Want to know more about cava wines? Read our expert guide, then check out our guides on the best champagne, prosecco and summer wines.


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Not as costly as champagne, nor as popular as prosecco, cava is often overlooked when it comes to sparkling wine. For many years, Spain’s trademark fizz was rather frowned upon, seen only as cheap and cheerful pop for parties but, while it still gives bargain bubbles crisper and less sweet than most proseccos, there are now many more serious and complex cavas that can be counted among the world’s best and most interesting sparklers.

Most cava is made in the Penedès region, immediately to the west of Barcelona, whose dynamic wine-making scene has improved the range and quality hugely in the past few years. Large producers have really upped their games in making fantastic value cavas in different styles, while a growing number of boutique wineries are embracing low-intervention methods to make wines of character and distinction, often using traditional grape varieties and techniques from the region. The hot, dry climate suits organic and biodynamic viticulture, so it’s not surprising that those wines are common.

Unlike most proseccos, which get their bubbles from a secondary fermentation in large metal tanks, all cavas must undergo this process in the bottle, as is the way in Champagne. The longer they spend ageing in contact with the resulting sediment, called the lees, the fuller and richer the flavours will be when the lees are removed and the finished wine is ready for sale. Nine months on the lees is the legal minimum for cava but this can be as much as three years or more.

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Some maverick makers are reviving the ancestrale method, when bubbles are the result of the wine being bottled before the first fermentation is complete, known as pet nats (pétillant-naturel).

Cavas tend to be very good with food – think tapas and you won’t go far wrong. Crisps, nuts and ceviches or sashimi are great with simpler wines, while those with more age love anything fried – fish or perhaps croquetas. Pet-nats can carry more robust flavours and make a fine companion to a summery centrepiece paella.

4 of the best cava wines to try at a glance

  • 07Best luxury cava: Partida Creus VN Rojo, £22.35
  • Best balanced cava: Bocchoris Brut NV, £17
  • Best champagne alternative: Pere Ventura Cava, £12.95
  • Best non-alcoholic cava: Vilarnau 0% Sparkling Rosé, £8

4 of the best cava wines to try

Partida Creus VN Rojo

A bottle of Partida Creus VN Rojo

Best luxury cava

A rare red pet-nat, made with a blend of indigenous grapes fermented with native yeasts. Light and juicy with a sour-cherry crunch and a bit of farmyard funk; a fine partner for hake.

Available from:
Juiced Wines (£22.35)

Bocchoris Brut NV

A bottle of Bocchoris Brut NV

Best balanced cava

A blend of traditional of cava grapes (xarel-lo, macabeo and parellada) aged for 20 months in some of Spain's oldest cellars and bottled without any added sulphites. Very elegant and poised, with soft, creamy bubbles. Lovely with the crab and prawn cocktail rolls.

Available from:
Reserved Wines (£17)

Pere Ventura Cava

A bottle of Pere Ventura Cava

Best champagne alternative

A rich, toasty fizz that's spent 18 months on the lees and could pass for a decent champagne at twice the price.

Available from:
The Great Wine Co. (£12.95)

Vilarnau 0% Sparkling Rosé

A bottle of Vilarnau 0% Sparkling Rose

Best non-alcoholic cava

A pretty organic rosé for those that want the fun of fizz without the hit of alcohol. Summer pudding fruitiness with pink grapefruit zest, it’s made for drinking on a hot sunny day.

Available from:
Amazon (£8)


Check out more wine guides here:

Best champagne to buy
Best Sancerre wines to buy
Best cava wines to buy
Best albariño wines to buy
Best vinho verde wines to buy
Best pinot noir to buy
Best Rieslings to buy
Best chenin blancs to buy
Best madeira wines to buy


Kate HawkingsWine Columnist

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