July 12, 2022
Karin Rockstad, Spanish translator/English editor, WSET Educator, SWS, FWS, Albariño Ambassador, Certified Advanced Cava Educator
To celebrate International Cava Day, here is a little bit of information about the new regulations that came into effect at the beginning of this year.
Cava de Guarda. This category of Cava must be aged a minimum of 9 months on the lees. This is a fruit-forward sparkling wine.
Cava de Guarda Superior. Within this quality tier, there are three designations:
Reserva: aged a minimum of 18 months.
Gran Reserva: aged a minimum of 30 months.
Cava de Paraje Calificado: aged a minimum of 36 months and from a single site.
Also notable in this category is that all vineyards must be organic by 2025, vineyards must be at least 10 years old, and yields are restricted. These wines show the characteristics of the particular grape varieties used but also more autolytic nuances from the extended time on the lees.
You'll start to see one of the four new color-coded labels on bottles. It will have the quality tier, the zone or sub-zone of production, and a quality assurance code. The sugar level (Brut, Extra Brut, etc.) will continue to be stated, as well as vintage.
Zones and Sub-zones:
The bulk of Cava has traditionally been made in the Penedès region in northeast Spain, but was and is made in other areas of the country. Now, the zone must be stated on the label. These main zones are:
Comtats de Barcelona (the traditional area)
Ebro Valley (the Ebro River valley)
Viñedos de Almendralejo (southwestern Spain in Extremadura)
Levante Zone (eastern Spain near Valencia)
The first two are also divided into sub-zones, which will also be stated on the label.
The authorized grapes continue to be Macabeo (Viura), Xarello, Parellada, Chardonnay, Garnacha Tinta (Grenache), Subirat Parent (Malvasía), Trepat, Pinot Noir, and Monastrell (Mourvèdre or Mataró).
To get even more detail on the new regulations or to see some great recipes to pair with the different Cavas out there, see the D.O. Cava's website.
It's great to celebrate International Cava Day, but pour yourself a glass anytime! Cheers! ¡Salud!