Cava, a refreshing drink originally produced in 1870 in the outskirts of Barcelona, is one of the best-known sparkling wines around the world.
The word has two meanings: if named “la cava” in femenine, it means wine cellar. If named “el cava”, a masculine word even if it also ends on an “a”, it means it means sparkling wine. e.g.: bebemos el cava dentro la cava (we drink cava inside a wine cellar).
Although cava is produced in several official areas throughout Spain, it is mostly produced within the borders of the green and serene wine producing Penedès region, only 45 minutes drive from Barcelona.
This sparkling Spanish wine has a particular flavour and due to the essential mix of three local grapes varieties it is usually made of and each contributing to a particular characteristic:
- Perellada´s offers freshness and aroma
- Macabeu sweetness and perfume
- Xarello conveys structure and body
The process used in making this sparkling wine is the ”Método Tradicional” or “Méthode Champenoise”, exactly the same for producing champagne. Only cava and champagne use this double fermentation long procedure, which takes from months to years, which reflects on the flavour.
Why double? Grape juice becomes wine and then, wine becomes sparkling wine by adding yeast and a tiny bit of sugar, which the yeast eats, producing trapped bubbles along the way. Then, the riddling process begins.
Riddling is when the bottle placed at 45° angle in a pupitre and is carefully turned 1/8th every day, over a period of days or weeks, increasing the angle until the bottle is upside down. This task has been automated by placing the bottles in a gyropalette cage, which is then moved as a whole.
Disgorging is the removal of the yeast by means of frizzing the bottle neck, removing it in form of an ice cube, top up as needed, adding a little extra sugar in some cases in the dosage step to then, place a cork which will remain in the bottle.
Cava varieties range from Sweet and Brut Reserve to neutral Brut and dry Brut Nature. The main difference between champagne and cava with Italian prosecco and asti, is that the Italian wine do not do the double fermentation process, but are injected with CO₂ instead.