Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Spanish sparkling wines made using the traditional method of sparkling winemaking. The term Cava was adopted by the Spanish in 1970 when they agreed to abandon the use of the potentially misleading term Champaña. The word originates in cataluña, which produces most but not all Cava, where it means ‘cellar’. It was here in the town of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia that José Raventós, head of the family firm of codorníu, made the first bottles of traditional method sparkling wine after a visit to France in 1872. Early growth in the industry coincided with the arrival of the phylloxera louse, which first appeared in Catalan vineyards in the 1880s. Vineyards that had once made sturdy red wines had to be uprooted and were replanted with macabeo, parellada, and xarello, the triad of grape varieties which is the mainstay of the Cava industry to this day. In 1889, the Raventos family were joined by Pedro Ferrer, who founded the firm of freixenet. Codorníu and Freixenet, both still family owned, are now two of the largest sparkling wine producers in the world, with their own winery outposts in california.