A new classification for single estate, premium cava has been launched in a bid to raise the quality perception of the Spanish sparkler.

The new classification, Cava del Paraje, comes with a strict set of requirements from the region’s regulatory board, the CRDO del Cava.

The wines must be made from grapes grown in vineyards that are at least 10 years old and the grapes must be hand-harvested from vineyards with a maximum output of 8,000 kg per hectare.

Fermentation must be carried out at the estate and have a maximum yield of 48hl per hectare. The initial base wine must be certified as “being of sufficient quality before” being aged in bottle for a minimum of 36 months.

Single estate cavas will only be produced as Brut wines, while traceability controls must be in place from the vine to the shelf.

Pedro Bonet, chairman of the cava regulatory board, said the new classification is designed to “place cavas at the top of the quality wine pyramid” and to “do justice to the excellence of this sparkling wine”.

Cava is the second largest Spanish DO by volume and the number one DO in terms of international export, according to Bonet. “The growth and improvement of cava is essential for global sustainability in the region, essential for its progress and the future. Even though, there is still a long way to go,” he said.

Bonet added: “We hope that this new classification will not only prove that Cava is capable of producing fine wines that can age and we hope that this new classification will motivate and inspire producers to strive to produce increasingly higher quality sparkling wines.”