The Bodega Cordoníu Cellar Jaume. / SUR

Behind the scenes

ANDREW J. LINN

Despite the success of Prosecco on an international scale, Spain has never succeeded in promoting Cava effectively.

Is this yet another case of the Italians beating the Spanish because of their superior marketing techniques, or is cava just not so interesting? Raventós was the first cava in 1972, produced after the Catalan winemakers had travelled to Champagne to learn how it was made, although cava was not given protected status until 1986.

In many specialist quarters champagne is associated with sherry. Both consist of the greatest wine products the world has ever known, and in both the soil on which the vines grow is an overriding factor in the final quality.

In Jerez, each vineyard has been separately identified since the beginning of production many centuries ago.

So, what would happen if the two regions merged some practices to make a different class of wine?

Bodegas Vinificate is experimenting with a sparkling red wine from the Tintilla grape ('Rota tent' as it was known in England), although their sparkling rosado sounds somewhat more attractive.

Primitivo Collantes, in Chiclana de la Frontera, is also trying out Georgian winemaking styles, allowing the must to ferment without removing the stalks and grape skins.

Although an excursion to Lebrija is always worth the detour, if only to eat the wild duck paella (arroz de pato), local winemakers are investigating new varieties, that is to say from palomino grape styles, while the final product does not go through a solera system as sherry does.

[Solera is a process for ageing liquids such as wine, beer, vinegar and brandy, by fractional blending of liquids of different ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over many years]