Shortly after the Catalan parliament voted overwhelmingly in late September to declare Catalonia a “nation” within Spain, furious Spaniards from other parts of the country declared a cava boycott. It was an especially dire move just ahead of the holiday season that accounts for an enormous portion of cava wine sales.
I bring this up because I have noticed a lot of people coming to my site recently from google searches on this topic. So lets look around the web and see what it really happening. Is this “boycott” having an effect on Spanish cava sales? According to an article at Spainmedia.com
In truth, Carod’s (leader of the Catalan separatist party ERC which shares government with the Socialists in the Catalan regional government) Cava fiasco has caused very little damage to the industry (cancelled orders so far in Madrid and on the southern coasts have amounted to fewer than 180,000 bottles, less than 0.2% of annual domestic market sales)
None the less some people are making changes in prices due to this supposed boycott. Over at [Euroresidents.com->http://www.euroresidentes.com/Blogs/2004/12/christmas-spending-in-spain.htm] they had this to say about retailers lowering prices
Incidentally this year some shops have actually lowered the price of cava, because of the boycott against catalan cava which is being carried out by quite a large proportion of private sector companies and associations and some regional government institutions….Carod Rovira was forced to apologise last week when another Catalan regional party, CiU, claimed the boycott had led to cancellations of orders totalling 80.000 bottles. Carod Rovira said that his words had been taken out of all context and he did support Madrid’s candidature after all. But his apology may have come too late for many Catalan producers of cava who, according to the financial newspaper Cincodias, usually sell 58 percent of their yearly production over the Christmas period. The newspaper says that the smaller cava producers are already feeling the effects of the boycott, although the real damage done to overall sales will not be known until the end of January.
So have I heard anything here? Well in truth I talked to a retailer for ReservayCata, a local wine retail shop here in Madrid, and at first they mentioned that peopled had started to question which wines were from Catalonia and which were not. Though overall the difference in sales had not been that large.
One thing I did wonder about was the wine retail giant Lavinia in their monthly mailer had a feature on Champange instead of Cava. At a recent in store tasting I overheard one sales person explaining to a customer that this was not due to the “boycott” but rather due to a “special” promotion they were having. One has to wonder though if they wished to hedge their bets against a possible dip in sales.
All of this in the end reminds me of when I was selling wine in the states and we all heard calls to boycott French wine due to their lack of support for the war in Iraq. What I saw was a irrational turn towards avoiding French wine when in the end the average American saw less profit because of it. In fact one distributor explained to me that for every bottle of French wine sold 80% of the sale went to an American. Whether or not you support the American or French point of view on the war, this seems to be a case of cutting ones nose off to spite your face.
In the end I think sales might suffer slightly but in reality the only ones to suffer will be the Spanish as a whole.
Stay tuned this next week we hope to bring you a small tasting of some Cava’s to try this holiday season.
Till soon, Ryan Opaz
Sidenote: I did send emails to both the Consejo Regulador of Cava and Freixenet one of the biggest producers of Spanish Cava. As of now neither has returned my email, if int he future I hear from them I will publish their full response.