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Clàssic Penedès: A new name in sparkling wine

Producers of sparkling wine from Catalonia's Penedès region have chosen the brand name 'Clàssic Penedès' to identify their product. This variety is not Cava but rather a sparkling wine produced under stricter regulations to ensure the product is of a higher quality. Wine under the Clàssic Penedès name can only use grapes which are 100% organic and which come from the Penedès wine appellation. Josep Maria Albert, the President of the Penedès appellation, announced that this year the grapes in this region are maturing particularly early and, as of this week, some vineyards are already manufacturing the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varieties of wine. The winemaker stated that this season, due to weather conditions, "there will be between a 10% to 15% drop in the quantity of wine from last year, but, despite this decrease in production, the wine will be better quality".

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21 August 2014 09:08 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- Producers of sparkling wine from Catalonia's Penedès region have chosen the brand name 'Clàssic Penedès' to identify their product. This variety is not Cava, the typical sparkling wine produced in Catalonia through the méthode champagnoise, but rather it is a sparkling wine produced under stricter regulations to ensure the product is of a higher quality than its bubbly counterpart. For example, sparkling wine under the Clàssic Penedès name can only use grapes which are 100% organic and which come from the Penedès wine appellation, south of Barcelona. The Director of the Regulatory Council of the Penedès appellation, Francesc Olivella, says the name was chosen to distinguish the area in which the product is produced, in the same way that "the French do with Champagne, which is also a region". Besides, Josep Maria Albert, the President of the Penedès appellation, has announced that this year the grapes are maturing particularly early and, as of this week, some vineyards are already manufacturing the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varieties of wine. The winemaker stated that this season, due to weather conditions, "there will be between a 10% to 15% drop in the quantity of wine from last year, but, despite this decrease in production, the wine will be better quality".


Sparkling wine in the Penedès region will now have to be called Clàssic Penedès. However, the 14 producers of this product which are part of this wine appellation, as well as those which do not form part of the Cava appellation but make a similar product, will all have to recognise that, in popular culture, their wine will still be known as Cava. In the same way, some still call Cava Champagne, even though it is not produced in that French region. Therefore it will take time for the Clàssic Penedès brand, launched this 2014, to be commonly used by the customers.

The Clàssic Penedès will have to meet strict requirements. Firstly, all of the grapes must come from vineyards in the Penedès wine appellation, which has been a determined area for more than 50 years, and lies in the south of the Barcelona Province, on the coast of Catalonia. In addition, the 'Clàssic' brand must use 100% organic ingredients and cannot contain any chemical additives. Furthermore, the wines "must mature for 15 months during the process and this must be stated on all the labels", according to the specification of the Director of the Regulatory Council of the Penedès appellation, Francesc Olivella. All this means Clàssic Penedès will be of the quality of a reserved wine and "have the characteristics of the best sparkling wines in the world", claimed Olivella.

Sergi Colet, co-owner of the Colet winery, told the ACN that 8 years ago he left the appellation of Cava to join the Penedès brand. He remarks that, in the beginning they were "orphans of the brand" and they wanted to make clear "who we are and what we do". Now that Colet's wine is being produced under the name of Clàssic, he believes it "is a guarantee of quality to all those who taste our wines."

The winemaker says that he likes that Penedès appellation have "strict regulations which everyone has to adhere to". Therefore, the wine manufacturers do not obsess about the amount they produce, but rather the quality. They estimate that this year they will produce just half a million bottles of Clàssic Penedès, but Colet insists that "this amount is a good result".

Identifying a wine region                                    

In recent times the producers of sparkling wine have complained about what they consider to be a loss in value of the Cava brand, as many Cava manufacturers are trying to lower the prices, which tends to negatively affect the quality. The loss in the worth of the Cava name has also been put down to the fact that the appellation of Cava is not limited to any geographic area of Spain.

For this reason, the Clàssic Penedès will become a "product to define the Penedès region", said Francesc Olivella. The president of the Regulatory Council of this wine region, Josep Maria Albert, agreed, stating that the 'Clàssic' brand will prioritise the quality of the wine in order to "play in the premier league of sparkling wines, where only French Champagne plays at the moment".

This season, the vineyards of Albert's company, Albet i Noya, is harvesting a variety of grape called Belat. It is a very experimental and exclusive grape within the winery. "It is an old variety that has been recovered from the Pinot Noir family" explained the winemaker. This type of grape ripens later and gives the wine a higher acidity level, which will be produced in around 400 bottles.

The vineyard is the first of 14 manufacturers of the DO Penedès appellation which will produce sparkling wine under the Clàssic Penedès names. Albert stated that he believes the new brand should embody "that sector of the market which values quality and highlights the fact that the wine is organic and has aged for 15 months" which means the Penedès appellation has no desire to grow in the number of manufacturers.

Grapes ripening at a quicker pace than normal

The Director of DO Penedès has also announced that the variants of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have already been harvested this week, which is much earlier than normal. He stated that, in recent times, the harvest time – the period when the grapes are gathered – is a little earlier each year. He said "the slow influence of climate change is bringing the harvest forward" to an average of half a day per year.

However, Albert was also keen to stress that this season, the harvest time has been particularly early due to ideal weather in the Penedès area, which has been "not too rainy, nor too hot", causing the grapes to mature much faster. 

The early maturation of the grapes, coupled with good control against disease, means the Regulatory Council of the DO Penedès predicts that the region's harvest this year will produce less wine which is of a higher quality. "We estimate that there will be between a 10% and 15% drop in the quantity of wine from last year, but, despite the decrease in production, the wine will be better quality", stressed Albert.

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  • A Belat vineyard in the Penedès wine region (by S. Sabaté)

  • A vineyard whose grapes will be used to make Clàssic Penedès in the Colet cellar (by S. Sabaté)

  • A Belat vineyard in the Penedès wine region (by S. Sabaté)
  • A vineyard whose grapes will be used to make Clàssic Penedès in the Colet cellar (by S. Sabaté)