Your 2023 guide to Catalonia wine region
Travel Guide to Catalonia Wine Region
Catalonia wine region is one of the most popular destinations in Spain with amazing beaches its world-class gastronomy. Whether you decide to spend the day on the beaches of Catalonia or in the city, absolute splendour awaits. The unique architecture of the famous architect, Gaudi, Tarragona’s monastery of Poblet, the archaeological site at Tarraco, and the churches of the Boí Valley in Lleida, are all not to be missed. A fun-filled array of water activities available on the beaches of Catalonia wine region are second to none. Conversely, the region is also blessed with the Catalan Pyrenees Mountains, great for indulging in hiking, skiing, and other amazing adventures. Catalonia is also one of the top wine destinations in Spain. Among the region’s most famous wines is Cava, a fresh and fruit-forward sparkling wine made from Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada grapes.
For the wine experiences, check out our list of wine tastings & tours in Catalonia wine region.
Learn more about Catalonia Wine Region through our travel guide:
Catalonia wine regions
Where to taste Catalan wines
Top 3 places to visit + Natural places
Gastronomical specialities infused with sea and mountains of the region
Beach of Lloret de Mar, Catalonia Region, Spain
What you Should Know About Catalan Wines
Catalonia is a fascinating Spanish province, home to some of the most sought-after Spanish wines in the country. Penedès is the largest and most significant wine-producing region in Catalonia wine region. It is also one of the oldest wine-producing regions in Europe, with traces of early viticulture dating back to the sixth century BC. The diversity of its terrain makes it particularly well-suited for a variety of grapes. Today, it is known as the home of some of the most avant-garde wine producers in Spain. Its capital, the city Vilafranca del Penedès is also a popular destination for wine tourism, famous with its wine-related activities and wineries around.
Catalonia Wine Region Map
Distinctive Territories of Catalonia Wine Region
Just as Chianti and Barolo are the greatest region of red winemaking in Italy, Catalonia hosts 1 of 2 greatest appellations of Spanish red wines – Priorat (the other one is a separate wine region – Rioja). It is one of only two regions in Spain to have the special appellation D.O.C or Denominació d’Origen Qualificada, recognizing the outstanding quality and consistency of its wines. The special volcanic properties of the soil lend flavour to the wines and produce low-yielding vines compared to other regions.
Located in the northeast of Catalonia, near the popular seaside area known as the Costa Brava, the Empordà wine region has a long history of making rosé wine. And additionally, red wine accounts for 60 % of its annual production. The reds tend to be full-bodied and are sometimes aged in oak barrels for added depth of flavour. There are more than 20 grape varieties allowed under the official appellation DO Empordà including the non-native Gewürztraminer white grape variety.
Tarragona wine region is named after the southern Catalan town of Tarragona around which it is situated. The area has long had a history of producing rich, heavy reds, similar to fortified wines such as Port, which were already being enjoyed in the time of the Ancient Romans. Conca de Barberà is a historic wine-producing area in the province of Tarragona famous for its white wines, which account for more than 60 % of its total production.
Santa Maria de Poblet Cistercian monastery, Province of Tarragona, Catalonia wine region
The Wines of Catalonia Wine Region
The most traditional and popular wines of the region include Cava, a fresh style sparkling wine, dry white wines and powerful reds, known as “black” wine or vi Negre in Catalan, due to the colour of the wine. The grapes of the region include Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo which are used to create both Cava and white wines. Garnacha, Monastrell, and Tempranillo are used for red winemaking.
Catalonia wine regions focus mostly on what is considered Mediterranean grape varieties, primarily Garnacha and Carignan among red grapes, and Garnacha Blanca and Xarel-lo among white grapes. Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Trepat are also planted throughout Catalonia, as well as the white varieties Parellada and Macabeo (Viura in Rioja) that are primarily used for the production of Cava, Spain’s premier sparkling wine. Catalan wines tend to be full-bodied and high in alcohol, due to the grape varieties and the region’s warm weather conditions. But Catalonia’s best wines also feature intense minerality derived from vineyards planted on granite, chalk and fractured slate soils.
Organic vineyard in Priorat, Catalonia wine region, Spain
Story of Cava – Authentic Spanish Bubbles
While the majority of the region’s wines are the Cava blends, many varietal wines are also produced. The roots of the Cava wine industry can be traced back to Josep Raventos’ travels through Europe in the 1860s, where he was promoting the still wines of his Codorníu winery. His visits to the Champagne region sparked an interest in the potential of a Spanish version, using the same sparkling wine production methods. The local Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel·lo have since become established as the most popular grapes for producing Cava. Early versions were called Catalan champán or xampany after Champagne but this practice ended when the EU awarded Champagne Protected Geographical Status.
