Monday, January 21, 2013

Cava & Sant Sadurni d'Anoia

Today I want to talk about Cava! What better subject on a … Monday? (Or any day!)

I have a feeling there is a conception from people outside of Spain that Cava is not really as good as Champagne, that the quality is bad and that Cava is just “cheap champagne”. Am I right?

But did you know that Cava is the Spanish version of Champagne and that it is made with exactly the same procedures as Champagne? When they started making Cava, they used the same method and even the same grapes. They actually called it Spanish Champagne, but it was later prohibited as Champagne has Protected Geographical Status in the EU. In other words, Champagne can only be labeled as such if it comes from the designated region Champagne in France.

The name cava comes from cave or cellar, which is where the Spanish Champagne was produced, preserved or aged. Cava became the new name of Spanish Champagne.

About 95% of all Cava produced in Spain is produced in Catalunya, and the Cava is very popular there. It is used for all sorts of festive occasions, and you are basically the one to decide what’s festive enough for popping a bottle. I love this! In Norway sparkling wine (what we call it mostly) is saved for special occasions and not used a lot. I love the Catalan spirit of it!

The production of Cava goes all the way back to the 1860’s. After having visited the Champagne region, Josep Raventos was inspired to see if a similar product could be made in Spain. And the rest is history.

There is one main "cavatown" in Catalunya, Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, a quaint little town with about 80 different cava producers. 80! I can’t quite wrap my head around such a number, in such a small town. The town centre is small, but as soon as you step outside, all you see is acres upon acres of vineyards. Beautiful!

Walking around the town, most big buildings have some connection with Cava, names of 
families and producers.

Colloquially, many Spaniards simply call cava "Champan"(Spanish), or "Xampany" (Catalan)
Some of the bigger producers, such as Codorníu and Freixenet have guided tours all year round, but the first weekend of October is Cava-fiesta-weekend, a weekend completely dedicated to the lovely bubbles. On the Sunday of this weekend, all the producers open their doors, also those who normally never opens to the public. Big and small.

The main grapes used for Cava production today is Macabeo, Parellada and Xarello, where each one bring characteristics to the table that complement the others.
-          -Macabeo gives sweetness and perfume
-          -Parellada gives freshness and aroma
-          -Xarello gives body and structure.

Cava is produced by the traditional method of a secondary fermentation in the same bottle the wine is sold, and that is how the bubbles are formed naturally.

Cava is cheaper than Champagne, but not necessarily less good. There are several factors making French Champagne more expensive and it's not all about quality. Give Cava a try and tell me what you think! Go for a "Brut Nature" or a "Reserva" and you shouldn't be dissapointed.

I have visited both Codorníu and Freixenet, and it was the most wonderful experiences. Wine production is oh so exotic to me, coming from cold Norway. I enjoyed these visits like a kid in a candy store. Posts from both cava producers are coming up!

The "car-stoppers" (I think I just invented a word? Don't know it in English!) in Sant Sadurni d'Anoia are cava corks!
The little Cava-town, Sant Sadurní d'Anoia can 
be reached by train from Barcelona,
 it’s only about 45 minutes away. 
Absolutely worth a visit!


  1. Wow, I had no idea about any of this! Thanks for sharing...I'll have to see if I can spot any Cava on the shelves over here!

    1. Great! I think Freixenet and Codorníu exports all over the world, so look for those! (A "brut nature" is a safe bet.)

  2. Poor Cava, getting such a bad rep because it's not from France! I love how much you get engrossed in a culture, I feel like there are so many things you really do not know about a place until you live there. I don't know if I can take your word for it on the cava versus champagne though, I think this is going to require further taste-testing on my part ;)

    (just kidding)

    hope you're having a great week!!

    1. I absolutely agree- some taste-testing is in order ;)
      Hope you are having a great week too!

  3. Cava, aaaah... I'd love a glass of Cava right now, unfortunately it's not going to happen as the local Vinmonopolet is closed! Interesting post though, I didn't know half of this stuff. I just knew that I do like Cava. :)

    1. Haha, ahh the damn Vinmonopolet ;) Here I can get cava until 11pm! Including on Sundays. No planning needed, and that is great. Sometimes, just knowing that you like something is enough :)

  4. Mmmmmmm....cava!!! I have fond memories of a day spent en la playa de Castelldefels drinking (too much?) cava! What a wonderful day that was. I'm excited to do it again! The area I currently live in is known for wine production. When you come visit me, we will spend days tasting wine! And then when I come see you, we will taste cava. Deal? :)

    1. My favourite "Barcelona-beach" - (well it's not in Bcn, but you know, it's where I'd for go for a day at the beach!) - and favourite drink!
      It's a deal, yes please!