This post continues our preparation for the next Wine Blogging Wednesday. In the last installment we talked about Prosecco and other Italian sparklers, now we will touch on Cava and American Sparkling Wines.
Cava [KAH-vah]is the official name for sparkling wine produced in designated areas in various parts of northern Spain. The use of the word cava came about as a result of legal conflicts with France over the use of champán, Spain’s word for champagne. The word cava (Catalan for "cellar") was chosen for Spain’s sparkling wines because almost all such wines are made in the Catalan region.
The Cava DO was established in 1986 and, unlike other Spanish DOs, it has multiple geographic areas. In fact, eight specified regions have been authorized for sparkling wine production. Three of the provinces-Barcelona, Girona, and Tarragona (in the Catalonia region around Barcelona)-make over 95 percent of the country’s cava. The other regions are Álava, Aragón, Extremadura, Navarra, and Rioja. To qualify for Cava DO status, wines must be made by the méthode champenoise. Sparkling wines that aren’t geographically qualified for Cava DO status but that are made by méthode champenoise are called vino espumoso natural método tradicional.
The grapes used for most Cava DO wines are macabeo, parellada and xarel-lo. However, chardonnay is allowed in the cuvée (some producers use it extensively), and the companies using it as a major component include Codorníu, Raimat (owned by Codorníu), and Segura Viudas (owned by Freixenet). Additionally, some rosado (rosé) cava is produced using Garnacha (grenache), Monastrell (mourvèdre), and Pinot Noir. Cava DO rules require a minimum aging of 9 months.
For our tasting we tried Segura Viudas CAVA Brut. Cavas are very affordable, although they can get up into the pricey range. Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad is around $60.
AMERICAN SPARKLING WINES
California has a long history in the sparkling wine business. Many of their sparkling wine producers are related to French Champagne houses, for instance Chandon is part of Moet Chandon. But many states that produce wine have some sparkling wine on their list of offerings.
Here in Washington, Ste. Michelle, one of the oldest and the largest producer has a line of sparklers including a Brut, Blanc de Blanc and and Blanc do Noir. In Oregon, Argyle continues to win awards for its sparkling wines.
Most of the American sparklers that I’ve seen use the traditional Champagne grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier (or Meunier) and Chardonnay. However, while at Cornucopia I tasted a Canadian sparkler made from Riesling so there is some experimentation going on.
Prices on American sparkling wines are all over the board. The Ste. Michelle retails for about $13, is often on sale around $9 and tends to always make the "Best Values" list. The different Argyle varieties range from $25 – $40. Chandon wines are in a similar range. I’m sure if I look hard enough I can find higher priced wines but they would be the exception and not the rule.
Preparing for Wine Blogging Wednesday – Part I
Preparing for Wine Blogging Wednesday – Part III
Preparing for Wine Blogging Wednesday – Part IV
Preparing for Wine Blogging Wednesday – Part V