The changes, which will focus on highlighting the wines’ origin and on stricter regulations, are aimed at increasing the public’s perception of cava as a premium product.
‘Cava’s image is currently suffering from a lack of definition,’ Pagés told Imbibe, ‘and it now needs to communicate its quality better.’
Currently, cava can be made in a variety of non-contiguous Spanish wine regions spanning from Catalonia in the north east to Extremadura in Spain’s south west. To better communicate cava’s origin to consumers, the consejo regulador is set to implement a two-tier geographical classification.
The first tier will be regional, and feature four or five macro-regions such as Catalonia and Extremadura. The second tier will instead concern more specific subregions such as Tarragona, Conca de Barberà and Penedès.
Indicating the origin of the fruit will be mandatory at both reserva and gran reserva level, while it will be optional for simple cava.
Pagés said that the proposal is pending approval, which he’s expecting will happen by early next year, with producers allowed to implement changes starting with the 2020 vintage.
Winemaking and viticultural practices will be affected too. Minimum maturation in cask for reserva wines will increase from 15 to 18 months while maximum yields will decrease to 10 tonnes per hectare. Furthermore, all reservas and gran reservas will have to be organic, coming from 10yo vine material minimum, and be vintage or multi-vintage dated.
Alongside the new regulations, Pagés is committed to better promote the Cava de Paraje. This super-premium category was implemented over two years ago but despite its potential, hasn't yet shown any tangible benefit on increasing people’s perception of cava.
‘It’s a path that we have undertaken,’ said Pagés, ‘but it’s one that we need to reinforce.’