Cava palaver

Photo courtesy of @bespokedrinksEU.

I led a masterclass about Reserva and Gran Reserva cava today, at the FIZZ tasting in London. These wines only represent around 10% of the total annual production of cava, but they have a very important role to play. As the top tiers of the classification, they need to represent the best quality the appellation can achieve.

If they are convincing, that lifts the category as a whole - the trade is motivated to list these wines and champion them to their customers, and producers are in turn incentivised to improve quality. Easy!

In practice, of course, the sparkling wine sector is hugely competitive - not least because it is the only sector of the UK wine market that is actually growing at the moment. That means that everybody is pushing the same message. Furthermore, cava producers have to shift large volumes of non-Reserva wine - something like 220 million bottles a year, in fact.

Something else they are battling against is a perception that their name equates to cheap and nasty wine - just yesterday, a fellow wine professional put it to me this way: 'they taste of baby sick.' Debating the accuracy of this descriptor is not the point: there's just as much crap champagne and prosecco on the market, yet their reputation stays largely untainted.

As it happens, I think cava is getting better across the board - though inevitably, poor quality cava still exists. If the focus shifts towards emphasising how good cava can be, then the really bad stuff should become a thing of the past.

And improving quality in any category is something the whole wine industry can support, surely.