Excellence sets the tone at the first Cava Meeting in Barcelona
30th November 2023
Barcelona, 28th November 2023. The first edition of the CAVA D.O.’s international congress, Cava Meeting, has finished – and it was a resounding success. A number of the world’s most influential opinion-leaders gathered in Barcelona to participate in an exceptional conference at Barcelona’s Espai de Transformació Creativa Casa Rius, combining tastings of premium Cavas, top-level presentations, and visits to leading wineries. As the president of the Regulatory Council, Javier Pagés, pointed out, “It is clear that Cava, which is open to so many amazing possibilities, is having a quite a moment”. Javier Pagés, who sees a promising future for the sector, also remarked that some of the most prestigious international prescriptors who took part in the great event “were very surprised by the superb quality of our Cavas”. At the Cava Meeting, the focus was on the highest-level Cavas, those of Guarda Superior, showing that the sector’s path at this event is marked by excellence. Other important themes addressed at this first edition of the Cava Meeting were the gastronomic vocation of Cava, concern for the effects of climate change, and the sector’s economic and social sustainability. Javier Pagés explained that Cava is ideal for celebrating, and is a perfect partner for gastronomy. He also insisted that, “We must know how to communicate about Cava, and be prouder and more ambitious”.
More than 250 references of Cava were tasted during the event, served in 5,000 glasses, and around 25 Cava wineries were visited. In total, there were 22 speakers during two packed days, and showrooms with 50 producers. The importance of the segmentation and zoning of the D.O. CAVA, as well as the emerging Elaboradores Integrales (Integral Producers, a group that now comprises 15 Cava wineries), was the focus of the debates and tastings at a meeting attended by many of the world’s foremost opinion leaders from diverse markets such as Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland, as well as Spain. The international congress was designed by a committee of specialists, formed by the Master of Wine Sarah Jane Evans, Pedro Ballesteros, the sommelier Ferran Centelles, and the specialised journalist, sommelier, and Cava trainer, Ramon Francàs. The conference was organised by D.O. CAVA, and was led by journalists Yolanda Ortiz de Arri and Ruth Troyano.
The presentations and tastings were compered by the Master of Wine Pedro Ballesteros, who introduced the participants to the world of the Cavas of the Integral Winemakers (Agustí Torelló Mata, Alta Alella, Cava Avinyó, Blancher, Bodegas Escudero, Can Suriol, Celler Carles Andreu, Cava Gatell, Giró del Gorner, Juvé & Camps, Parató Vinícola, Parés Baltà, Torné & Bel, Vins el Cep and Vins Familia Ferrer – Can Sala). Further outstanding masterclasses were given by Josep Roca, sommelier and maître d’ at the three-Michelin-starred restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, who pointed out that “If El Celler de Can Roca were a wine, it would be a Cava”; and by Ferran Centelles, who aimed to exemplify the considerable gastronomic versatility of the most exported Spanish wine. After the presentation by the sommelier from Girona, attendees tasted “The magic of the most iconic wine”. The sommelier Jordi Paronella (from chef José Andrés’ restaurant group) and Ramon Francàs Martorell, also a sommelier as well as a specialised journalist for the newspaper La Vanguardia, toured the wineries of Cavas de Guarda Superior de Paraje Calificado, and those that take their Cava ageing one step further: the third crianza. In this unique tasting, the attendees tasted iconic Cavas from Alta Alella, Agustí Torelló Mata, Blancher, Codorníu, Juvé & Camps, Mestres, Pere Ventura, Vins El Cep and Vins Família Ferrer – Can Sala. They were blown away by a spectacular Blancher from the 1975 vintage that had been disgorged in 1978.
An analysis of the weight and importance afforded to Cava in the leading national and international specialised media showed that, given their great potential, the international perception of these wines could be improved. This session was moderated by journalist Yolanda Ortiz de Arri, and included the participation of Master of Wine Sarah Jane Evans, journalist Amaya Cervera, from El País Semanal and Spanish Wine Lover; Jamie Goode, columnist for The Sunday Express; Doug Frost, one of only three people in the world who simultaneously hold the titles of Master of Wine and Master Sommelier, and who is a reference in the US wine sector; and the gastronomic influencer and ambassador for D.O. CAVA, Rafael Antonín.
Tuesday’s sessions began with a fascinating round-table discussion on how to create greater value in the Cava business. The internationalisation of Cava, and how to build, and add value to, the Cava brand worldwide was debated in a presentation moderated by Sarah Jane Evans Master of Wine, and with the participation of Pedro Ferrer, vice-president and CEO of the Freixenet Group; Meritxell Juvé, CEO and 4th generation of Juvé & Camps; Jaume Vial, commercial director of Mestres; Marc Morillas, CEO of the brand consultancy Morillas; Juan Manuel Bellver, director of Lavinia Spain; and Álvaro Ribalta MW. One conclusion was that focusing on communication is essential, and many agreed on the importance of the sector’s unity.
This session was followed by an interesting discussion moderated by sommelier Ferran Centelles, in which Jordi Paronella, Nieves Barragán, and Agustín Trapero spoke about Cava and gastronomy. After that, there was a presentation on the scientific challenges facing Cava by Marco Simonit, from the Simonit & Sirch pruning method, who analysed 21st-century viticulture and future technologically-advanced grape-growing and harvesting systems designed to face climate change. The role of lees and cork stoppers was also discussed by oenologist, researcher and professor at the Faculty of Oenology of the Rovira i Virgili University of Tarragona, Joan Miquel Canals.
On its second day, the Cava Meeting also delved deeper into examining the different origins of Cava, reviewing the diverse characteristics of the D.O. CAVA’s zoning, through different Cavas representative of the various production areas. The speakers were Pedro Ballesteros MW, Ferran Centelles, and José Hidalgo Camacho, technical director of Bodegas Vicente Gandía, taking a tour through the Cava territory with the wineries Alta Alella, Bodegas Hispano Suizas, Cavas Guilera, Celler Carles Andreu, Codorníu, Juvé & Camps, Pagos de Tharsys, Sumarroca and Vins Familia Ferrer.
Afterwards, Ferran Centelles also analysed all the issues involved in serving Cava, together with Joaquín T. Limonero, Professor of Psychology, and Head of the Stress and Health Research Group, at the Department of Basics, Developmental and Educational Psychology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona; Guilherme Mantovani, Sales Manager at Riedel; and Anna Vicens, President of the Associació de Sommellier de Catalunya.
The ‘journey to the excellence of Cava‘ that opened the Cava Meeting marks the qualitative path that the D.O. CAVA has set for itself, in its ambitious Strategic Plan for the coming years.
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.