Image: Belgians are the biggest Cava drinkers in the world.
Perhaps you have noticed the price increases of Beaujolais primeur earlier this year. Wine prices are generally on the rise and wine lovers should expect to pay more for Cava too.
Whilst the economic collapse of Spain forced grape growers last year to sell off their 2011 crop at extremely low prices to the advantage of large Cava producers, the situation has taken an unexpected turn albeit not for the better.
Due to bad weather conditions this summer, ‘only’ 260 million kilograms of grapes were harvest in 2012, 17% less than the previous year. The smaller harvest follows a not so great 2011 season that saw a crop of 300 million kilograms of grapes, 18 million less than in 2010. Low yields combined by dwindling Cava reserves now push up prices of the affordable Catalan alternative to Champagne.
De Belgische consument zal 30 tot 50 procent meer voor zijn cava mogen betalen- Wim van Leuven – La Buena Vida
Besides increased prices on retail shelves, Cava’s image is also suffering in the eyes of the consumer. The boundaries of the Cava appellation are not precisely drawn, hence cheap and inferior Cava floods Europe’s supermarkets to leave the reputation of the more quality conscious producers tarnished.
In fact, an increasing number of bodegas have gone as far as to drop the name ‘Cava’ on the label, including famous producers such as Raventos i Blanc, Albet i Noya, Mas Comtal en Loxarel.
The Belgian market seems indicative of the Cava issue. Consumption has risen steadily in the last few years, reaching a peak of over 23 million bottles per year over a population of 11 million. This year’s prices are set to increase by 30 to 50% and expected to buck the upward buying trend.