Cava and Champagne; both bid for a place at the Christmas table to toast for the new year. But what are the differences and the similarities between these two “cousins”?

What are they?
Champagne is the denomination used to refer to the most famous sparkling wine in the world. Of French origin, it is produced in the region of the same name. Their motto: Champagne only comes from Champagne, France.
Cava is the denomination used to refer to the Spanish sparkling. It is made in the Cava Region, a group of Spanish municipalities. It is mainly produced in the Penedés region of Catalonia, but it is also made in other parts of Spain like Aragón, Rioja, Valencia and Extremadura.

The grapes.
Champagne works with 3 different grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Normally, the production includes both grape types, white and red; when the Champagne is made using exclusively the white, Chardonnay variety, the Champagne is called “Blanc de Blancs”, very appreciated and sought after due to its scarcity.
The Cava A.O. use mostly 3 types of grape: Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parellada, all white varieties, confering a personality of its own.

The climate.
The Champagne region is located in the northwest of France, under the influence of Atlantic climate, cold and rainy, resulting in more acid grapes, not fully ripen. In order to counter the acidity, the wine must be “chaptalised”, that is, sugar must be added to obtain a higher alcohol degree and to balance the final result.
The grapes used for Cava are grown under the sunnier, also dryer, Mediterranean climate. The increased sun exposition produces sweeter grapes and makes “chaptalization” unnecessary.

The bottling.
When bottling Champagne, it is common to blend different vintages, also called reserve wines. Although, for truly exceptional years, the winemaker may decide not to use reserve wines at all and elaborate what it is called a “millesime” or “vintage” Champagne. On the other hand, the norm when making Cava is to use one vintage alone.

Both wines are made according to the traditional method of production, the “Champenoise”, developed by the Benedictine monk Dom Perignon at the end of the 17th century. According to this method, the second fermentation takes place in the bottle. Sealed, the CO2 produced cannot escape and is finally blended with the wine.

The one is no better nor worse than the other, they are simply different because the different circumstances confer each one a special character of their own. For this reason, at, we put both at your disposal to enjoy and tell us which one is your favourite.

Categories: Sparkling Wines

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