Cava, one of the world’s finest sparkling wines, is made by the bottle-fermenting ‘champagne method’, now called ‘traditional method’. Cava differs fundamentally from champagne only in the grapes used for the blend: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier of France are replaced by Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel.lo from the Catalan region – although Cava can be made from other grapes and other regions across Spain. Its heartland is San Sadurni d’Anoia, south of Barcelona, where some 250 companies produce over 50 million bottles annually. The autolytic ageing of the wine in bottle, on the lees, is for a minimum of nine months, or 15 months for Reservas and 30 months for the top wines, though in practice this can be even longer. This extended ageing brings depth and a biscuity flavour, while the whole effect of good quality Cava is less piercing acidity and more smoothness and a creamy fizz in the mouth. A new single vineyard classification announced in 2016 - Cava del Paraje - sees an even greater emphasis on quality.