Cava is one of the most underrated sparkling wines, with the best Cavas rivalling Champagne and other top fizz. Fresh and vibrant when young, gathering complexity with age, it offers seriously good value for money.
Those who make Cava have the option of using Spanish indigenous grapes such as Macebeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, although some prefer to use those used in Champagne – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – for a little more French character.
Cava is made in the same way as Champagne, but while many people think it has to be made in Catalonia, it can made throughout Spain, with no geographical restrictions – unlike in Champagne, whose vineyard area is tightly controlled. That said, those who regulate Cava have expressed an interest tightening up the rules and introducing a series of regulated regions.
Not only that, but it was announced this year that all top-tier Cavas – those labelled Reserva, Gran Reserva and Paraje Calificado – must be 100% organic by 2025.
Cava performed well at this year’s IWSC, picking up a host of Gold and Silver medals. Roger Goulart Josep Valls Gran Reserva Extra Brut 2014 scored an impressive 96/100pts, wowing the judges with its vibrant citrus, lemongrass and floral aromas, with notes of brioche, honey and lemon peel on the palate.
Two narrowly missed out on Gold, but still scored 94/100pts: the crisp, elegant Jaume Serra Gran Reserva Chardonnay Brut Nature 2016 and the riper and richer Rovellats Masia S. Xv Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2011, which displayed notes of almond, biscuit and ripe fruit.
Each Cava entered in this year’s IWSC was judged blind by an expert panel. Chairing the panel was Dirceu Vianna Junior MW, joined by fellow Masters of Wine Simon Field and Alistair Cooper, sommeliers Matteo Montone and Svetoslav Manolev, JetVine director Kelly Stevenson and wine educator Melissa Worrall.
Cava has made great strides in recent years, and is making a concerted effort to take on Champagne at its own game. We are proud to present the pick of the best Cavas from this year’s IWSC.
Eight of the best Cavas in 2021
- Roger Goulart, Josep Valls Gran Reserva Extra Brut 2014. Spain; 96/100
- Jaume Serra, Gran Reserva Chardonnay Brut Nature 2016. Spain; 94/100
- Rovellats, Masia S. Xv Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2011. Spain; 94/100
- Covides, Terra Terrae Brut NV. Spain; 93/100
- Marqués de la Concordia, Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2015. Spain; 92/100
- Vallformosa, Gala Reserva Brut Nature 2018. Spain; 91/100
- Morrisons, The Best Marqués de Los Rios Brut 2018. Spain; 90/100
- Rexach Baqués, Brut Nature 2016. Spain; 90/100
HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE WINES?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous wine tasting process. That means that each wine sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC wine judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the wine industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
HOW DO WE SCORE THESE WINES?
Only the best wines sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, wines have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
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