Nothing says Christmas quite like sparkling wine. But while your mind might go straight to Champagne, you would be remiss to overlook another fine fizz: Cava. This spectacular Spanish sparkler is just a festive as its French cousin – and much better value, to boot.
The Cava in December's Gin of the Month box is from Codorníu, the oldest family business in Spain, whose experts have been making remarkable wines since 1872 – in fact, as we reveal below, the Codorníu family invented Cava!
Here are four reasons to make Cava your fizz of choice over the holidays:
1. Cava is still made the traditional way
Cava isn’t Cava – quite literally – unless it’s made using the méthodo traditional.
Cava production began in the mid-1800s, when Codorníu’s Josep Raventós returned from a trip to the Champagne region of France, eager to bring the method of sparkling wine production he saw there to his home country.
Even then, Josep – a descendant of Codorníu heiress Anna and her husband, Miquel, who solidified today’s winemaking dynasty when they married in 1659 – was drawing on centuries of winemaking experience.
As Codorníu’s Head Winemaker, Bruno Colomer, says: “Codorníu is the story of a family of vine growers that goes back to the 16th century. The earliest record that we have proves that in 1551 the family already had presses, barrels and casks for wine production in Sant Sadurní, where Codorníu remains.”
To this day all Cavas undergo a second round of fermentation in the same bottle you’ll eventually buy. This is how the wine gets its fizz, and has the bonus of giving many Cavas the warm, toasty flavour we tend to associate with another style of sparkling wine…
2. It’s closely related to Champagne
The méthodo traditional used to make Cava is, essentially, the same as the méthode classique – the official EU designation for the method used to produce Champagne. That’s why Cavas tend to share Champagne’s signature warm, toasty flavour.
In addition, many Cava producers add traditional Champagne grapes to their wines. The visionary winemakers at Codorníu were the first to use traditional Champagne grapes in their Cavas, creating a truly international style of sparkling wine.
Because of these similarities, Cava can taste much closer to Champagne than other sparkling wines. When aged – the bottle of Codorníu in December's Gin of the Month box was aged for nine months – Cavas can develop a complexity to rival even Champagne.
3. Cava producers are always innovating
Cava producers like Codorníu have preserved their traditions, but they’ve also played an important role in bringing winemaking into the future. Whether by experimenting with grape varieties or inventing new ways to press grapes, Cava houses historically been some of the most innovative winemakers in the world.
Codorníu has been making wine since 1551, but continues to push the envelope. As Bruno explains: “Innovation and a respect for heritage can work together. Codorníu has been a symbol of continuity and innovation. Five centuries of history and experience – combining tradition with modernity – result in a winery committed to continuous innovation and an ability to meet the highest expectations for outstanding Cavas.”
4. Few know how truly great a bottle of Cava can be
While in recent times Prosecco may have hogged all the fizzy wine headlines, the true potential of Cava is often overlooked.
As Bruno says: “These are fun bubbles from Barcelona! Cava is so much fun on special occasions. There’s the sense of occasion – popping the cork, the bubbles – but you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy it.”
So enjoy a bottle of Codorníu by the Christmas tree, and do so secure in the knowledge that you’re partaking in some very fine fizz from the original home of Cava. Salud!