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Cava de Paraje ambitions announced with lofty London launch

Published:  21 November, 2017

The apex of The City’s Gherkin building provided a suitably swish setting for the UK launch of the new Cava de Paraje Calificado on Monday, signalling the quality-focused ambition of Penedes leading sparkling winemakers.

Hosted by the president of DO Cava, Pedro Bonet, and Spanish MW Pedro Ballesteros, the presentation and tasting brought together several of Spain’s leading Cava producers to show wines that meet the strict criteria of the Cava de Paraje classification’s production rules.

These include minimum vine age, single parcel wines, vinified on the estate and aged for a minimum of 36 months in the bottle – an initiative designed to enshrine and showcase the best that Cava can offer and help tip perception of Spain’s favourite fizz by bringing greater focus onto such higher quality wines.

Cava sales and its image have been suffering in the UK, with the onslaught of Prosecco often sidelining its Spanish rival. But Cava’s champions have been increasingly vocal in highlighting the quality and true value that Spain’s traditional method sparkling wines are capable of delivering.

As the upbeat mood at the launch suggested, the DO Cava and it’s leading producers are clearly confident that Cava de Paraje Calificado will help reinforce such quality messages at a time when Cava sales have been faltering in both UK on- and off-trade.

“Many producers have the ability to [make wines that meet the criteria of] Cava de Paraje Calificado,’ said Bonet. “So this means more quality, more excellence, and this is better for the premium image of the wines.”

Ballesteros added: “If we want Cava de Paraje to succeed, we need great wines, and these are the conditions producers need to fulfil, it’s perhaps the most important innovation… this has to be told to the people buying the wine.”

Ballesteros highlighted both the geographical and climatic variety of Catalonia’s Cava heartlands, along with the indigenous and international varieties that may be used to produce a wide range of styles, meaning that the new classification folds in both quality and variety.

“All are top wines from the wineries, but this is the first step in a new development,” said Ballesteros. “We are still learning.”

The winemakers at the Cava de Paraje masterclass presented a range of Cavas that included such diverse wines as a 100% Pinot Noir and a 100% Xarel.lo sample, plus Cavas with a decade and more bottle aging, delivering an upbeat taste of the potential for this new classification.