ew things say ‘celebration’ like cava wine. The delicate glass and rising bubbles give any event a touch of style, and it’s a drink that lifts the whole atmosphere of a place. Let’s celebrate its history and tradition in Spain, and find out more about cava in Barcelona
The where and how of cava
Just like its cousin, champagne, cava comes to us from a specific place, using specific grapes. Made in Catalonia, the macabeu, xarello and parellada grapes are combined to create a sweet and bubbly sparkling wine. This cultural phenomenon has been produced in the region since 1851, and can only be called cava if it has met a set of procedures and processes. Given ‘Denominación de Origen’ status, cava has been protected and recognised for its importance. If you're wondering what is cava and Barcelona is close by, it’s your chance to learn all about it. The majority is produced in the Penedès region in the north-eastern part of Spain. This energetic community is known for green slopes, rising mountains and strong local pride. If you’re visiting to try cava in Barcelona, there are some beautiful vineyards (‘bodegas’) where you’ll be able to learn all about the history and methods used.
Although the brewing technique is similar to champagne, with the second fermentation taking place inside the bottle, cava has the advantage of being grown in Spain. Hundreds of days of sunshine every year mean the grapes are lighter and sweeter than their French cousins, and less sugar is added to cava than champagne. Just like the warm and fun Spanish people, cava is easy to get on with and a lively partner for any occasion.
When should you drink cava?
This is an easy question to answer, because there are no rules; drink it whenever. Cava can be enjoyed as you mingle at an elegant party in a tuxedo, before dinner with friends or with a big brunch on a laid-back Sunday. A major advantage to cava over other sparkling wines is that there is less pomp and circumstance around it. Opening a bottle of cava is less about showing off, and more about enjoying the sweet, light flavour and the bubbles on your tongue. There’s no pretension and no fuss. Cava is a perfect drink for almost any occasion, made with tradition and a respect for the past.
Where to see cava being made
To really understand why cava is so special, you should visit a vineyard and see how the grapes start their life. All three cava wines mentioned below, can be found in Terminal 42, a fun and lively spot in the centre of Barcelona. If you want to see the best cava winery in Barcelona, check out the Llopart vineyard, where Llopart reserva brut nature 2016 is produced. The first bottle was made in 1887, and ever since then, this vineyard has been producing some of the most loved cava in Spain.
Still run by the original family, tradition and process are central to this high-quality cava. Their brut nature 2016 cava is soft and dry, making it incredibly versatile and able to go with most occasions. Another fantastic vineyard in Catalonia is the L’Origan vineyard in Barcelona, started in 1906 and known for their Aire brut nature 2015. Their cellars are spread out underground and keep the developing cava at a steady 18C to 20C with no refrigeration, no matter the temperature outside. They even measure vibration levels to ensure that not even the tiniest of disturbances affect the quality of their product.
The Torello Pal.lid brut rose is another highlight to check out, made at the Torelló estate. The family traces their roots back to 1395, and 22 generations have lived in the same country house since then. Their family changed their vines after the phylloxera plague in 1872, and have been making some of the world’s best sparkling cava since then.
A final bodega to check out is Gramona, one of the smallest and most traditional of all the cava producers in Catalonia. Unlike many of the larger cava producers in the region, Gramona doesn’t use mechanised methods and manages everything by hand. A tour here shows you what cava production was like in the past. The old ways are sometimes the best, and the careful and methodical approach means that a visit to the Gramona caves is a unique experience. You can even take a horseback ride along the vines and see the hillside where the grapes grow.
A rustic option and a city tasting
If you’re in Barcelona to savour the Mediterranean lifestyle as well as some traditional cava, head to Terminal 42, where you can enjoy a glass of Aire brut nature 2015 and more. Immerse yourself in the fun local community and a wonderfully relaxing setting. Some of the best cava in Barcelona is here, so don’t wait to visit.