He belongs to the seventeenth generation of the Codorníu family, where he assumed the management of the wine group for more than a decade, chaired by his father Manuel Pagès Raventós between 1986 and 1990. Javier Pagés (Barcelona, 1957) has presided over DO Cava for two years , an organization in which it has made notable changes.
A story that began in Catalonia, in a place of winemaking tradition, a land of peasants, but also of people with concerns and a desire to know and investigate; and with 3 white grapes as protagonists: macabeu, xarel·lo and parellada.
A trilogy that began to define and differentiate that sparkling wine that over the years would be baptized as cava. And as in every crisis an opportunity always arises: here, the phylloxera had devastated the Penedés vineyards, which led to studies and research in search of a solution.
Some of the owners most deeply rooted in the area opted to replace the red varieties with quality local white grapes, which favored the development of this sparkling wine. The DO Cava has more than 38,000 hectares of vineyards, worked by more than 6,800 winegrowers, with 370 wineries present in more than a hundred countries. 60% of the production is sold on the international market.
Is the pandemic affecting cava sales? It is affecting the entire chain, there is less consumption, closed channels, especially channels that are natural to the world of wine, such as the hospitality industry.
In Spain, the main channel is the hotel and restaurant industry, and it has been closed for a long time. It has gone through different phases, it was taking shape and then it has returned to retrogression.
The food channel is doing well, and the international market is also affected. It is also true that we have not had a good vintage. It is a very difficult year, with 25% less harvest than the previous one, especially in the Catalan area. It is a sector touched by all this.
And Christmas? It is difficult to predict anything, but hopefully everything goes well. 30% of cava sales are produced at this time. The first objective we have is to survive and I think that for next year we will have better expectations. It is also up to the wineries to maintain that optimistic touch.
What are the objectives that are set? The main one is to support wineries affected by the pandemic. And on the issue of vintage performance we know that this is more circumstantial. Cava has the opportunity to offer the best to the consumer, and all of this has to do with its origins, with municipalities that are climatologically different.
All of this creates wealth, since it is a product with different personalities, depending on where it is produced. Cava is not the same everywhere. Now with the new regulations that we have approved, wineries can indicate from which area the grapes from which the cava has been made come. We can see cavas with different taste options.
Until now this distinction was not made, all the cavas were put into the same bag. Now this will be put on the label, whoever wants to put it, and there will be traceability. The new regulations complete the very high level of qualitative demand, in order to clarify the purchase decision and facilitate the identification of the quality of the products.
There are four areas identified, which run through Catalonia, the Basque Country, the Valencian Community, Extremadura, Aragon, Navarra and La Rioja, and what is done with this is that there are more options for the consumer. The qualified area is also distinguished, defined by the identification of the parcels that compose it.
They also emphasize the aging of the wine. Yes. Those who have spent more than nine months of aging will be called guardianship, and those with more than 18 months of superior guardianship. In turn, the regulations distinguish between the reserve, which spend 15 to 18 months of aging, the great reserve have 30 months and the paraje, 36 months.
In addition, they have to come from vines that are at least ten years old, with a yield of 10,000 kilos per hectare. Ecology is also important, as consumers go towards all of this.
All these measures may be a consequence of the schism experienced in the cava when nine important wineries, such as Gramona, Recaredo or Torelló, left the DO to create the Corpinnat distinctive, do you expect them to return now?
For me it would be ideal to join forces with wineries that are demanding. Some are called one way and others another, but the point is to join forces, especially at the international level. When they left, we were already in the process of change to reach more consumers.
The strategic plan was in motion, and in the meantime they left. I hope that one day we will get back together and lead all of this. Cava has also suffered a political boycott.
There have been moments in which it was taken to its maximum expression, but the political issue must be forgotten to push the cava to the maximum. The minds of consumers were influenced, it was boycotted, but it is a Spanish product, which is made in different municipalities in Spain, not only in Catalonia. Politics is the art of creating opinions and many times it takes things ahead.
How do you compete with champagne? Cava is a sparkling wine of the highest quality, it is different from champagne because it comes from our land, it has a second fermentation and it is a huge fallacy that everything from outside is better when it doesn’t have to be.
The price-quality ratio of cava is much better, it is very versatile, and goes with the foodie movement . Cava is considered better and better, there are many experts who say that there are very good cavas, but we still have a lot to explain to the consumer so that they value it as it deserves.
In the world of wine, made up mostly of families, there are too many disagreements. The world of wine has a tendency to be familiar, and it also depends on the generation you are in, that influences stability.
The family gives him a long-term vision, although then there is management, in which you have to try to be as competitive as possible. If the family gets along, the company will perform well.