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Cava DO facing quality crisis

There is growing crisis within the Spanish Cava DO, 9 producers have left the DO since November last year and now a leading Penedes winemaker has unveiled a framework for a new sparkling wine appellation.

Winemaker Raventos I Blanc had quit the DO because of 'poor image and low standards' believing that Cava has become a volume orientated DO with no geographical distinction in terms of climate and soils with low viticultural standards. What they have unvieled is a new designation, named Conca Del Riu Anoia a very small geographical area surrounding the Anoia River valley between the Anoia and Foix Rivers in eastern Penedes.

Included in their new proposal is a tightening of the current rules of production. The changes include: paying growers a minimum of 1€/Kg - the current price averages €0.20/Kg; the vineyards must be organically certified and at least ten years old and the yields will be set at a maximum of 10,000kg/hectare. They also propose increasing the minimum period on the lees from 9 to 18 months and only using indigenous grape varieties. 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.

In their defense the Cava DO has recommended some significant changes to their appellation rules, including increasing the minimum time the wine is in contact with the lees from 9 to 15 months.