Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Organic sparkling wine DO move sparks new Cava rift

Published:  17 September, 2019

Corpinnat and Classic Penedès producers in Catalonia have joined forces in a bid to create the world’s first certified organic sparkling wine Denominación de Origen (DO-PDO).

The new initiative is the latest twist in the saga of the Cava crisis, which has led to dozens of Penedès producers leaving the Cava DO over the past five years.

Producer and former chairman of the Penedès DO, Josep-Maria Albet i Noya, said the new DO would provide protection on quality production and a guarantee of provenance to consumers.

“We do not want to use the name Cava or be associated with Cava, this is about quality organic sparkling wine from the Penedès,” he said.

Under current plans for the new DO, he said Corpinnat producers would lie at the top of a tiered quality pyramid structure for organic sparkling wines.

“Corpinnat will be like Grands Crus, on top of the pyramid,” Albet i Noya, told Harpers.

He said the name of the new DO – which is currently under discussion - would reflect the territory of the Penedès without using the word Penedès to distinguish it from the Penedès DO - an appellation best known for its still wine production.

The creation of the DO would bring 18 Classic Penedès producers and nine producers from Corpinnat under the same DO.

However, the Cava DO accused the producers of "disloyalty". In a statement it said: “We profoundly regret the decision from producers to exclude themselves from the Cava DO’s current process of renewal, which involves the restructure of Cava to adapt it to new present an future challenges,” it said.

The Cava DO’s strategic plan contemplated segmentation and guarantees of quality and the promotion of cava, it added.

Albet i Noya, however said dozens of growers and producers had already expressed an interest in joining the future new organic sparking wine DO.

Rebel producers have long accused the Cava DO of protecting the interests of big Cava producers including Codorniu, Henkell-Freixenet and Garcia Carrion.

They say these three producers make large quantities of low-cost production. The three main Cava producers make about 75% of the 250 million bottles of Cava produced each year. This year their decision to dramatically reduce grape prices for growers sparked strike action on September 5th.

The Spanish government’s decision to increase the Cava DO’s production area by 6,000ha since 2015, which could lead to 72 million kilos of grapes coming onto the market in the next few years, has fuelled further discontent in the Penedès.

“The new DO is about quality sparkling wine produced from a specific territory, where as Cava DO is made in several areas of Spain,” a spokesman at Corpinnat said.

He said talks between Corpinnat and Classic Penedès sparkling wine producers over the creation of a new DO started six months ago.

Corpinnat producers left the Cava DO last year after it refused to allow Corpinnat to operate within the Cava DO.

Having left the Cava DO, Classic Penedes producers launched their own organic sparkling wine association within the Penedès DO in 2014.

Both Classic Penedès and Corpinnat producers have strict rules on provenance and quality organic production in which cava made from base wine produced elsewhere is prohibited.

Classic Penedès sparkling wines have to be aged for at least 15 months, whilst Corpinnat wines are aged for at least 18 months. Their sparkling wines are made from hand-harvested grapes and low yields.

He said the creation of a new DO was preferable to an option of entering the existing Penedès DO.

“The Penedès DO is mainly known for its still wine production. There are also still wine producers here who make Cava in the Cava DO, so a new DO would bring order and clarity to the situation,” he said.

“One idea, which has not yet been approved, would be to establish a new DO that would be governed by the existing regulatory board of the Penedès DO. It would be a bit like Jerez where the board oversees several DOs in its territory.”

He said talks between Classic Penedès, the Penedès DO and Corpinnat were progressing well. “The next step will be to establish an legal agreement and then present it to the Catalan government for approval,” he said.