Catalans do things a little differently; witness the region’s history of seeking independence from Spain, not to mention FC Barcelona’s role in the failed attempt to create a European soccer Super League. That iconoclasm extends to the Catalonian wine business, specifically in the Penedès region, just southwest of Barcelona, where in recent years a few wineries have banded together to officially break ties with some of their cava-producing neighbors and form their own category: Corpinnat.
“Corpinnat was founded with the objective of enhancing the prestige of the sparkling wines that have been made in the Penedès region for more than 100 years,” says Toni de la Rosa Torelló, co-owner of Torelló Viticultors, one of the six original breakaway members. “We have some of the strictest regulations for sparkling wines in the world: 100 percent organic Penedès grapes harvested by hand, 100 percent winemaking on the property, and minimum aging requirements.”
The founding wineries—which also include Llopart, Recaredo, Gramona, Nadal, and Sabaté i Coca—established their own designation in part to set themselves apart from the high-volume, low-cost brands that have damaged cava’s reputation. Nika Shevela, a Barcelona-based level-three Wine & Spirit Education Trust–certified sommelier and cava educator, argues that most palates will be able to detect the difference born of Corpinnat’s Champagne-esque standards.
“Extended aging for a minimum of 18 months, versus the usual required nine months for entry-level cava, confers extra complexity to the flavor,” Shevela says. “The use of indigenous varieties and a strong territorial link helps Corpinnat wines fully express a specific terroir, turning every bottle into a completely unique experience.”
Corpinnat obtained formal recognition from the Catalan government and the European Union in 2017, and the group has since expanded, adding Mas Candí, Huguet-Can Feixes, Júlia Bernet, Can Descregut, and Pardas, to bring its membership to 11. The category may remain small and local, but its members have global aspirations. “While the Spanish market already knows and recognizes Corpinnat,” de la Rosa Torelló says, “we believe that, little by little, the international markets will also come to know our sparkling wine.”
Three Corpinnats to Try
Torelló Brut Reserva
Aromatically clean and pleasant on the nose, with refreshing acidity and a slightly bitter finish.
Sabaté I Coca Castellroig Brut Reserva
Medium-bodied with a light citrus aroma, this wine feels fresh on the palate, with a long finish.
Recaredo Intens Rosat Brut Nature
Dry, lively sparkling rosé with aromas of red fruit and touches of spice.