The DO Cava accounts for the lion's share of Spanish sparkling wine.

The DO Cava accounts for the lion's share of Spanish sparkling wine.
© Blai Carda Torne

Spain: The world of cava and co.

Iberian sparkling wine production stands for a long tradition, individual grape varieties and strong brands. The house of Freixenet has made Cava internationally famous.

With more than 200 million bottles regularly produced each year, Spain is one of the most important sources of quality sparkling wine in the world. The sparkling wines are produced almost exclusively under the Denominación de Origen Cava (DO Cava) quality designation, which was introduced in 1986. Even though around 96 percent of all cava production takes place in the Penedès wine-growing region to the west of Barcelona, the DO is not limited to a specific region of origin, but encompasses around 159 municipalities in Spain.

The requirements for the production of cava are comparable to those for crémant or champagne from France. Cava is always produced using traditional bottle fermentation, whereby Chardonnay, Garnatxa Negra, Trepat, Subirat Parent and Monastrell are permitted in addition to the classic Macabeu, Parellada and Xarello varieties. The maturation period on the lees is at least nine months for all cavas, two years for vintage cavas and at least 30 months for Gran Reservas. At the top of the Cava quality pyramid are the Cava de Paraje Calificado launched in 2017, which come from classified single vineyards with vines at least ten years old and must mature on the lees for at least 36 months.

Stricter rules

However, some of the world's best-known Spanish sparkling wines, such as Gramona or Recaredo, have not been produced under the DO Cava for some years now. Gramona, Recaredo and other well-known sparkling wine producers from the Penedès region left the DO in 2019 to form the Corpinnat association. It has imposed its own strict rules, including minimum prices for grape suppliers. The minimum ageing periods for sparkling wines in traditional bottle fermentation range from 18 to 60 months.

Medium golden yellow with green reflections. Intense nose of fresh baked goods, roasted pineapple, yellow kiwi, stone fruit ripened with air. The finest mousse nestles creamy, full-bodied on the palate, delicate, powerful acidity, lots of extract with a mineral character. Tasty finish of salted caramel. Rich in finesse and complex. Great!
Penedès, Spain
Rich, intense golden yellow. Subtle notes of blossom honey, fresh yeast, lardo, touch of fresh apple cider and vanilla. Bone-dry on the palate, straightforward, crisp acidity with a very fine mousse. Extremely long finish with tart notes of grapefruit and dried Garrigue herbs, polarising. A top-class cava for all natural wine lovers.
Pale white gold with green reflections. Very fine nose of Greengage plums, flat peach, fresh herbs and yeast notes. Fine foam on the palate, lively, refreshing acidity with a salty finish. Harmonious, balanced with a long finish of green pear and citrus zest. A great accompaniment to light fish dishes.
Penedès, Spain

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Dominik Vombach
Dominik Vombach
Chefredaktion Schweiz
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