Salud! Spain takes on France with a new upmarket classification for cava
Cava producers in Spain have announced a new high-end classification for the sparkling wine in order to give it a more upmarket reputation.
The wine is one of Spain's most successful exports, with producers making 250 million bottles a year, more than half of which are snapped up by some 130 countries. But its status has suffered and generally cava is not considered to be in the same league as champagne. To that end producers have launched a new category – cava de paraje calificado (single-vineyard cava) – reserved for only the finest examples of the wine. The classification is yet to be signed off by Spain’s agriculture ministry, but bottles will cost between €40–100.
Qualifying wines must adhere to criteria, including being made on the estate and from vines that are at least ten years old, and being allowed to age in the bottle for at least three years. High-end cavas are already a regular fixture in upscale restaurants and shops in Spain.
In recent years, both champagne and cava have lost business to rival Italian sparkling wine prosecco. But while champagne and cava are entirely fermented in the bottle, prosecco generally has a second fermentation in a large tank. Wine expert Sarah Jane Evans told the Guardian that cava is “made like champagne is and I think many people forget that. It is a more expensive process.” She believes that consumers will be willing to pay more for top-end cavas: “It’s carefully made – often handmade – from a special vineyard and it will have a very individual taste of the place where it comes from,” she says. “I think we’re all looking, at that price, for memorable wines. And in that category, you can find some very memorable wines.”
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