Prosecco. Let’s get that word out in the open. Every investigation of cava has to have a view on prosecco. This, after all, is the wine that gives cava producers bad dreams. Yet it wasn’t so long ago that cava was where prosecco is now. Then cava was the first choice for girls’ nights in, weddings, baby showers and a great value champagne substitute for cocktails. I’m going to argue that cava has the potential to be so much more than prosecco.
Cava is made by the traditional method, like Champagne. Prosecco isn’t. This is what can give its complexity – though it does make it more expensive to produce, even with the astonishing mechanisation installed so early in the great cava enterprises. The first sparkling was made in 1872, but the cava DO was not created until 1986. Because there were a few people already making traditional method sparkling outside Penedès, they were included in the DO. Thus cava is one of the rare denominations in the world that cannot relate to a geographical origin, or lay claim to terroir – a sense of place. That is a clear obstacle to reputation in these days when we want to focus on artisan production from single vineyards.