Cava is a style of sparkling wine from Penedes in the Catalonia region of northeast Spain- Barcelona’s hinterland. It’s traditionally made from the indigenous varieties Maccabeo (Maccabeu), X-arello and Parralada, grown in the Denominacion’s limestone soils.
Until recently Cava was legally restricted to sparkling wines made by the Methode Champenoise and produced in Penedes, but in the past decade the Spanish government has allowed the use of the Cava name for Methode-Champenoise sparkling wines produced in various other regions including Aragon, Leon, and Valencia. Today approximately 250 million bottles of Cava are produced annually, 95% of which is from Penedes, Codorniu and Freixenet are the two largest producers.
The creation of Cava is associated with the growth of the Catalan wine production during the mid-1800’s and the growth in popularity of Champagne at the end of the 19th century. In the late 1800’s in Cataluña a few wine farmers started experimenting with making wines in the same way as in Champagne using the locally grown white grapes. In 1872 Josep Raventós Fatjó of the Codorníu estate is said to be the first to produce wine made using the Champagne method in Catalonia.
Finally, in 1968, Cordonieu was the first sparkling wine producer to introduce the Gyropallette, developed by two Frenchmen but first used in Spain. This advance helped fuel a dramatic increase in production of Cava. Today, Gyros are used in all major sparkling wine producing regions, including most of the finest Champagne houses.
Basca is a bit atypical relative to a classic Cava, produced from a blend of 60% Parallada, 20% Maccabeo, and 20% X-Arello. Finished with only 6-7 g/l of residual sugar dosage, it’s clean and dry, with a brilliant bouquet and a clean, crisp finish. Using a majority Parallada rather then the usual Maccabeo gives it a brighter, more lime-zest acidity and a bit more focus on the finish. Handcrafted (except, that is, for the Gyros), it’s a great example of perfectly balanced, mid-range Cava and a great value.