The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture signed a regulation in mid-July that creates a new premium sparkling wine category. The "Cava de Paraje Calificado" is defined by very strict production requirements. Behind this is the claim to be among the world's best. The "Cava de Paraje Calificado" stands above the classification of Reserva and Gran Reserva. The grapes must come from a classified vineyard and the vines must be at least ten years old. In addition, no more than 8,000 kg of grapes may be harvested per hectare, and the maximum yield is 48 hectolitres per hectare. The new top cava is produced exclusively as vintage cava, the lees ageing is at least 36 months, the maximum residual sweetness is in the category "Brut".
At the start of the new sparkling wine class, twelve different Cavas de Paraje from nine producers were classified. Large producers like Codorníu and Freixenet are among them as well as smaller top producers, such as Recaredo and Gramona.
In this context, the DO reported a strong increase in demand for high-quality cava. Of the more than 245 million bottles sold in 2016, around 30 million bottles were already allocated to the Reserva and Gran Reserva quality levels. Exports are currently the decisive factor for Cava: 159 million bottles were sold abroad, 46 percent of them to the EU and 19 percent to third countries.
According to the figures, Germany is one of the most important sales markets for Cava, with around 28.5 million bottles.