D.O. Cava

After many years of image decline and ridicule, Cava has been receiving something of a makeover of late, and currently in the process of re-establishing itself as a leading producer of quality sparkling wine.

Cava, as a wine style, was officially recognised in 1972, however, in 2020 the Cava Regulatory Council unanimously approved a new zoning and quality designation for the DO to protect authenticity and to improve traceability.

Whilst Cava may have had its origins in the Penèdes (now referred to as the Comtats de Barcelona, with the town of San Sadurnì d’Anoia recognised as its capital), there are, for historical reasons, three other areas in Spain where Cava can be produced:

  • Valle del Ebro (effectively the area around Rioja)
  • Zona de Levante (east of Valencia)
  • Viñedos de Almendralejo (an obscure appellation in the south-west, close to the Portuguese border, with just two existing producers)

The Comtats de Barcelona (which represents around 95% of Cava production) has also been subdivided into its own five regions, making it easier to determine provenance:

  • Valls d’Anoia-Foix
  • Serra de Mar
  • Conca del Gaià
  • Serra de Prades
  • Pla de Pontent

Permitted grape varieties:

These are split into two categories:

  • ‘Traditional varieties – which represent 82% of production:
  • Macabeo (14,000 hectares)
  • lo (10,000)
  • Parellada (7,000)
  • Other varieties – which represent the remaining 18% of production:
  • Chardonnay (2,700)
  • Garnacha Tinta (1,800)
  • Trepat (1,200)
  • Pinot Noir (800)
  • Subirat Parent (250)
  • Monastrell (80)

The new zoning regulations were followed, in 2022, with the introduction of updated Quality Seals which help to identify the different categories of Cava.

These official categories are now designated as Cava de Guarda and Cava de Guarda Superior. The new classification system clearly traces the origin and allows the consumer to understand the different styles and qualities on offer, according to their age and the time on their lees.

Cava de Guarda – The youngest style of Cava, aged in bottle for a minimum 9 months on the lees before release. Stating a vintage on the label is not obligatory.

Cava de Guarda Superior:
– a minimum of 18 months on the lees and with the vintage obligatorily declared on the label. In addition, the vines should be at least 10 years old and (from the 2025 vintage) be organically certified. Yields are limited to 10,000 kilos per hectare.

Gran Reserva
– As above, but with a minimum of 30 months on the lees before bottling.

Cava de Paraje Calificado – The name paraje calificado indicates which Cavas are from a single approved location. In addition, the wines must spend a minimum of 36 months on the lees. The vines need to be estate grown and vinified and bottled on-site. Harvesting should be by hand and with a stricter maximum yield of 8,000 kilos per hectare. Production style is limited to Extra Brut, Brut and Brut Nature. Currently, it is understood that out of 345 registered producers of Cava there are only six wineries which conform to this standard.


The residual sugar content (or dosage) officially determines the final profile of the different Cavas:

  • 0-3g/l: Brut Nature
  • 0-6g/l: Extra Brut
  • 0-12g/l: Brut
  • 12-17g/l: Extra Seco
  • 17-32g/l: Seco
  • 32/50g/l: Semi Seco
  • +50g/l: Dulce 



The property itself is located in Sant Marti Sa Roca, within sight of the town of Vilafranca des Penedès.

Originally created as the Heretat Mas (meaning farm) Tinaja (amphora) in 1989, the name was abbreviated to Mastinell after the business was sold to the local Valderrama family in 1995.

The cellar, which is constructed in the traditional Catalan masia style architecture sits within its own eight-hectare ‘garden’ of vines. This makes it a relatively small producer and so with around 50% self-sufficiency, the estate is less reliant on buying contracted fruit from individual growers. Regardless, the grapes that are sourced are certified organic and often pays more than double the average price per kilo to secure the best possible fruit. The cellar’s own vines have been certified organic since 2016.

Producing both Cava and table wines, the cellar cultivates the native Penedès varieties of Macabeo, Xarel.lo, Parellada and Trepat for its Cavas. These are augmented with Garnacha, Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Muscatel de Sitges and Sumoll for the table wines, with everything being hand harvested.

Whilst table wines represent around 30% of total production, the cellar focuses more on extended-aged Cava, producing around 200,000 bottles per year.

Winemaker, Sandra Estebez hails from Galicia. She started here with the 2019 vintage, having previously worked in Priorat.

The cellar received notoriety in 1997 when it won a blind-tasting competition to supply the wedding Cava for the marriage of Christina of Spain. Their premium cuvée is named after this achievement.

Owner, Manuel Mastinell, whose fortune is founded on property development, has also constructed a luxury five-star hotel on site. Opened in 2013, the thirteen rooms resemble Cava bottles resting sur latte and in a style that is clearly influenced by the architecture of Frank Geary and Antoni Gaudì. The hotel also has a renowned restaurant, El Rima, which showcases the fine Catalunyan cuisine.

Brut Reserva Rose pack shot 2020 fiche
Brut Real Gran Reserva Brut pack shot 2015 fiche
Nature, Gran Reserva Brut pack shot 2014 fiche
Carpe, Gran Reserva Brut Nature pack shot 2018 fiche
Christina, Gran Reserva Extra Brut pack shot 2016 fiche