Catalan’s main sparkling wine producers agreed and adopted the name Cava after the Catalan word for a cellar, where the wines were traditionally stored. According to Spanish wine laws, Cava can be produced in six wine regions (such as Aranda de Duero, Navarra and Rioja) but 95% of Spanish Cava production takes place in the Penedès wine region. In order for the wines to be called ‘Cava’, they must be made in the traditional méthode champenoise.
A rosé style of Cava is also produced in small quantities by adding still red wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, or Monastrell to the wine.
Caves Planas Albareda and Giró del Gorner are producing sparkling wines under the appellation DO Cava.
Where to taste Catalan Wines
You can taste good quality Catalan wines everywhere across the region either in a wine bar with tapas or in a gourmet restaurant with fine dishes. However, we think that the best way to learn about these wines is to visit Wineries in Catalonia, where you will be able to discover the story and traditions behind your fine glass of Cava.
Check out some of our local partner wineries below:
At the foothills of national park
Ametller winery is located at the foothills of Ametller National Park surrounded with breathtaking landscapes.
Visit the winery and listen to their story of seven generations producing exceptional wines.
In the heart of Penedès
Caves Planas Albareda is a family-owned winery located in the heart of Penedès, an area of long winemaking tradition and good weather for grape cultivation.
The family produces wines exclusively from the grapes obtained from their own vineyards. You can discover the exceptional care given to their vineyards and wines in your glass.
Top 3 to Visit in Catalonia Wine Region
Barcelona – The True Heart and Soul of Spain
Wherever you are in Barcelona, there’s always something to see nearby around the neighbourhood or district: jewels of home-grown Catalan architecture, both modern and contemporary. Millions of visitors travel to Barcelona every year to see the iconic Sagrada Familia church or other modernist buildings designed by Gaudi. Even though Gaudi was born in Reus, a little town in the province of Tarragona, most of his works he dedicated to Barcelona. Discover some of Gaudi’s masterpieces while wandering around the city. Casa Milà, Casa Battló, The Park Güel and many more. Several markets are located throughout the city centre that entices the senses, as well as treasures of the ancient Roman and medieval city, and beautiful parks to wander through. markets that are a treat for the senses, treasures of the ancient Roman and medieval cities, and parks where you can unwind.
Check out our list of wineries near Barcelona to discover amazing wine experiences.
Park Güell, the park of Gaudi, Barcelona, Spain
The Costa Brava – Travel On the Footsteps of Salvador Dali
The Costa Brava runs the length of the coast from north of Barcelona all the way to the French border. The area is characterized by quaint little villages, rugged coastlines, mountainous peaks, and stunning beaches. The best way to reach some places in Costa Brava is to hire a car as many towns are difficult to reach by public transport.
One of Costa Brava’s most famous former residents is the eccentric artist Salvador Dalí. Dalí was born in the town of Figueres, around 43km north of Girona. Here you will find one of the most celebrated museums of Salvador Dali, Dali Theatre-Museum. Other great spots to visit include his quirky summer home in Portlligat and his castle in the town of Púbol. The Costa Brava is without a doubt home to some of the country’s best beaches. They may not belong and sweeping – but they’re small and intimate, surrounded by soaring clifftops and unusual rock formations. Many beaches can be reached on foot by climbing down steep coastal paths. Below you will often find private, pebbly shorelines kissed by clear blue waters.
Tossa Del Mar, Costa Brava, Spain
Girona – A Classic Medieval Town
Girona, an intriguing town, which sits between Barcelona and Costa Brava, has medieval walls, narrowed city streets, and one of the best-preserved Jewish Quarters in Europe. The historic city of Girona is filled with architectural landmarks, fascinating museums, and an impressive array of churches, cathedrals and monasteries. When you’ve had your fill of history and quaint cobbled streets, however, you’ll find that there’s a lot more to Girona than meets the eye. The historic Catalan city of Girona is known for its well-preserved Jewish quarter, unique history, festivals, and, of course, its architecture. Girona lies approximately 100km northeast of Barcelona and is well worth a day trip for anyone staying in the area.
Discover all Spanish wine-growing regions in this article.
