Anna Lopez Lidon of Gramona on Cava
This show was published 28 November 2008
Anna Lopez Lidon is the export manager at Gramona, a Cava producer in Penedes, Spain. We discuss how Cava is produced, the dosage and the debate over international vs local grape varieties.
Gramona is a family owned Cava producer, making wine since 1881. In the early days they used to make still wine and export it to France who were being hit by phylloxera. They also sent wine to the states and imported rum to fill the empty barrels that came back! Gramona is now being run by the fifth generation.
Cava is made to the traditional method, the same as Champagne. They make still wine with local or international grapes then put the wine into bottles and add sugar, yeast and bentonite. The bentonite helps remove the sediment from the bottle and clean the wine. A second fermentation occurs producing CO2 (the bubbles) and alcohol, increasing from 10% to 11.5%. Once the fermentation is finished they wait 9 months and then riddle the bottles to move the sediment from the bottom to the top of the bottle. To remove the sediment they freeze the neck of the bottle so that when it is opened the frozen sediment shoots out. At Gramona they use a cork instead of a crown cap for any Cava that they want to age for more than 4 years. For older Cavas everything is done manually - the riddling and disgorgement requiring specialist skills. In the third year of ageing the yeast dies and breaks down so that autolysis occurs resulting in bread, vanilla, lactic notes. For the dosage they use sherry wine which is taken from the solera system. The solera has been in existence for 100 years and so in effect some of the dosage will contain 100 year old wine. Some producers don't add wine at the end as in the past the dosage was thought to be used to improve a poor wine and so wines without dosage were seen as more premium.
There is an on-going debate amongst Cava producers over the use of French grapes vs local grapes. Gramona use chardonnay and pinot noir but many producers prefer to use Catalan grapes.
They have also made ice wine as a response to the effects of climate change. They harvest the grapes late and then bring the grapes inside into a fridge with layer of grapes then a layer of ice and leave it for 24 hours. Freezing the water inside the grape concentrates the sugars and aromas. For more information on how this is done visit www.gramona.com
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