The Traditional Method
As in Champagne, Cava is made using the Traditional Method or Método Tradicional meaning that the bubbles are created through a second fermentation in the bottle in which the wine is sold. The process follows these steps:
The still base wine: The grape juiceis fermented, a process by which yeast coverts the sugars in the grapes to alcohol, to create a base wine, often from a blend of different grapes selected for their flavour and ageing potential.
Creating the bubbles: Sugar and yeast are added to the wine before sealing it in a Champagne bottle under a crown cap. Carbon dioxide is created as a by-product of the second fermentation process, but this time it is trapped inside the bottle, making the wine effervescent.
Creating extra flavour: After the second fermentation takes place the dead yeast that is trapped inside the bottle breaks down in a process called autolysis that creates additional “biscuity” flavours. This is why a Cava like De Pró that has been aged for 15 months is more flavour ful than one that has been aged for the minimum 9 months.
Moving the yeast: The bottles are gradually moved from a horizontal to vertical position, in order to facilitate the autolysis process and move the dead yeast cells (which would make the wine cloudy) down to the neck of the bottle for their removal. This can be done by hand or using machines called girasoles.
Removing the yeast: The sediment is now collected in the neck of the upside down bottle. The necks of the bottles are frozen so the yeast can be removed in a plug of ice.
Topping up and corking: The bottle is topped up with reserved wine which, in the case of Brut Cavas like De Pró, is very slightly sweetened to balance the natural acidity of the wine. The bottle is sealed with a cork to be sold and enjoyed.