Coupage: what are they and why are they so important?

A cava can be the result of a single variety, such as the Naveran Perles d’Or cava (100% Xarel·lo) or a mixture of varieties. Surely you know the traditional blend of Penedès cava: macabeu, xarel·lo and parellada. We also use it at home for our cavas, but you know what? At Naveran we always add 10-20% chardonnay! If you join us, we will explain why.

What are the coupage?

The coupages are the combinations that winemakers make with base wines (those that have already undergone the first fermentation) to balance the levels of graduation or acidity. Thus, we achieve the expected flavors and aromas in cava or wine (yes, wines with coupage are also made).

The blends are very valuable: with their savoire-faire, the oenologists and experts involved in this process shape the style of a winery. And it is true, this creative process, and at the same time analytical, is a very relevant part of the essence of Naveran. Next, we explain everything you need to know about blends and where this style of Naveran comes from that, if you have tried our wines and cavas, you will surely know what we are talking about!

Union, precision and creativity to find the perfect percentage

The Naveran Brut Vintage cava is made with 4 different varieties: 25% macabeu, 25% parellada, 35% xarel lo and 15% chardonnay. And you may wonder, why 25 and not 30? Well, determining these percentages is not an easy task, it is a long process of analysis, reflection, tests, more reflection, new tests … Until the perfect percentage is found.

And how we do it? First, each wine is taken separately and a complete analysis is carried out. The most important thing we need to know to make the coupage is the acidity, the graduation and the pH. So, we also taste them separately to get a first impression of what each wine is like and what sensations they give us.

The percentages of each variety to carry out the coupage do not usually vary from one vintage to the other. We know the vineyards of our estate very well. Think that some have been planted for more than fifty-five years! And we are lucky (and not just luck, they are years of dedication and patience) to have some very good Xarel·los and we take advantage of it in the coupage. You will see that xarel·lo always has a lot of presence and gives a unique touch to our cavas. Of course, the final impression will always be the sum of all the coupage.

The initial analysis guides us:

The analysis of the wines is done every year after the first fermentations because, although as we have said, the percentages do not vary, each vintage is different and this leads us to review the coupage. For example, one year Xarello may be more acidic or Parellada may have a higher alcohol content. It is when we have to play with the percentages: modify them to level. These variations can be good for us and this is when the coupage makes more sense, since we level the properties of the varieties by mixing them.

The vintage 2021

The common denominator of this vintage is that they have come out wines with a very nice acidity and are suitable for a long duration in cava. In other words, these wines can be used to make crianza, reserva and gran reserva cavas.

Monovarietal vs coupage

Surely if you are consumers of wine and cava you will have noticed that normally in the market we find more cavas with coupage than wines, which are usually monvarietals. This is because in wines personality is always sought: that each variety can be differentiated by aroma and flavors. As producers we like that when you taste a wine you can understand well the variety, the vineyard and the climate: in the end, they make up the terroir of a winery. On the other hand, in traditional cavas it is better for us to mix it up to play more with acidity and graduation, since they are two very important properties of sparkling wines.

However, in the market you will find wines with coupage. It is always easier to make wines with coupage because when you have monovarietals you cannot have any mistakes. If you have a tub of pinot noir and some of the properties are not suitable for the wine you want to achieve, you can no longer rectify. On the other hand, if you have a coupage you can always put more than one variety or another. However, monovarietals have much more personality. We will explain it to you below!

manuela de naveran

Naveran’s commitment to originality

For this reason, Naveran generally opts for single varietal wines. We have Manuela de Naveran (100% chardonnay), Clos dels Àngels (100% syrah), Clos Antònia (100% viognier)… They are varieties that have a lot of personality and we want our wines to reflect it. Imagine that for Clos Antònia we made a blend of Chardonnay with Viognier… Yes, it would be easier for us, but the varietal character would be blurred and, furthermore, the wine would look a lot like Manuela! And in the case of cava, we bet on cavas con coupage, but also for monovarietals! It is quite a challenge, and we will explain it to you in the next point.

The traditional blend of the Penedès, the macabeu, xarel lo and parellada triplet, and the special touch of Naveran

In the Penedès it is common to find cavas made with a blend of macabeu, xarel lo and parellada, three varieties very present in this region. At Naveran, although we also make these varieties, from the beginning we have opted for non-native varieties such as chardonnay or pinot noir. And two of our most valued cavas have come out of these: Perles Roses (100% pinot noir) and Odisea (chardonnay with a little parellada). We like these varieties very much and we believe that they provide an extra of originality and personality to the macabeu, xarel lo and parellada blend. That is why when we make cavas with the traditional blend we add a percentage of chardonnay. This gives us a finer bubble, more body, more graduation … And the result is excellent! We are very happy with this coupage!

cavas naveran

Naveran’s own style

As we have mentioned, wineries have a style, a savoire-faire, and we can recognize it, among others, by seeing how they do the coupage. But… How is Naveran’s style? Surely you have figured it out by now: Naveran’s style is to go beyond the traditional blend and make cava with pinots and chardonnays. However, we also believe that we should bet on a country cava and that is why we have the Perles d’Or (xarel·lo 100%). Xarel lo is a star variety from the Penedès that we love because it gives so much play!

The coupage is a task that depends on the winemaker, but in Naveran it is a team effort: the commercial director and Michel, the founder and the soul of Caves Naveran, also participate. Michel, in addition to training in oenology in Switzerland, has traveled half the world tasting wines and this experience is part of the character of Naveran wines and cavas.

Our most complex blend

And to finish, we would like to explain to you which is the most complicated combination for Naveran, because we believe that it exemplifies our commitment to originality and precision. It is nothing less than the Perles Blanques cava (60% pinot blanco de noirs, 40% chardonnay). Of this 40% of chardonnay, one part is fermented in barrel and the other, in stainless steel. They are complex blends to make for several reasons: first, the pinot blanco de noirs, where we must be careful because it cannot raise the color. Then, the barrel-fermented chardonnay, which has its complexity because we work with the mothers of the wine and are aged for about six months. And finally, as we do not like it to take a lot of wood, we also “blend” it with chardonnay in controlled fermentation. And voilà! This is where this blend of cava plus champagne comes from that we have in Naveran: its varieties are typical of the Champagne region.