The 2nd Valencian Cava Fair, a Great Success!

Organised by PROAVA, the  body which promotes agriculture, food and wine from Valencia this fair took part over three days in the Carmen district, attracting seventeen bodegas and thousands of visitors . As always the aim was not just to show how good Valencian cavas are, and they are very good indeed, but also to kick-start this years campaign to sell 1.5million bottles in the run up to Xmas!

Visitors to the cava fair


  This year the fair was held in the Plaça del Arbol, PROAVA´s new heaquarters and site of a preserved Valencian cellar from the 12th century. The exhibition centre is open air but even a couple of chilly evenings and one with rain could not put off the enthusiastic visitors.

DO Cava is  national, that is to say that cava can be made across Spain where the controlling body allows it to be made, within traditional methods ( identical to those in Champagne ) and with certain permitted grape varieties only. Catalan cava is made largely from Xarel-Lo and Parrellada grapes but here in Valencia these  varieties are replaced by Macabeo and  Chardonnay, the former for its acidity and the latter for structure and flavours. Of course there are other permitted varieties and amongst these is Pinot Noir, used to great effect by two bodegas to produce rosado cavas, as we shall see later.
Cava was only allowed to be made in DO Valencia and the Requena area of DO Utiel Requena relatively recently and more bodegas are producing cava each year, meaning there are newcomers to the fair. For instance this year saw cava from Daniel Belda from Fontanars and Arraez from Font de la Figuera as  well as a cava from Castellon, `Babel´. Some of the bodegas produce their cavas from grapes grown elsewhere within the DO and some in Bodegas elsewhere within the permitted area ( both permitted under the rules ) in order to meet the requirements of the Cava denomination.

Vino-Valencia at work!

A lot of professionals from the restaurant and wine trade also attend the fair which is a good opportunity to compare a number of cavas for price, value for money and flavour and style. Valencian cavas are generally not mass produced unlike their Catalan cousins and prices range from 5-6€ for Joven and Brut cavas for easy drinking, through 10€ for the Brut Natures and up to 22€ for the top quality Reserva and Gran Reservas and specialist wines.

  Vino-Valencia, who organise monthly events where three wines and tapas are available for just 10€ were represented by Director Dora Birindelli and myself, undertaking extensive research and renewing contacts.
And so to the Bodegas. Grupo Disber, the largest producers of Xmas hampers and owners of Bodegas Vegamar from Calles were exhibiting their Vega Median range as well as the Dominio de  Calles  and Reserva Especial wines, both available directly from the bodega. These cavas are made in Requena by Union Vinicola del Este, a specialist cava producer, as the Alto Turia is not within the DO Area.
At the other end of the Spectrum Bodegas Hispano Suiza were showing their Tantum Ergo Brut Nature from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the Dom Perignon blend, and the Brut Nature Rosado from pure Pinot Noir. The bodega produces these wines from their own plots of vines near Requena and in fact they have the only Pinot Noir grown in the DO. Both sell for 20€ at the bodega, but there is little Pinot Noir left. Both wines are of superb quality.

Wines from Daniel Belda

 Amongst new wines this year were the Fermentat Brut Nature and Ponsalet Brut both from Daniel Belda, the Fontanars bodega and both made at Castell del Sorells. Both wines are from Macabeo, Xarel-Lo and Parellada, the Fermentat containing Chardonnay as well.Both are welcome additions to the excellent range from this top producer.
Also new the A2 from Bodegas Arraez from Font de la Figuera, a reserva from 2009 and 80% Macabeo and
20% Chardonnay. Selling at around 7€ this cava had the appley flavours you expect from Cava and is a quality wine from a bodega to be watched.
Dominio de la Vega were showing three of their excellent range of cavas, the Brut Nature Joven, the Brut Nature reserva and the lovely  Pinot Noir Rosado. Requena was also represented by Pago de Tharsys whose Unico, a wine made from Pure Bobal is still amongst my favourites.
Interestingly if Bobal were to be allowed in Cava there are those who believe that Utiel Requena might well end the dominance of the Catalans in the market place, such is the quality of wine it is possible to produce from the variety.
Also from this area there were cavas from Coviñas, the Cooperative, Sybarus from Bodegas Torroja,  the excellent Chozas Carrascal, and Torre Oria, one of the two Bodegas who originally won the right to make Cava in Valencia. Vegalfaro also presented their cava.

Bodegas Vegalfaro

From the other end of the spectrum there were cavas from Murviedro and Gandia the two large commercial bodegas both of whom have a wide range of wines in the marketplace.
The former were showing there very likeable Luna de Murviedro range whilst the latter were showing the Hoya de Cadenas Brut Nature, reviewed recently at the Alcudia fair.
Finally amongst the cavas Beso de Rechenna, also produced by Union Vinicola del Este in Requena was available as well as the Castellon cava, from Vinya Natura,  Babel, 100% Macabeo and and 2007 which has spent 18 months on the lees and a further 6 months in bottle.  This bodega in Les Useres is also one to watch for the future.
This fair will I am sure become a firm fixture in the diary allowing cava lovers an opportunity to taste the wide and expanding range of quality Valencian cavas on the market, some of which are already moving into international markets with some success. 
There will only be Valencian cava in my house this Xmas, and it is  highly recommended!
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