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What grapes are used to make cava and champagne?

We know that most champagnes are made with chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes, and cavas with macabeo, xarel·lo and parellada, but what does each variety contribute? What other varieties are used?

What are the main grapes used to make cava?

White cavas are mostly made from the classic blend of xarel·lo, macabeo and parellada, in very varied proportions, typical grapes of the Penedés region.

  • Macabeu is a late-ripening grape that is highly appreciated for its fruitiness, aromas and ageing capacity.
  • The xarel-lo gives structure and body to the wine, as well as a unique and identifying characteristics of the Penedés region.
  • Parellada is a very productive late-ripening variety, which provides finesse and freshness.

Chardonnay is also frequently used. This grape of French origin adapts very well to different types of soil and conditions, is rich in sugars, and provides alcohol content, freshness, elegance and aromatic power, with mainly exotic aromas.

In rosé cavas, the French pinot noir is common, but also the native Penedès varieties trepat, garnacha and monastrell.

  • Grenache rosés are smooth wines with very fruity aromas of red fruits and notes of jam.
  • Trepat makes elegant cavas with a beautiful pink colour, balanced acidity, aromas of red fruits such as strawberry, raspberry and cherry, and spicy notes of cinnamon.
  • The pinot noir enhances the crown of bubbles and offers fragrant wines with low tannicity, very seductive.
  • Monastrell gives wines with a lot of colours and an excellent ageing potential.

In the elaboration of sweet cavas, Malvasia or Subirat parent is frequently used, which offers wines with structure and freshness, rich in tropical aromas of white flowers and roses, melon and herbaceous touches.

And in the production of champagne? 

The main varieties used to make champagne are chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.

  • The pinot noir brings body and power to the blend and red fruit aromas.
  • The meunier brings fruitiness and roundness.
  • Chardonnay is the grape of elegance, aromatic complexity and finesse, minerality, nerve and ageing capacity.

 

What is a blanc de blancs and what is a blanc de noirs?

The names blanc de blancs and blanc de noirs identify two types of sparkling wine according to the colour of the grapes used.

  • A blanc de blancs is a white sparkling wine made from white grapes only.
  • A blanc de noirs is also a white sparkling wine but made from red grapes.

These are very common designations for champagnes, which have also spread to the world of cava.

Bearing in mind that the vast majority of sparkling wines in Spain are usually made from white grape musts: macabeo, xarel·lo, parellada, chardonnay, (albariño, verdejo) ..., it is logical to think that the use of these designations responds to commercial rather than technical reasons.

We generally associate a blanc de blancs with a more exquisite and refined product and a blanc de noirs with a more vinous sparkling wine: less acidic, more complex and full-bodied.

 

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