BARCELONA, Spain, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- The large size of the Chinese market and its rapid growth is very attractive to the cava industry, the president of the Institute of Cava, Jaume Gramona, said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
Cava is a sparkling wine made in Spain and its industry has always considered exports to be an important aspect of their marketing strategy, especially now due to the ongoing economic crisis, which caused a sharp fall in domestic demand.
"Undoubtedly, the export to China is an upward trend," Gramona told Xinhua, although the countries that "traditionally" import the cava are the United States, Britain and Belgium. However, he has no doubt that the Chinese market will become important in the near future.
In 2010, the sector exported 95,349 bottles to China. The following year, its export increased enormously by 158.33 percent and a further 50.34 percent in 2012, when it sold a total of 370,300 bottles of cava to China.
The cava industry began exporting in 1980 and since then the number of worldwide exports has been growing steadily. In 2012, the industry exported 161 million bottles, compared to 81 million produced for the domestic market.
About 95 percent of the production of cava is produced in Catalonia, especially in the region of Penedes, and the Institute of Cava is headquartered in Barcelona.
Cava is also produced in other parts of Spain: in Extremadura, La Rioja, Aragon, Castile and Leon, the Basque region, Navarra and Valencia. Each zone has its peculiarities due to the weather and the type of grape that is grown.
"Obviously, these characteristics result in different wines, none of them better or worse than the others. What matters is that the wines have personality which means Spain has a wide range of Denominaciones de origen (Designations of Origin) and a lot of diversity,"Gramona said.
Cava production also gives the product personality. After the grape harvest, an oenologist analyzes the grapes, which go afterwards to the press.
Then, the pressed grapes are introduced into stainless steel tanks to separate the pulp from the rest. The first fermentation begins to produce mono varietal base cava wines, which will be used for the production of cava.
An oenologist will blend different base wines taking into account acidity, body and structure of the wines, among others. Afterwards, the "liquor de tirage", made up of yeast and sugar, should be added to the blend, then, the second fermentation begins.
The bottles will be taken down to the darkness of the caves where they will be stacked horizontally in rows for a minimum of 9 months (cava), 15 months (cava reserva) or 30 (cava gran reserva).
Once the second fermentation is finished, cava producers get rid of the dead yeasts cells and add the "Expedition liquor", which consists of base wines, sugars or each house spirits which provide a particular personality to the cava.
According to the sector, there is a very good harvest this year, "both in quality and quantity, adjectives that normally do not go together", said Gramona. This is due to a very cold, rainy and snowy winter, along with a cool spring.
"The good harvest makes cavas ( ... ) to age well, the quality is good, and regarding the amount, we will have a reserve after the short crop of last year and we will be able to face a possible bad vintage in the coming years," Gramona explained.
The sector expects to work hard next year, hoping that the economy revives.
Nowadays, they prepare the Christmas campaign, when the industry sells between 60 and 65 percent of the total consumption.
In Spain, it is traditional to toast with a glass of sparkling wine in Christmas and in other special dates. The cava industry tries to promote the product throughout the year, "not only to raise the glass and toast, but also as an aperitif and in every aspect of gastronomy," Gramona explained.