Bringing you Closer to the Natural World
Catalonia wine region is home to a range of beautiful coves and beaches, tall and uniquely sculptured mountain ranges, and wide rivers that turn into deltas when they reach the sea. Moreover, here, you can also enjoy freshwater streams, endless natural parks, lakes, dormant volcanoes, and loads of fun. Nature is ever-present in Catalonia in multiple forms with thousands of options to explore.
Natural Park That Embodies the Beauty of Pyrenees Mountain
The Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park presents the typical high mountain features of the Pyrenees, as well as its own distinguishing feature, the water. This park is characterized by its crystal-clear waters that run through its many lakes and rivers and make this Pyrenean landscape rich. As well as the torrents and waterfalls, there are thick forests that look extremely beautiful when it snows. But its landscape is not the only important feature, the biological diversity is extraordinary. It is a real paradise for nature lovers with rugged landscapes, a biodiversity of plants, and interesting flora and fauna.
Cap de Creus National Park – a True Ocean Paradise
The peninsula of Cap de Creus constitutes the last buttress of the Pyrenees and the easternmost point of the Iberian Peninsula. The coast is abrupt and jagged, with towering cliffs and remote coves. The park was created in 1998 and is the first natural park covering both sea and land in Catalonia.
Within the land area there are 3 natural zones of declared national interest: to the north, the sector around Cap Gros-Cap de Creus; to the south, the sector around Punta Falconera-Cap Norfeu; and to the west, the sector of the Serra de Rodes.
Inside the Natural Park of Cap de Creus, one can take part in a very large number of leisure activities and visits. The walking and mountain bike itineraries are especially attractive. The majority of the walking itineraries follow the tracks of former cattle trails, which gives them an added interest. A very interesting itinerary from the botanical, geological, and scenic point of view is the path from Mas Paltré in Port de la Selva, to Cap de Creus, following the route of the GR-11 long-distance footpath.
Camino de Ronda – Exploring Catalonia on Foot
The Camíno de Ronda, also known as the Costa Brava Way, is a public footpath that traverses the rugged and picture-perfect calas all the way along the Costa Brava. This path provides a perfect out-of-season adventure, or escape from bustling beaches during the summer, and the chance to discover the Catalan Coast from a unique perspective. Dating from the 19th century, the Camíno de Ronda originated as a series of small pathways connecting one cove to the next, enabling fishermen, smugglers, sailors, travellers, lighthouse keepers, and cart and mule drivers, to navigate this once remote coastal territory.
Camino de Ronda, Catalonia, Spain
This historic hiking trail invites visitors to follow in the footsteps of the many heroes and villains, artists, and dreamers who once roamed these parts, and become acquainted with another Costa Brava. The Catalan coastal mountain range, which runs parallel to the coast, sets the backdrop for the southern stretch between Blanes and Pals, where tree-clad hills drop down to erratically shaped rocky coves, crystal clear waters, secret sandy inlets, and long golden beaches.
Moving north, the landscape becomes progressively wilder, as towering limestone cliffs give way to bio-diverse wetlands and ancient Greco-Roman ruins. Finally, the igneous Pyrenean foothills emerge dramatically out of the sea between Cap de Creus and the French border. The overall trail can be broken down into 12 stages and is of easy-moderate difficulty. It can be undertaken in its entirety as a 12-day hike, backpack on tow, or simply a day or half day’s walk between resorts.
Gastronomical Specialties of Catalonia Wine Region
One cannot think well, love well or sleep well if one has not eaten well
Catalonia wine region has become renowned internationally for its food and gastronomy culture. In recent years, the new wave of experimental gastronomic chefs has brought the region to the world’s attention. However, Catalonia wine region has been a must-visit location for food lovers for many years. Its location on the Mediterranean coast offers a generous and varied selection of ingredient options, allowing for some imaginative results. Due to Catalonia’s location on the coast, seafood dishes are impressive and vegetables such as tomatoes, red peppers, aubergines, mushrooms, and artichokes are in abundance. However, it is easy to forget that a lot of Catalonia is also made up of mountains and fields where pigs and sheep can roam. Thus, the Catalan interest in ‘May Y Mantagna’ (‘Sea and Mountain’ – think ‘Surf n Turf’) – the concept of having fish and meat on the same plate is continually evolving.
