And The Grapes Are, Save Your Soul in D.O. Cava

301/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – Torrelavit – Segura Viudas – Brut Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad

Save Your Soul……..,

564Brut Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad, 67% Macabeu and 33% Parellada

This premium Cava is one of the best in its class! The balance between elegance, ripe fruit and the aging being its distinctive features. The vinous, distinctive flavor, full aroma and a delicate finish put it on a level of quality Cavas which can only be referred to as Super Catalan Cava. Bright golden color with fine bubbles. Complex on the nose, aroma of lees, nuts and herbs. Powerful entry, rich in the mouth and a great acidity. Fine bitter ending. Food Cava of the best kind presented in a very special bottle.


Let’s take a moment and have a look at the specifics of Cava, Cava making and the grapes that are used and of course, allowed according to the rules of the appellation. The origins of Cava are associated with the splendour of Catalan wine production during the mid-nineteenth century and the fame of Champagne at the end of the eighteenth century. The fermentation process that Louis Pasteur developed in his microbiological studies was adopted as part of the second fermentation in the bottle, while the discovery that cork preserved the bubbles was made during this stage. This was the birth of the traditional production method.


During the nineteenth century, several families in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia started researching this new production technique and applied it to crops in the zone. As a result of their studies and trials, linked to the prestigious Instituto Agrícola Catalán Sant Isidre, they used this on autochthonous white grape varieties. This was the birth of Cava, which has a specific identity that makes it different from all other top-quality sparkling wines.

During the twenties, Cava became established in the Spanish market, achieving high growth in the sixties and its international consolidation in the eighties. Nowadays it is one of the most dynamic, prosperous wine-producing sectors, producing more than 200 million bottles every year for consumers all over the world. This sparkling wine is produced using the traditional method that has created its own identity through the decades as a result of factors such as the use of autochthonous grapes and the mild climate of the growing region. Its personality has been so successful that Cava is currently sold in more than 120 countries worldwide. The term Cava is derived from the Catalan word for the caves (or cellars) where it is traditionally aged and stored.


The Penedés wine-producing region, 40 kilometres south of Barcelona, is where 95% of the total Cava production takes place. Cava’s specific characteristics originate in the traditional historical zone in terms of classic viticulture and production conditions. However, Cava is also produced in other regions of Catalonia (Girona, Lleida and Tarragona), as well as some areas in the Autonomous Regions of La Rioja, Aragon, Navarra, the Basque Country, Valencia and Extremadura. In total it is produced in 159 municipalities from around 32,000 hectares of vines. 

Because of its geographical and orographic diversity, the traditional zone of the Penedès has a large variety of soils. Wines are grown in the central zone, far from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and protected by the mountains of Montserrat. Soils are calcareous, with a medium permeability. The climate is typically Mediterranean, luminous and sunny. Winters are mild and summers are not too hot. All this, together with moderate rainfall spread out throughout the year, produces an optimum microclimate for cultivating the vine and ripening the grapes.


The wine makers around the corner prefer to make the Brut Nature, without adding expedition liqueur, as the local market prefer this type of Cava. But the Brut as well as the Semiseco have over the past few years increased in production, mostly because of the demands from the export markets. The levels of added expedition liqueur or sugar are as follows; Brut Nature: no added sugar, Extra Brut: up to 6 grams of sugar per liter, Brut: up to 15 grams of sugar per liter, Extra Seco: between 12 and 20 grams per liter, Seco: between 17 and 35 grams per liter, Semiseco: between 33 and 50 grams per liter and finally Dulce: more than 50 grams per liter. There’s a Cava for every taste!

The main grape varieties are: Xarel·lo, Macabeo and Parellada together with Chardonnay and Subirat Parent/Malvasía Riojana and two varieties of red grapes: Garnatxa Tinta and Monastrell. Only two red varieties are authorised for producing rosé Cava: Pinot Noir and Trepat.

xarel-lo1Xarel·lo is a round, white grape with a thick skin. The taste as it grows on the vine is semi-sweet. It has a natural acidity which provides fresh fruit aromas of apple, grapefruit and lemon to the wine. It is one of the primary grapes in Cavas grown in the following Designations of Origin: Alella, Penede`s, Tarragona and Costers del Segre. I’d call this baby “The Body of Cava”.

macabeuMacabeu is one of the most widely planted white grapes in the North of Spain, where it is usually referred to as Viura. It is responsible for the floral notes in Cava wines, very resistant to oxidiation and has a low acidity. In addition to being a primary varietal in Cava, it has also seen great success in Rioja and Southern France. Also spelled Macabeo in Castilian/Spanish. “The Soul of Cava”.

