Cava, is a “sparkling wine” produced using a centuries-old tradition carried on in the northern areas of Spain. A Cava is created using “methode champenoise”, or “Champagne method” which is the same method that is used to make Champagne. In the past, cava was referred to as Spanish champagne, which is no longer permitted under European Union law, since Champagne has Protected Geographical Status and Spain entered the European Union in 1986. Nearly 95 percent of Cava in Spain is made in the northwest region - in the Penedes area of Catalonia. With very small amounts being made by small producers in the rest of the country.
In order to carry the Cava label the wine must be made using the “methode traditional”, or traditional method and must age on lees in the bottle for a minimum of 9 months (18 months for Reservas, and 24 months for Gran Reservas). A true Cava always has a 4 pointed star on the base of the cork.
There are 6 types of D.O. Cava produced they include:
Extra Brut: These are the driest of the Cava's and contain 0-6 grams of sugar per liter.
Brut: 0-15 grams of sugar per liter.
Extra Seco: 12-20 grams of sugar per liter.
Seco: 17-35 grams of sugar per liter.
Semi Seco: 33-50 grams of sugar per liter.
Dulce: These are the sweetest of the Cava's and contain more than 50 grams of sugar per liter.
Cava was first produced by Josep Raventos Fatjo. Josep had been travelling throughout Europe promoting the wines of the Condorniu Winery. While there he visited the Champagne region and was interested to see if there methods of production would work with Spanish wines. In 1872 he produced the first “Cava”. His family introduced the first Cava to the public in around 1875 and it was an instant hit, especially with high society people. It's popularity has grown over the years and Cava is an important part of Spanish family tradition and is often consumed at celebrations such as Christmas, marriages and baptisms, much like champagne is used to celebrate in other countries.
D.O. Cava is tied more to the method of production of the wine than it is to the actual region where the wine is made. Currently there are 6 regions that are licensed to produce D.O Cava, these include 2 areas in Catalonia, with the Penedes being the largest, La Rioja, Extremadura, Valencia and Carinena.
Cava tends to have a perfume of ripe raspberries and strawberries, with floral undertones. With a creamy minerally texture and complex flavors of strawberry, raspberries and red cherry on the palate. They tend to have a crisp finish with good acidity. The sweetness of Cava can vary with amount of sugar added, with Extra Brut being the driest, through to Dulce which is the sweetest. Cava pairs well with any type of seafood and also goes nicely with Chinese and Thai dishes.