Since the 1980’s Cava has been produced by a number of Bodegas in Requena who currently have just over 3000 Hectares of vineyards dedicated to the production of around 10 million bottles a year.
Originally Cava was only produced in Cataluña and when Bodegas in Requena, Andalucia and elsewhere expressed an interest in producing Traditional Method sparkling wines the matter ended up in the courts until the Superior Tribunal of Justice ruled that Cava was a ‘production method’ and not a ‘geographical area’.
Since that ruling Cava has been produced at a number of bodegas and today the Association of Cava Producers of Requena controls the local production and marketing under the Valencian Ministry of Agriculture and DO Cava.
It would be fair to say the Catalan producers have never made it easy for the Requena producers. Recently DO Cava has firmed up its hegemony over all the other areas.
Firstly no producers from other areas were elected to the Regulatory body and policy control lies entirely in the hands of the Catalan companies.
Secondly in response to over-production and a drop in quality the DO persuaded Pedro Sanchez’s Government and the Agriculture Ministry to limit new plantings of vineyards dedicated to Cava production, a matter very important to Requena´s producers who have identified another 1000 Hectares with an aim to double production to 20 million bottles a year. Needless to say this was considered extremely unfair and ended up in the courts where the decision was overturned.
Now, in an attempt to sort out some of the mess that has been created the DO decided to commission a body to create sub-zones and a new structure. The need for this was exacerbated by the decision of several top houses in Cataluña to walk out of the DO and create their own Trademark, Corpinnat.
This comes at a time where the need to re-designate the style of Cava has also become important.
The report which was accepted by the board of the DO created newly designated areas for the production of Cava. In Cataluña (Comtats de Barcelona) there are four subzones, Andalucia becomes Viñedos de Almendralejos and Requena is re-designated ‘Altos de Levante’.
Herein lies the problem. The Levante is considered to run from Girona in Cataluña to Andalusia, a far cry from the small town of Requena which has carefully used terms such as ‘Feria de Cava Valenciano’, ‘Corazon de Requena’ and ‘Requena es Cava’ to delineate it’s quality product.
The title ‘Altos de Levante’ has gone down like a lead balloon from the heights of the Valencian Agriculture Ministry to individuals whether producers or consumers.
But, and it is a big but, in searching for a new name to replace it there are more problems facing the Association of Cava Producers of Requena. (ACPR).
Neither the name of Requena nor Valencia can appear in the new title, the former because there is already a DO Utiel-Requena and the second because there is a DO Valencia which also doesn´t have any rights to produce cava. So suggestions such as ‘Llanos de Requena’ or ‘Reino de Valencia’ both of which we have heard as alternatives can neither be used.
The seven member bodegas (Torre Oria, Pago de Tharsys, Chozas Carrascal, Dominio de la Vega, Hispano-Suizas, UVÉ and Coviñas) are therefore searching for an alternative and would welcome sensible suggestions, taking into account the sensitivities outlined above.
Even if they do come up up with a solution and propose it to the Ministry of Agriculture and DO Cava they have no representation rights on that body and will have to rely on goodwill to get the name changed.
As Emilio Exposito, President of the ACPR put it, ” In our view, it is necessary to establish ‘in an unambiguous manner’ the origin of the product, and that identifies the winemakers and professionals involved in the elaboration of Requena’s cava and that serves to strengthen it in international markets with a name that locates our cavas on the map clearly and concisely”.
We could not agree more and wish the ACPR success in changing the nonsensical designation that DO Cava has foisted on them! At the time of writing this the name ‘ Cava del Interior Valenciano’ has emerged as a front runner, agreed by the Association, to be put forward as the alternative.