New regulations concerning the production of Cava are being welcomed by the UK trade.

White Cava is traditionally made from Xarel-lo, Parell­ada and Macabeo grapes, which are indigenous to Spain, though Chardonnay is also permitted. Under new rules the blend can now include Pinot Noir.

"Pinot Noir has a strong consumer image as a fine grape variety so this is a really exciting development for us," said Jo Maclean, marketing manager for Cordoníu, one of the biggest Cava brands.

The use of Pinot Noir is already permitted in the production of pink Cava but it is hoped the inclusion in the more popular white blends will make the category even more accessible to consumers.

"The addition of Pinot Noir will add another dimension to the body, flavour and quality of our wines," said Jordi Ratera, technical director at Cordoníu.

The new rules also state that the minimum age of a Reserva Cava is now to be 15 rather than nine months.