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April 21, 2021

Cava, Beyond Value w/ Javier Pagés, D.O. Cava

Cava, Beyond Value w/ Javier Pagés, D.O. Cava

Too often known as just a value sparkling wine, Cava makes some of the world’s finest traditional-method sparkling wines. Ones that Javier Pagés, President of D.O. Cava, would like to see drunk on more occasions, especially with food. Javier gives us an o


Too often known as just a value sparkling wine, Cava makes some of the world’s finest traditional-method sparkling wines. Ones that Javier Pagés, President of D.O. Cava, would like to see drunk on more occasions, especially with food. Javier gives us an overview of the Cava region, how it builds brand ambassadors across the globe, and how “Cava elevates every meal” on this episode of XChateau. 

Detailed show notes: 

  • Javier’s background
    • Started as a wine salesperson, including in the US (both East Coast and San Francisco) with importers, distributors (e.g., Southern Glazers)
    • Was a sales director and then CEO of a Cava company (Codorniu)
  • Cava
    • D.O. specialized in 1 thing - sparkling wine in the traditional method
    • Cava is named for the underground cellars where the wine is aged
    • Varietals used - Xarel-lo, Macabeo, Parellada, Chardonnay, & Pinot Noir; Trepat and Grenache for red varieties for rose
    • 4 main regions for Cava
      • Catalunya - the main region, has 4 sub-regions
      • Valencia / Levante - Eastern Spain
      • Extremadura - Southwest Spain
      • Ebro River Valley
    • 2 Cava quality levels
      • Cava de Guarda - aged for at least 9 months on lees
      • Cava de Guarda Superior - aged for more than 18 months on lees
        • Allowed to use sub-appellation names
        • Includes Reserva, Gran Reserva, and Paraje Calificado levels
  • Cava is the most exported wine in Spain
    • 70% in 2020, up from 60% previously
    • Increase due to pandemic (on-premise and tourism down dramatically in Spain in 2020)
    • Top markets:
      • Europe - top 3 = Belgium, UK, Germany; other important markets = Netherlands, Nordics, France, Russia, Switzerland
        • Germany - very price sensitive
        • UK - very competitive due to grocery stores, independent retailers allow for some more expensive Cavas
      • North America - US (4th major market, ~20M bottles imported), Canada (11th biggest market)
      • Asia - Japan a major market, China hasn’t fallen in love with sparkling wines yet; S Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong
      • Latin America - Brazil is a major market
      • Australia - #22 market and growing
  • A major challenge for Cava - making it better known and agreed that Cava is a quality sparkling wine vs. only a value wine
    • Trying to increase consumer occasions for consuming Cava - current push is for more food pairing - “Cava elevates every meal” website mentions pairing with Mexican food
  • D.O. Cava’s mission - to add value to all members
    • Adapt the region to today’s consumers
    • Different products for different consumers and different moments
    • Certify and track that what’s on the label is true, provide traceability
  • Conducts consumer studies - measure the health of the Cava brand, understand consumer desires
  • D.O. Cava’s members
    • Made up of production side (vineyard people, growers) and wineries
    • 12 person board - 6 from vineyards, 6 from wineries
    • Members pay a fee to D.O. based on hectares of vineyards or bottles sold
    • Membership is optional
  • Marketing Cava to different audiences
    • Journalists - important to bring them to where the action is, want to know everything - the process, story, etc.…
    • Trade - more about educating them so they can sell the wine - webinars, wine academy course
    • Consumers - more impulsive, emotional connections, giving them experiences and sharing the wine through events and visiting the wineries
  • Most successful marketing campaign - Wine Cava Academy
    • Creates wine ambassadors for Cava
    • Contains different modules - production, regions, tasting profiles, wine pairings, etc.…
    • Use well-known professionals (e.g., MWs, journalists) to teach courses
    • Get a certificate at the end of the course
  • US marketing campaign - 360 Degrees of Cava
    • A multi-pronged marketing campaign where the elements support each other
    • Educational elements for consumers - masterclasses, tastings
    • Press
    • Social media
    • Tactical advertising
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