Bubbling up

19 March, 2018

“If young people want to drink prosecco that is fine. I would rather that than beer. That gives us more opportunities to sell cava. It’s mathematics,” says Torelló enthusiastically.

For Torelló, the Cava de Paraje Calificado is simply the next step for cava. Talking about single vineyards, organic (not a specific requirement of the classification but many are) and long-aged cavas, provides the producers with the opportunity to tell consumers about better quality caves –the Reserve, Gran Reservas and now above.

Belgium is the principal export market for cava but not for Juvé & Camps. It is the US. President Joan Juvé Santacana tells DI that he has 40ha of Pinot Noir and 60 of Chardonnay. So he makes a rosado and a blanc de noir, most of which goes stateside. His Reserva Familia Brut Natural (no added sugar) has shown “explosive growth”, he claims.

Jaume Gramona Marti, president of Gramona, is a man who takes his winemaking very seriously

– he belongs to a group of biodynamic cava makers. He found his soils so compacted that they were bordering on lifeless in terms of worms and insects.

He has invested €800,000 in converting and became officially biodynamic in 2014.

“It was a big decision but nothing happens by chance,” he says. “The soils were sick” and his vines’ roots were not going down deep enough. He now has sheep, cows and horses grazing in his vineyards.

Apparently back in 2012 Neal Martin of The Wine Advocate endorsed Gramona by calling it “unquestionably the most impressive portfolio of cavas that money can buy”. Praise indeed.

Pedro Bonet, head of a faction of the Freixenet family and outgoing president of the DO, has been the driving force behind the Cava de Paraje Calificado. But, at 72, he tells DI that he and his branch of the family has decided to put its near 51% of the company up for sale. They have offered their share to Henkel, which tried to buy the company some years ago.

There is some disquiet in the DO as to who is going to fill his large shoes. Soundings are currently being taken but, as Bonet has been so instrumental in trying to change mentality to drive up quality, there are some who are con-cerned as to who can continue the good work.

Asked who might replace him in April, a guarded Bonet replies: “I have been hearing names but people are waiting for the elections.”

A thoughtful, impressive man, Bonet says: “The Cava de Paraje is very im-portant for cava. For the past year and a half, people have been speaking about quality, not price.”

if you can’t beat them…

It also has to be said that the company has been astute enough to think that if ‘you can’t beat them, join them’. So last May Freixenet announced it was launching a premium prosecco, using Glera grapes from Italy’s Veneto region. Sparkling wine volumes have increased by 44% in five years to 1,020 million bottles and prosecco volumes have tripled while champagne and cava have remained steady, according to Freixenet and IWSR. There is also Australian ‘prosecco’ but it will not be allowed into European Union countries.

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Nick Strangeway

Bar food's blurred lines

Once upon a time pubs and bars were somewhere you went with the sole purpose of getting pissed and there wasn’t a knife and fork in sight, just a packet of dry roasted nuts.