Instead of falling in line, nine of the best Cava producers have announced that they are all abandoning DO Cava completely.
The three biggest Cava producers of Freixenet, Codorníu, and García Carrión have arrived to a point where, while their exact amount of production is unknown, it's estimated that they control 80-90% of DO Cava's entire output.
The weight of these giants created fractures in the foundation of Cava that were fully exposed to the wine-drinking public back in 2012 when high-quality producer Raventós i Blanc left DO Cava in what was then, the most staggering of wake-up calls. In 2013 came the creation of Clàssic Penedès within DO Penedès and others left as well, but many of what are considered to be the top producers continued to work from within Cava to affect change.
Despite the Cava de Paratge initiative from 2017, cellars such as Recaredo and Gramona could see that a completely new framework was needed for a high-quality wine within the bounds of Cava to emerge. While the final regulations of what came to be known as "Corpinnat" encompass a 30-page document, the most concise version is that they are "…sparkling wines made in the heart of the Penedès from 100% organic grapes harvested by hand and entirely vinified on the premises of the winery."
Corpinnat is unique in defining a place instead of a process as is the case with DO Cava. About 22,000ha are within the interior "pocket" of Penedès where one can produce a wine with the name Corpinnat. According to co-president Xavier Gramona, "it's perhaps 80% of the total territory of DO Penedès and 60% of the total territory of DO Cava".
The nine Corpinnat cellars are generally rather small and Mas Candí was one of the last cellars to join in December of 2018. Talking with co-owner Toni Carbó, he made an interesting point as to why they did, "It's actually thanks to the larger cellars of Cava that we have as many vineyards as we do still. But you arrive to a point where you have to defend the territory and you have to cultivate your lands in a manner that's sustainable for the environment, the viticulturists, and future generations. There are countless Cava cellars who don't even own a wine press and are simply buying in all their base wine. This isn't a correct path to quality wine."
They do face an uphill battle in terms of promotion as it seems many people aren't keen to the name, "Corpinnat" although its shortened version means, "rocky heart" and given the attention paid towards minerality in the wine world these days, this isn't a particularly bad association. But, if the name strikes you as "odd", it actually derives from old Catalan with Latin roots and is explained as such on their website:
"The word comprises two concepts: COR, the cradle where, more than 130 years ago, the very first sparkling wines in Spain were made and PINNAT which stems from the etymological root Pinnae which refers to the origin of the word Penedès, documented in the 10th Century as Penetense. This Latin adjective is derived from pinna, which means crag or rock and which applied to the Penedès is equivalent to rocky soil."
Will there be a DO Corpinnat in due course? Recaredo's Ton Mata and Corpinnat co-president put this to rest quickly by stating, "At the moment, no." Based upon how he stated it, there has been so much energy devoted to these ultimately fruitless discussions with the DO Cava, they will simply focus their energy with promoting this name for the time being.
Will Raventós i Blanc be joining Corpinnat as it seems to align exactly with what Raventós was after? They do seem more open to Corpinnat than they once were and said that they will look over the requirements in more detail now that this split has come to pass with DO Cava.
If nothing else, other wine regions should learn from the missteps of Cava especially a region such as Champagne where Moët et Chandon produces some 12% of all the bottles. Looking backwards to a 20th century that's long-since slipped away instead of embracing a 21st century that is yet unfolding was a mistake that could have been corrected, but with the departure of its marquée cellars, it's hard to see how DO Cava will ever be viewed by wine drinkers as anything more than "Spain's Prosecco".
Comment of /Comentario de Wines Inform Assessors:
The emergence and future development of Corpinnat is good news insofar as it speaks of quality, authenticity, native varieties -xarel·lo, macabeu, parellada, ...-, assess the territory of grape production, fair prices for grape producers and consum reasonable prices of sparkling wine / cava (30 years ago we called him "xampany" -the Catalan word for champagne- and not cava)
Wines Inform Assessors
La aparición y futuro desarrollo de Corpinnat es una buena noticia en la medida que habla de calidad, autenticidad, variedades autóctonas -xarel·lo, macabeu, parellada,...- , valorar el territorio de producción de la uva, precios justos para agricultores y productores de vino espumoso/cava (hace 30 años le llamábamos "xampany" -la palabra catalana para champagne- y no cava)
Wines Inform Assessors
Origin information: Harpers
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