Cava’s coming of age

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Photograph: Jason Lowe.

Photograph: Jason Lowe.

Our tasting last month featured some wonderful new additions to our Spanish offer that reflect just how extensive – and diverse – it has become. None reflect the quality of the country’s vinous industry more succinctly than Raventós i Blanc, a family-owned maker of exceptional sparkling wines since 1497. Here their International and Marketing Director, Sabina Grino, shares her thoughts on the importance of provenance and its decision to break free from the Cava D.O.

Where we are based is vitally important to our wines. It is the land that gives our wines their unique characteristics and nature. Then there are the requirements that we set for creating our wines, from using only local varietals – because they have adapted best to the land historically – to our belief that producers should have a minimum of half their wine made from their own grapes.

We left the Cava D.O. because it has evolved into something that is more focused on the method of winemaking rather than the origins. We have now created a new designation, Conca Del Riu Anoia, which focuses entirely on the area in which we make our wines. We are based near the Anoia River in the Catalan region of Penedès, close to the Mediterranean, and we believe that the river influences in some way the identity of the grapes, differentiating them from the rest of the Penedès. You can taste that salinity and minerality that comes from the terroir there. It’s the most important thing in the world to our wines.

The Raventós family has been working the same land for 500 years. When you taste the wines you realise that each one expresses our values and who we are. For instance our De Nit Rosé is a very different rosé from what you might expect: it’s a Monastrell which is a local varietal, and we do nothing to enhance its colour – it is like that from the beginning.

We abide by 100 percent organic and biodynamic viticulture. We do not use any chemicals and some plots we only work on using animals; even the way we work with the grapes has a benefit on the results – all the collection is done by hand, and we use small crates to ensure the grapes don’t become oxidised or damaged during the collection process.

Our leader, Pepe Raventós, is maintaining our high standards because this really is a dream for him. I think he makes these wines without realising he is translating the values that have come through from 21 generations of his family. It’s not that he makes any extra effort on that front, it comes naturally for him. That honesty is evident in the wines.

Cava is very much linked to the culture and the heart of the people there – whether they work in the wine industry or not. It is simply the land of Cava. So with us breaking free from the D.O. sometimes people here ask ‘Why did you leave Cava?’ but this comes more from the heart than anything. We’re still here, working with the same people; we’ll never leave. This move is for the benefit of everyone because we are keeping the quality of our sparkling wines as it should be, where they can compete with Champagnes around the world. I think in the UK, and London in particular, there is a greater appreciation of Cava now. Maybe the popularity of English sparkling wines and the concept of terroir there are helping us also.

Discover this year’s offer, Spain 2014: The Golden Route, on bbr.com.