Leading Penedes winemaker Raventos I Blanc – which quit the Cava DO because of ‘poor image and low standards’ – has unveiled the framework for a new sparkling wine appellation.
The proposed designation, named Conca Del Riu Anoia, will significantly deviate from the existent Cava DO.
‘After 150 years, Cava has become a solely volume-oriented DO with no geographical distinction in terms of climate and soils, it has a poor image; with low viticultural standards. For this reason, we decided to start from the beginning and create a quality orientated designation for our wines,’ owner Pepe Raventos told Decanter.com.
Raventos is not alone in criticising the Cava DO: by November last year around nine producers had left.
Conca Del Riu Anoia is intended to form a very small geographical area surrounding the Anoia River valley between the Anoia and Foix Rivers in eastern Penedes.
A key aspect of the appellation is a severe tightening of the current rules of production, Raventos explained.
‘Under our rules, producers must pay growers a minimum of 1€/Kg – the current price averages €0.20/Kg – the vineyards must be organically certified, at least ten years old and yields will be set at a maximum of 10,000kg/ha,’ Raventos said.
‘We are also increasing the minimum period on the lees from 9 to 18 months and only indigenous varieties can be used,’ he added.
The Cava DO stipulates that companies can include domestic and international varieties, including Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with no rules as to the composition of the blend.
The Raventos family will submit their proposal to the Consejo Regulador this spring.
However, some wineries have criticised Raventos’ plans and remain committed to working inside the DO framework.
‘It seems quite cowardly to us, as it’s clearly easier to abandon the DO than to fight for change,’ Eva Plazas, senior winemaker at Vilarnua said.
Josep Albet, current president of the Penedes consejo regulador, has recommended making significant changes to the appellation rules in response to this move by Raventos and others.
In order to combat the growing crisis, Albet has advised making significant changes to the appellation rules, including increasing the minimal time the wine is in contact with the lees from 12 to 15 months.
‘We need to emphasise that Cava is a high quality, unique product,’ Albet said.