VARIEDADES UVA 09 036Parellada is the least planted of the traditional Cava grapes. This varietal brings acidity and fresh fruit characteristics, at times very candy like and almost always some kind of banana, in comparison to the more prevalent Macabeu and Xarel·lo. While it grows best on higher altitudes, yielding bright, crisp wines, Parellada produces a softer wine in the vineyards situated on valley floors. One of my favorite grapes. This would be “The Makeup of Cava”.

1280px-ChardonnayChardonnay is the most widely planted variety in the world and one of the most important grapes for sparkling wines, its inclusion into Spanish sparkling wines in the early 1980’s is still controversial since it is not one of the traditional three Cava grapes. It adds body and toasted, creamy notes to the wine, and also takes on characteristics of the oak, if used, during the aging process.

640px-Malvasia_grapesSubirat Parent/Malvasía Riojana is one of Spain’s most characterful white varieties, it can be found in many regions including Rioja and Valencia. In Catalonia it is known as Subirat Parent and it is mostly used in D.O. Alella and D.O. Penedes, as well as being certified for Cava making. There are extensive plantings in the Canary Islands where the veriety is used for a wide range of styles. One of its attributes is longevity; the variety often plays a supporting role in Rioja’s white blends when a period on oak is needed.

trepatTrepat is a red grape variety that is grown primarily in the Conca de Barberà and Costers del Segre DO:s of Catalonia. Ampelographers believe that the grape is likely indigenous to northeast Spain and today there are approximately 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of the variety used mostly for light rosé. It has the potential for fine red wines, but is primarily used to add light, subtle characteristics and color to rosé Cava. Over the years Trepat has been known under a variety of synonyms including: Bonicaire, Embolicaire, Parrel, Trapat, Traput and Trepan.

DSCF0323Mataró/Monastrell is commonly known as Mourvèdre, tends to produce tannic wines that can be high in alcohol, adds structure and color to Cava. The variety was probably introduced to Catalonia by the Phoenicians around 500 BC. The French-adapted name Mourvèdre likely came from Murviedro (Mourvèdre in Catalan, nowadays Sagunt) near Valencia while the Catalan name Mataró likely came from Mataró, near the modern-day city of Barcelona.

GarnatxaGarnatxa/Garnacha/Grenache is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world. It is a variety that requires hot, dry conditions which makes it ideal for growing in DOQ Priorat. It is generally spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate with a relatively high alcohol content, but it needs careful control of yields for best results. It tends to lack acidity, tannin or color, so it is typically blended with other grapes to add body and a sweet fruitiness to Cava.

Pinot_Noir_Grape_VinePinot Noir produces some of the finest wines in the world, but also very delicate and difficult to produce due to its sensitive nature. Compact grape clusters and thin skins make the Pinot Noir susceptible to different diseases. When young, wines made from Pinot Noir tend to have red fruit aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries. It provides Cava wine with great floral aromatics and for the rosé Cava it lends its color.

83 to go!

Segura Viudas, Lush Life in D.O. Cava

116/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – Torrelavit – Segura Viudas – Lavit Brut Nature

Lush Life……

…., where one relaxes on the axis of the wheel of life, to get the feel of life, but to write Lush Life in D.O. Cava is not quite right, as D.O Cava is not a place but a appellation covering all Cava making areas in Spain. The one region producing most of the Cava in the country (95%) is Penedes and in Penedes, most of it comes from and around Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. So let;s start by explaining more in detail what D.O Cava is and how the Regulatory Board works.


The Consejo Regulador (Regulatory Board) consists of a Chairman, Deputy Chairman and General Secretary. In addition to the obvious positions, there are representatives for the wine making sector and the production sector, all so that the vintners, wine makers and all others involved, have their say. Well, this is at least in theory, how it actually works is beyond me, but one of these days I’ll pay them a visit to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to!


