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Cava splits in danger of ‘utterly baffling’ consumers

Published:  29 April, 2019

Xavier Gramona of breakaway Cava group Corpinnat has warned that the collective industry is in danger of becoming too confusing for consumers unless it agrees on a clear path forward.

Interviewed for Harpers, Gramona, whose eponymous winery left the Cava DO in January 2019 as part of the self-styled premium Corpinnat designation, said that the industry was “in danger becoming too splintered”, with myriad DOs, groupings and even breakaway labels – ditching the Cava name - appearing on the market.

“Currently, producers can market a sparkling wine under the Cava 'brand,' under the Corpinnat designation, under the DO Penedes designation and even the generic Spain-wide ‘Vi Escumós de Qualitat’ certification,” he said in an interview with Harpers.

“In addition, the authorities introduced another designation in 2013 – ‘Clàssic Penedès’ - an appellation within DO Penedes that offered an alternative path for those producing quality sparkling wine who wished to leave DO Cava.”

This is “baffling” and potentially “alienating” for consumers, argued Gramona, who stressed the need for a clear designation that allowed those same consumers to understand and purchase premium Cava from its traditional heartland of Penedes.

Gramona, who is joint-president of Corpinnat, was a major driver in setting up the body, officially known as L’Associació d’Elaboradors i Viticultors Corpinnat (AVEC - The Association of Wine Producers and Growers Corpinnat), with a primary aim of creating “a stricter and terroir-driven sparkling wine designation within Penedes”, along with stricter premium-focused production values. More producers are understood to be in the process of joining.

Corpinnat is lobbying the Cava DO for the word Corpinnat to be allowed to appear on the label alongside Cava, which Gramona said is being blocked by pressure from the three largest producers, which also make Cava outside of Penedes.

“There is no great wine appellation in the world that doesn't protect its integrity of origin,” said Gramona, adding: “Unfortunately, the industry is controlled by just three producers - Freixenet, Codorníu, and García Carrión – and they set the DO's agenda.”

Gramona says he is still looking for a way to rejoin the Cava DO, indicating that discussion are ongoing with the new Consejo Regulador president Javier Pages, but that initial hopes that Corpinnat could be included alongside the word Cava have been blocked unless demands that Cava refer only to Penedes produced wines are dropped by Corpinnat.

“Spanish wine is reaching a maturity. Producers are rebelling against the ‘cheap image’ of our wines, reinforced by the big brands and their colleagues in the Consejo Reguladors - this is our moment,” said Gramona, clearly still in fighting spirit.

The full interveiw with Xavier Gramona can be found here