Tradition attributes the “invention” of the sparkling wine to the Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Perignon, even though it cannot be really said that he invented it, but the merit surely does correspond to him for being the first person to study its characteristics in detail and improve the technique for its preparation. Cava, at the same time called wine from Champagne, had an outstanding commercial success and imposed itself as the prestigious wine, a thing which vine growers and technicians from other regions such as Catalonia took much notice of, so much so that that the end of the XIX century the first bottles are sold in the Catalan market.
Sant Sadurní d’Anoia and its surroundings are converted thus into the nucleus of this incipient industry under expansion and, currently, one hundred and fifty nine municipalities make up the Cava Region, the area that is considered as the D.O. (Denominación de Origen – Appelation controlé)
Method of Production
The secret of a good cava is knowing how to combine art and technology, and not to be ignored, excellent raw materials. It is in the vineyard where the production process for cava commences, with the traditional varieties of Penedes grapes: Macabeu, Xarel’lo and Parellada.
Harvesting, selection and transport of the grapes to the wine cellars is done with great care. There the grapes are pressed to extract the juice and obtain the basic wine. Immediately following this process, these juices, or musts, are clarified in order to remove all impurities and, once clean, they are made to ferment with selected yeasts and very strict control of the temperature.
When vinification is complete, the “coupage” phase take place: the different variety wines are mixed in order to make the correct blend, the future character of the wine.
After this, the wine is bottled adding sugars and yeasts, this process is called “tiratge” which allows for a second fermentation in the bottle, and the appearance of the characteristic sparkle of the product. This second fermentation produces the cava: the bottles are laid down, surrounded by dark and humidity and they rest quietly in a nearly constant temperature that does not exceed 15ºC: this process is called racking.
Here is where the ageing process takes place which has a minimum duration of nine months. During this time rotating take place: small and short movements of the bottle in order to make the yeast lees fall to the neck of the bottle making it much easier to eliminate them. This purification process is called degorgement and in some cases some producers continue even today doing it by hand, which requires great care and a special technique.
Finally the bottle is topped up with the expedition liqueur which determines the type of cava according to the amount of sugar content: brut, extra brut, extra dry, dry, semi dry, sweet and brut nature, which has no added sugar. The cava is now ready for the market.