Originally cava is a natural sparkling wine produced in the region Champagne (France) from the 18th century onwards. However, the name Champagne is legally protected since the Madrid Agreement for the International Registration of Marks was concluded in 1891, which reserved it for the sparkling wine made in the French region.
So sparkling wines made with the same method, champenoise, had to use another name. In Catalonia this became cava and as a ‘new’ product it aroused interest in the first half of the 20th century.
The loss of red grape vines due to the phylloxera epidemic moved Dolors Sala to use white Catalan indigenous grapes for her cava’s instead. Generally a blend of three varieties is used: macabeu, parellada and xarel·lo, the Penedès classics. The percentage of each grape changes every year according to its quality and the taste.
The macabeu grape is compact and big, its taste is very sweet. It gives to the wine a perfume that is slightly fruity and aromatic reminding you of apples and oranges. The parellada is just as big and compact, but gives a fresh wine with a more floral sensation. When you look at xarel·lo, you see a smaller and less compact grape with a thicker skin than the other two. These characteristics provide body to the cava.
Today this trio still forms a solid base for the production of sparkling wines.