Lovers of Spanish sparkler Cava should head to the hills of Penedès and explore the Cava region. Spain makes Cava in numerous other prescribed regions, but Catalonia is still the spiritual home to the country’s increasingly trendy bubbly.
In fact, 95% of all Cava is still made in the region, so there are plenty of historic bodegas clustered together, mostly in and around the small town of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, where you can sample Cava and see how it’s made. The town is within easy reach of cosmopolitan Barcelona, so when you tire of sipping Cava with your tapas in the bars of the city, then you can journey 45 minutes into the surrounding countryside and get an insight into its roots.
Visit Penedes, home of the Cava region
Spain has been making its renowned sparkling wine in Penedès since the late 19th century, when some of its most historic Cava bodega were founded. However, unlike much sparkling wine around the world, Cava is not produced from Champagne grapes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Penedès boast its own triad of indigenous grapes which are used in the production of Cava, endowing it with a more Spanish identity and clearly expressing its origins. Most Cava is still produced from Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel.lo, which each lend the finished wine part of its unique character. Interestingly, these varieties were only planted in quantity in the region after the devastation caused by phylloxera, the louse that decimated most of Europe’s vineyards at the end of the 19th century. Prior to that Penedès was mainly a red grape growing area and it was only due to an increased interest in sparkling wine that the region changed its focus to white grapes. So, the Cava region owes its success, in part, to the voracious little insect and the town of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia strangely celebrates the pest in its Fest de la Fil.loxera during September, when you might encounter locals dressed up as insects amid dancing and fireworks.
Explore beautiful historic wine cellars and stunning vineyards
Discover a region steeped in history and dotted with beautiful Modernista architecture from the likes of Gaudí. Visit the region’s wine museum in Vilafranca del Penedès and learn about the history of one of Spain’s most exciting wine regions. Wine has been made on the varied terroir of Penedès for centuries and both historic and trailblazing major wineries continue this tradition until today. You can taste innovative still wines as well as the region’s most famous export, Cava, in stunning wine cellars dating back to the nineteenth century, wander the vineyards in the shadow of the majestic Monserrat mountains and discover the region’s wide range of terroirs in the Cava region.
Spain’s most exciting wine region – blending tradition and innovation
The winemakers of Catalonia are known for their innovation. Not content to turn the Cava bottles by hand each day, they took the sweat out of this laborious task by inventing the gyropalette to do this for them. However, they don’t only innovate in the production process but also in the ingredients for their wine. Although Cava is typically a blend and nine varieties are allowed in its production, leading winemakers are increasingly experimenting with single varietal wines or changing the balance of varieties to play with the character of the wine. The region has also recently added an additional layer to their quality pyramid with the legalisation of single-vineyard Cava, meaning you can enjoy unique styles of wines with real personality from the region’s top vineyards, now recognised as Cava de Paraje Calificado.
Our local wine experts at Wine Paths will help you discover the Penedès Cava region, Spain’s most intriguing combination of tradition and innovation.
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