Cava: Quality compares

26 March, 2019

Boerse agrees. “The Cava de Paraje Calificado has helped to upgrade the whole category and has granted cava recognition within the most prestigious sparkling wine categories in the world. This improvement in the perception of consumers is leading eventually to an increasing interest for premium cavas as well,” he says.

There is optimism across the whole category – not just at the top end – with export sales up 3.5% from 2016 to 2017 and a number of export markets, including Germany, Belgium, United Kingdom, US, France and Japan, all performing well. This is borne out among importers such as Ehrmanns in the UK, which is adding cava listings as interest grows. “Next year we will be introducing the Finca la Capella, a Cava de Paraje Calificado single estate Cava to our Juve & Camps range. The Juve cavas are all north of £12, so our approach to the market is much more selective,” says Ehrmanns director and Spain buyer Peter Dauthieu.

In the DO itself – as in much of Spain and Europe the 2018 growing season has produced good-quality fruit which producers are excited about. “We are very happy with the quality of this year’s grapes. They offer very fresh aromas and are sure to provide cavas that are very suitable for aging,” says Codorníu’s Pinilla.

It’s difficult to write about sparkling wine without mentioning prosecco, the consumer success story that continues to surprise analysts and trade experts with its growth and reach. Many cava producers clearly don’t want to discuss prosecco outside of stating that any consumer trend for sparkling wine is good for the category as a whole. Others, thankfully, have more robust opinions and are looking at the pros and cons of the prosecco boom and, crucially, how it’s affecting cava.

“The global sparkling category growth is slowing down and prosecco is still very aggressive in the market,” says Pinilla. It can be said that it’s a moment of consolidation and rationalisation of the category. Cava its suffering, particularly in the low and standard price level, but from our point of view, it’s going to be a key player in getting the premiumisation among prosecco consumers,”.

For Pernod Ricard the prosecco headache comes in terms of marketing. “The growth of prosecco has resulted in increasing promotional pressures,” says Toni Ingram.

“Awareness of cava and the quality of the winemaking still remains low compared to prosecco.”


Looking at it from an agency/importer perspective and focusing on what sales teams in the field are doing to differentiate between prosecco and cava, John Graves thinks that the success of prosecco makes it harder to market cava. “Prosecco has become more dominated by entry-point wines and the customer is not buying it as a quality product,” he says. “The key will be to encourage customers to buy cava and premium prosecco as a wine and not an alternative to cheaper Pinot Grigio.”

Peter Dauthieu believes the best route for cava is to encourage this trading up. “The success of prosecco has definitely helped to get producers to focus more on the premium side of cava,” he says.

Many producers are turning to the complexity and variety of styles within cava to help push their message, while also shouting about how well cava works in a food-matching situation. “Cava is a super gastronomic partner, and the perfect match for any occasion according to the different ageing,” says Diego Pinilla. “Cavas for the long haul are ideal for the gourmet gastronomy, while young cavas, with just nine month’s ageing, are lovely to toast any occasion.”


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