No matter the season, there is no real celebration without the addition of some bubbly. In recent years, especially since the strain of pandemic supply issues and lockdown caused a shortage in Champagne supply, American consumers have shifted into ‘cozy celebration’ mode: gathering and celebrating at home.
Sparkling wine sales continue to blossom in the States, from several wine-producing regions worldwide. Of course, we know the French Champagne, and the Italian Prosecco, but there’s one sparkling wine that’s making a bigger splash in American markets: Spanish Cava. In 2021, cava shipments to the States emerged, ending the year with a record-breaking 40% increase from their 2020 shipment, according to the Consejo Regulador del Cava.
The best part of Cava is its affordability, averaging between $20-25 per bottle, without sacrificing quality. In fact, over the last couple of decades, Cava producers have gradually improved their quality through experimenting and perfecting their winemaking and production processes. Some of these notable adjustments include the addition of French varieties in the wine’s blend (such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc), tightening yields and aging regimens, and recognizing production subzones.
Beyond working hard both in the vineyards and during the winemaking process, over time the producers realized that Cava sales in the U.S. would benefit from marketing by way of education. Only a decade ago, Cava consumption was considered to be rare, and so the producers discovered that shifting not only their winemaking processes, but their marketing angles would help introduce American markets to such beautiful, high-quality, affordable Spanish sparkling wines.
What does the rise of Cava mean for American consumers? There’s less of a need for an excuse to enjoy a delicious sparkling wine at home– it introduces the idea that sparkling wine can be enjoyed on a regular basis, rather than only for special occasions. Given the reasonable pricing and increasingly improved quality, Cava is only going to become more popular from this point forward in the U.S.
Our Cava Recommendations (from the VW Portfolio)
Parés Baltà NV Brut Cava, Penedès
A young and lively organic cava. Brut de Parés Baltà cava is a coupage of the three traditional Penedés varieties: Parellada, Macabeo, and Xarel lo. Parellada, from the highest mountains in the region, gives a crisp freshness, while Macabeo gives fruitiness, and Xarel lo gives the cava body.
The three varieties complement each other creating a perfect synergy of aromas and freshness. Pale yellow color with bright yellow reflections. On the nose, there’s a medium-intensity aroma floating from the glass: notes of pastries combined with white fruits, such as pear and apple, along with floral notes. On the palate, it is fresh and lively, where fruit notes dominate. Light and smooth mid-palate with a beautiful, pleasant finish.
Manual harvest and arrival at the winery for gentle pressing. Each variety ferments separately at 16°C in stainless steel vats for 2 weeks. Second fermentation in the bottle according to the traditional method, with a minimum aging of 12 months.
Parés Baltà 2012 Brut Blanc Cusiné, Penedès - 90 Wine Spectator
In Blanca Cusiné cava, the traditional Xarel lo variety meets two historical varieties in the world of sparkling wines, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. All of them take on their own nuances due to the influence of the climate and the terroir of the Penedés mountains, in their Les Valls estate. Pinot Noir is vinified as "blanc de noirs" offering a beautiful sparkling wine where finesse and elegance speak for themselves.
A cava that is a tribute to the women of Parés Baltà, especially to the youngest daughter of Joan Cusiné, and the oenologist María Elena, Blanca, born in 2002, just like the first vintage of this emblematic cava that speaks to the importance of the details and the value of the family.
“Nose rich in praline and notes of spices that accentuate the flavors of crystallized honey, the toasted point and the orange peel on the palate. Firm and distinctive, with a fine, satiny mousse texture, with a streak of saltiness on the finish.” - Allison Napjus, Wine Spectator
Manual harvest and in small boxes to avoid oxidation of the must. Separate gentle pressing. The chardonnay and the Xarel lo ferment separately in stainless steel vats at 16ºC. The Pinot Noir undergoes vinification on the lees for 2 months with battering 3 times a week. After bottling, it goes through the second fermentation in the bottle according to the traditional method, with a minimum aging of 80 months
Parés Baltà is a certified-organic and -biodynamic wine producer. The two cava selections are both Vegan-friendly.