from the winemaker Ramón. It is a brut Gran Reserva aged for a minimum of 40 months.
Grapes: 38% Xarel.lo, 17% Parellada, 17 % Macabeu 15% Pinot Noir and 13% Chardonnay.
Wonderful fresh stye with flowers, nuts and baked goods in the nose. Great soft bubbles.
At the monopoly in Sweden you can now buy this bottle for 229 SEK, which is a GREAT price! (Special ordering segment nr: 77591) A real ”must buy”!
De Nit by Raventós i Blanc,
This sparkling wine (Raventós left DO Cava in 2012) gives me real spring feelings! It is a very pale rosé, that is super crisp and elegnat. I LOVE it! It is an extra brut Reserva aged for a minimum of 18th months.
Grapes: 42% macabeu, 37% xarel-lo, 14% parellada and 7% monastrell.
Super fresh with its white grape base, but with a rich fruity pallet that really makes you think of spring. And nothing makes you long for summer as a rosé!
Can be bought at the monopoly for 169 SEK. (Special ordering segment nr: 77423)
Olivia by Castell D’Age
If you are looking for something ecologic this cava is a great spring choise. It is actually aged in oak, which gives a little touch that I like. It is a Reserva brut nature, so no added sugar.
Grapes: 100% chardonnay.
This cava is my clear favourit from this house. It is fruity, with clear notes of bread from the ageing but those subtil oak notes realy make it that extra special.
It can be bought at the monopoly for 171 SEK. (Special ordering segment nr: 77169)
These are my three tips for right now!
Hope you like them!
I have not had a proper glass of cava for a very long time now. It sounds serious I know, but it is just a temporary thing. But none the less boring mind you! Why this abstinence you might wonder? Well I’m pregnant again.
Although I’m thrilled over the fact that our little family of three, will expand to four I must admit that being pregnant (although fantastic) is not as fun the second time around. I miss my bubbles! It’s not even that I drink every day or even every second day, it is that feeling of not having a choice that gets me. To sit back and enjoy a glass of cava after baby E has gone to bed, just talking to Andréas. Those wonderful dinners that he spends all that extra time cooking, are not the same and can’t fully blossom with just water to go with them. And not to mention all those new bottles in the cellar that I have never tried, that are now just waiting for me to get to the finish line. But I will get there at the end of May, don’t worry!
Last time when baby E came, we came to the hospital 13.00, E came 14.40 and we were home celebrating with bubbles at 23.00 that same evening. A very good day in every way I must say. Probably the best so far. Last time we opened a Sir Winston Churchill from 1999, so this time I have started to think about what to put on ice when the time comes. I think it might just be a Turó D’en Mota. But first I’m going to act “taxidriver” to Andreas and our friends for four more months! But who’s complaining, when you have something this special to look forward too?! Not me, not really.