Historic Geographical Classifications for Cava

7th August 2020

Co op Cava Irresistible

As just about everyone knows, the wineries that elaborate Spain’s prominent sparkling wine, Cava, are distributed all over the country. Although the vast majority of these producers are located in the Catalonia region in the northeast corner of the country, there are several dozen others located in various other regions, some as far as 950 kilometres distant from the recognized Cava Capital, Sant Sadurní d’ Anoia near Barcelona. Such is the case of the five wineries located in Almendralejo, Badajoz in the southwest corner of Spain, not too far from the border with Portugal.

Over the last several years, many of the Catalonian cava producers have repeatedly intended to convince the Cava D.O. Regulatory Board (Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen) to create geographic indications according to the specific localities where they were established, in order to differentiate the Catalonian sparkling wines from those produced in the other regions. These attempts were to no avail, so, in the year 2013, a dozen of these wineries disassociated from the Cava D.O. and established the Clàssic Penedès denomination within the Penedès D.O., which by the way also regulates still wine production. Further on in 2017, six of the most prestigious cava producers created Corpinnat, with very strict conditions regarding vineyards, grape varieties and qualities, elaboration, ageing and limited to the Penedès area. Recently, these three entities announced the intention to create a new Denomination of Origin for sparkling wines made by these 31 producers, all within the Penedès area.

The Cava D.O. has not been idle during these last several months, even during the Covid crisis. Late last year, the Board announced the creation of four specific geographic zones according to the major regions within the Cava D.O. These geographic identifications will apparently be included (optionally) in labels so that consumers will be able to know where the cava was made. These four zones are: Comtat de Barcelona (Earldom of Barcelona) which includes the Penedès and other areas in the province of Barcelona, the Valle del Ebro (Ebro river valley) which takes in the thirteen producers in the Rioja, Navarra and Aragón regions, Vinos de Almendralejo (Almendralejo Wines) – the five wineries in this town, and the yet to be defined name for the ten Valencia region producers, tentatively established as Altos Requenenses (Requena Highlands). The Catalonian zone includes four sub-zones; Penedès and Alella in Barcelona, Tarragona and Conca de Barberá also in Tarragona, and Costers de Segre in Lleida.

The Cava D.O. has also created three quality terms which define the geographic zones and the various sub-zones within these zones. These are:

– First Level: Regionalization by geographic and climatic conditions as established by the D.O. for the four principal geographic zones.

– Second Level: Sub-zones defined by specific climatic, orographic, historic or human conditions that justify the specific classification and coincide with existing wine regions.

– Third Level: Paraje Calificado (Specific Site or Single Estate) defined by the identification of the specific parcels that make up the zone including soils, climate and vines that differentiate these from the surroundings.


Another important step taken by the Cava D.O. was the recent creation of two new quality levels, complementary to the previously established quality categories, Cava Premium and Cava de Paratge (Singular Estate Cava). These new classifications are Cava de Guarda with minimum in-bottle ageing of nine months and Cava de Guarda Superior with more than eighteen months ageing. Again, the intentions of the D.O. are to elevate quality recognition for consumers.


The COVID 19 crisis has seriously hurt many cava producers and in fact, there are several that have not been able to survive the reduced sales both within Spain as well as in international markets. In fact, there are some that will not harvest grapes this year, harvesting usually begins in early or mid August and goes through September and even into October depending on varieties and specific locations. The Cava D.O. has even reduced the maximum harvest per hectare from 12,000 to 10,000 kilogrammes. Nearly all cava, as well as many still wine producers, have their cellars and warehouses nearly overstocked so to speak, without space for this year’s vintage.

Written by George Potter

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