Cava is subjected to quality checks carried out by the technical services of the Regulatory Board. These controls start in the vineyards, using the registers of plots entitles to produce grapes for Cava making, control of volumes produced, monitoring of the quality and final destination of the grapes. Registered producers must comply with the specific technical conditions to obtain the right to produce both the cuvee and the Cava. The tipping stoppers for Cava must be marked with the month and year of the operation so as to guarantee the minimum aging periods required by the Regulations.


Quality, analytical and organoleptic controls are conducted so as to evaluate the cuvees, a process during which regular inspections. stock statements and verification of movements are made. The labels for any type of Cava must first be authorized by the Board and meet the requisites under current law. The entire, complex control system includes the quality check of the finished product, authorizing the use of the name “Cava” and also the terms “Reserva” and “Gran Reserva”, issuing the numbered control marks (disc or band) with the three terms above which all bottles destined for consumption must bear, as seals which guarantee the quality and origin of the Cava.


The characteristics of Cavas will depend on the differing variety combinations, years and also the different aging periods. To call a sparkling wine Cava, it has to be made using the traditional method (Methode Champagneoise) with a second fermentation “sur lees” and in a bottle. The minimum aging time for CAVA is 9 moths. The minimum for Reserva CAVA is 15 months and finally Gran Reserva CAVA with the minimum of 30 months.


The indication “Gran Reserva” may only be used for “Brut Nature”, “Extra Brut” and “Brut”, which are aged for thirty months or more in the same cellars. The label must show the indication “Gran Reserva” and the year of the harvest. In this respect, Cava is the only sparkling wine which can bear this distinction.


The Cava Region comprises a total of 159 municipalities in the provinces of Barcelona (63), Tarragona (52), Lleida (12), Girona (5), La Rioja (18), Alava (3), Zaragoza (2), Navarra (2), Valencia (1) and Badajoz (1), which together conform the delimited Cava producing area and are therefore the only ones with the full legal capacity to produce this type of sparkling wine and market it under this name.


The municipality of Sant Sadurni d’Anoia si the heart and origin of this region, its driving force. Its spirit lies not merely in an area, a territory, but in the traditions, the style of winemaking, a blind faith in the quality of the product and a keen enthusiasm in disseminating this special beverage. Cava is made from different varieties, although there are three varieties of white grape which are considered the main ingredients.


Macabeu, Xarel.lo and Parellada are the three main characters, the lead roles. In addition to these, several more varieties come into play and have been proven suitable for wine making under the D.O. of Cava. Chardonnay, Malvoisie, Pinot Noir, Red Grenache, Monastrell and Trepat. The latter has, so far, only been authorized for the making of rose Cava.


Pairing Cava with food  is often relegated to being served with only appetizers and desserts, but in reality, it is a remarkably versatile beverage that can be served throughout the meal! Here are some tips for successful pairings and some suggestions to try for yourself. Cava acts as a palate cleanser when paired with fried food and dishes with rich sauces. The crisp acidity and bubbles cut through fatty flavors, refreshing the palate for the next bite.


A brut Cava works well with vegetable tempura or with linguine in mushroom cream sauce.  For a refreshing contrast to smooth, silky food textures, Cava’s effervescence adds an interesting textural dimension. Try a Brut with creamy butternut squash soup and with triple cream brie, some Reservas, Brut Nature works well with seared foie gras. Cava is a brilliant match for bright, tart and tangy foods, which need to be matched by an equal measure of vibrancy in the wine. Brut Rosé with Nicoise salad works wonders!


The head count for Cava producing wineries in 2014 is 247. Companies producing base wines for Cava are 157, and together the two categories, produced some 241 million bottles during 2013, out of which 160 millions went abroad. That’s a whole lot of bubbles! The five top countries consuming Cava are Germany, The UK, Belgium, The US and Japan. One of the producers is Heretat Segura Viudas and today we’re exploring one of the Cavas they make.


Lavit Brut Nature, 60% Macabeu and 40% Parellada

Straw yellow color with greenish hues. The bubbles are fine with steady release, forming a slight crown. Primary aromas are of yeast, nuts, butter, those are the parenting aromas also. Ripe fruit and hints of aniseed appear and provide the depth. The palate entry is soft and fresh, with bubbles that fits nicely in the mouth. This is a Cava with structure and a dry aftertaste which has a marked character. It is an ideal Cava to enjoy with starters, especially with light snacks and tapas.

263 to go!


Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle