Couple enjoying a glasss of cava

Hello every one,

Many of us, we love bubbles, but sometime it’s not exactly clear what we are drinking and we use the terms Cava or Champagne indistinctly when talking about sparkling wines.

Sure they have some differences and particularities that make them unique and we’ll try to describe some of them in this post, so you can enjoy even more you next bottle of sparkling, either Cava or Champagne.

  1. PRODUCTION METHOD

The main similarity it’s their production method known as “Champenoise” or “Traditional”: where after the first fermentation and before bottling the wine, the “liqueur de tirage” is added, it’s a mixture of yeast and sugar is added to induce the secondary fermentation (recipes and quantities are well-kept secrets giving each cava or champagne its personality).

(buscar imagen explicativa del proceso). The wine undergoes then a secondary fermentation inside the bottle, creating the bubbles naturally, as the resulting carbon dioxide remains trapped in the bottle.

The main differences are.

     2. ORIGIN

Cava: Sparkling wine from specific regions in Spain. Ours, for instances come from Valencia region in a small town called Requena.

CAVA Production Areas map

Champagne: Sparkling wine from a specific region in France.

Champagne Production Area Map

3CLIMATE

The climate is close related to its Origin.

Cava: It’s mainly produced in the Mediterranean region, enjoying a sunny climate with little rain. The grapes are therefore less acid than in Champagne. But to get that higher acidity needed for the second fermentation in the bottle, you need to harvest them early (beginning in mid-August).

Annual average temperature is 15.5ºC, rainfall in this area is less than 500 mm., With an average of 2,700 hours / year of sunshine.

Champagne: It is located near Paris, around the town of Epernay. The climate is Atlantic, rainy and cold. Champagne grapes have higher acidity but a lower alcoholic degree. , that’s why it is necessary to “chaptalize”, ie adding sugar to achieve grade. This procedure is totally forbidden for Cava.

Annual average temperature is 9ºC, rainfall in this area exceeds 750 mm., With an average of 1,750 hours / year of sunshine.

     4. “ MILLESIME – VINTAGE”

Precisely the climate difference between the two areas makes more irregular vintages in Champagne and that’s why Champagne is usually a blend of wines from different years. Only when the vintage of a particular year is exceptional, it’s not mixed with others and if so, it’s indicated on the label with the word “Millésime”, whereas Cava is always made with wines of the same vintage.

  5. GRAPE VARIETIES

Unlike cava, champagne is a sparkling white wine made with a high percentage of red grapes.

Cava: The local white grape varieties are three: Macabeo, Parellada and Xarello. Being the only wine region in the world where they are used as a basis for the development of a sparkling, they give a marked personality to the product. Where the Macabeo gives aromatic and fruity wines, the Xarel.lo gives the wine body, strength and longevity and the Parellada brings finesse and softness

They are also authorized Subirat or Malvasia and Chardonnay.

For making rose Cava the red varieties used are: Garnacha, Monastrell, Pinot Noir and Trepat

Champagne: The local white grape is Chardononnay, along with the res varieties, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but venified in the same way as if they were white, that is, without removing the skin color. Making it a quite particukar blend, where the Chardonnay gives the wine lightness and freshness, the Pinot Noir brings consistency, body and longevity to the blend and the Pinot Meunier fruity aromas.

When the Champagne is made only with Chardonnay it’s called “Blanc de Blancs” if it’s a blend of red and white varieties it’s known as “blanc de noirs”.

For making rose Champagne the varieties used are: Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

     6. STORAGE 

Once the second fermentation has been done in the bottle, they must be stored in the cellars before been released to the market.

Cava: The minimum aging period is 9 months.

Champagne: The minimum aging period is 15 months.

With 15 months a Cava can be labeled as “Reserva” and “Gran Reserva” if it has made at least 30 months of aging. The Champagne “Millésime” must have a minimum of 36 months aging to be considered “Gran Reserva”.

7. STYLE 

When we read on the label the words “brut nature”, “brut”, “dry”, etc … are not indicative of product quality, but simply the sugar grams content in the bottle and this is a similarity between both sparkling wines.

To compensate for the loss in the bottle after the disgorgement the “licor de expedición” (for Cava) “liqueur de dosage” (for Champagne) is added.  It’s a blend of old wine, liqueur and sugar, which determines the type of cava or champagne. Again (recipes and quantities are well-kept secrets giving each cava or champagne its personality).

  • Brut Nature (less than 3 g/l)
  • Extra-Brut(less than 6 g/l)
  • Brut(less than 15 g/l)
  • Extra Secoo Extra Sec (between 12 & 20 g/l)
  • Seco o Sec(between 17 & 35 g/l)
  • Semi Seco o Demi-Sec (between 33 & 50 g/l)
  • Dulce o Doux (more than 50 g/l)

We hope this information has been useful and now you enjoy your sparkling wines even more.

Cheers!!!!!!

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Categories: General, Wines

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