Wine styles

Cava chameleon

We grabbed five minutes with our Director of Buying and Buyer for Spain, Pierre Mansour, to find out why Cava is the essential sparkling wine this autumn.


Why should Society members be drinking more Cava? 

In general, Cava is really underrated by UK wine drinkers. That’s a great shame, but it’s also a great opportunity – because it’s not had quite the same success in recent years as prosecco, for example, the value you can still get for the price in Cava is just outstanding. It still feels like a bit of a secret – and I think members should be snapping it up while the prices are still so reasonable. 

My line is that if you drink champagne or other traditionally made sparkling wines (i.e. wines that have their secondary fermentation in bottle) then Cava is by far the best inexpensive version of that you’ll find. There’s no other sparkling wine around the world, that comes in at the same value that Cava does.  

What makes it such good value? 

Take The Society’s Cava for example - it spends around three to four years ageing on its lees, it’s made from mostly organic grapes, and it’s still under £10! The grapes are grown in vineyards owned by the Sumarroca family, they use indigenous grapes but include chardonnay to add finesse and elegance. If you’re looking for a wonderful dry style of traditionally fermented sparkling wine, Cava’s just unbeatable. 

What might persuade members to try something different from their usual sparkling wine? 

It’s also a nice talking point with plenty of interest and nuance. Prosecco has its place but does a completely different job – it's lighter, can be slightly sweet, and gently sparkling. 

With Cava, there is lots more potential for stylistic variety; the mixture of different grapes, the fact that you can play around with the secondary fermentation in bottle, the ageing plays a huge role, even down to things like post-disgorgement ageing too.

Penedes wine region with Montserrat mountains in the background. Catalonia, Spain.
Penedes wine region with Montserrat mountains in the background. Catalonia, Spain.

What does this mean for the flavours? 

Cava is fresh and fragrant, dry and crisp like champagne with a lemony acidity and often notes of apple. As it’s traditionally bottle-fermented, it tends to have lovely light toasty character from lees ageing. Have a look at the label - a reserva will have gentle ageing influence, and a gran reserva will have more of those flavours. There's also something I’d describe as a slight earthy or spicy element which adds to the overall complexity and nuance of the wine. 

How much do you need to spend to get a good bottle? 

Where cava excels is that £9-15 area where we have our core range of cavas; the Society's Cava, the Conde de Haro from Rioja made from viura and macabeo, then also the Sumarroca Gran Reserva – a vintage bottling with three years ageing for just £14. This is where you’ll find brilliant value. 

What about the finer end of Cava? 

There’s a new legal definition for fine wine Cava – corpinat. About 11 producers so far are certified and it’s a bit like grower Champagne; the vineyards have to be a certain age, the grapes need to be handpicked, the quality is very high. The price of these wines in the UK will be around £25 or over – it's a great sign of the overall standards of Cava. 

Finally, what’s a good food match? 

I love jamon iberico with a glass of Cava. It’s such a classic match with the fizz cutting through the salty, melty fat of the meat – delicious! 

Pierre Mansour

Director of wine and buyer for Spain

Pierre Mansour

Pierre Mansour joined the buying team in 2003 and was promoted to the position of Head of Buying in 2017 and then Director of Wine in 2019. He is responsible for Spain and Lebanon.

Back to top