Esqueixada de Bacalla- the Quintessential Taste of Catalan
Esqueixada is a traditional Catalan dish, a salad of shredded salt cod, tomatoes, onions, olive oil and vinegar, salt, and sometimes a garnish of olives or hard-boiled eggs. Esqueixada is particularly popular in warm weather and is sometimes considered a summertime dish. Esqueixada is sometimes described as the “Catalan ceviche” because it is made with raw fish (although the cod is salt-cured and dried) in a marinade. The name of the dish comes from the Catalan verb esqueixar, to tear or shred. The salt cod in the dish is always shredded with the fingers, never sliced or chopped, to achieve the correct texture.
Faves a la Catalana – The Taste of Catalonia
Faves a la Catalana is a traditional Spanish dish originating from Catalonia. The dish is made with fava beans (broad beans) that are cooked in stock with a bit of botifarra negra (blood sausage). Apart from those key ingredients, the dish also contains bacon, onions, garlic, tomatoes, white wine, olive oil, and paprika. Faves a la Catalana has been prepared for hundreds of years, and some of the recipes date back to the mid-19th century. Nowadays, this hearty stew is typically consumed during the harvest season (from February to late June), and it’s traditionally served in an earthenware dish.
Faves a la Catalana
Espinacs amb Panses I Pinyons – Traditional Spinach Served with Raisins and Pine Nuts
This traditional dish is made by sautéing fresh spinach and adding fired pine nuts, chopped garlic, raisins, and often finely chopped bacon. The result is a healthy, tasty, and texture-filled treat.
Insider Tips about Catalonia Wine Region
Where to eat in Catalonia wine region?
Restaurant La Taba
- Address: Carrer Sant Pere, 43, 03590 Altea, Alicante, Spain
- Menu: Spanish and Argentinian style, vegetarian and vegan options
- Specialties: Grilled meat
Cal Pepe Restaurant
- Address: Plaça de les Olles, 8, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
- Menu: Spanish, Mediterranean
- Specialty: Fish, seafood, tapas
Ermita de Puigcervé
- Address: 43365 Alforja, Tarragona, Spain
- Menu: Spanish
- Specialties: Quick meals
Where to stay in Catalonia wine region?
- Address: Vall de Sant Llorenç, 17, 43782 Vilalba dels Arcs, Tarragona, Spain
- Facilities and services: Breakfast and half board packages available, restaurant
Ermita de Puigcervé
- Address: 43365 Alforja, Tarragona, Spain
- Facilities and services: Shared kitchen and dining room
Hotel Les Capçades
- Address: 43596 Horta de Sant Joan, Tarragona, Spain
- Facilities and services: Pool, massages available
The best wine bars in Catalonia wine region
- Address: Carrer Méndez Núñez, 10, 43004 Tarragona, Spain
- Wine menu: Local wines
- Address: Carrer de Santa Anna, 6, 43003 Tarragona, Spain
- Wine menu: International and Local producers
- Address: Carrer de les Barques, 5, 43850 Cambrils, Tarragona, Spain
- Wine menu: Local wines
What to do in Catalonia?
Visit Escornalbou Castle and Monastery
- Address: Carretera d’Escornalbou, s/n 43771 Riudecanyes Tarragona
Visit La Sagrada Familia
- Address: Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
Enjoy a beach day in Platja de Fenals
- Address: Playa de Fenals, 17310, Spain
Frequently Asked Questions about Catalonia Wine Region
Catalonia wine region is located in the south of the eastern Pyrenees, bordering France and along the Mediterranean coast. The region has almost 600 km of coastline, being strongly influenced by the maritime climate.
Catalonia wine region has different sub-regions dividing the main area and those are also appellations, namely: Costers del Segre, Emporda, Cava, Penedes, Pla de Bages, Alella, Conca de Barbera, Tarragona, Montsant, and Terra Alta as DOs and Priorat, as DOCa. The region itself is also an appellation (Catalunya DO).
Catalonia wine region has an interesting array of grape varieties, with the whites Chardonnay, Grenache Blanca, Macabeo, Muscat, Parellada, and sparkling Cava, alongside with the reds Tempranillo (locally known as Ull de Llebre), Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Pinot Noir, Carignan, Trepat, Merlot and Monastrell completing the range.
When looking for Catalonian wines, try the powerful and full-bodied reds from Priorat. The wines of this region tend to have flavors of red and dark fruits, carrying bold tannins, with grapes such as Garnacha (grenache) and Cariñena.
Catalonia has incredible wines, but one highlight of this wine region is the Cava sparkling wine from Penedès. This dry white is sometimes referred to as the “Spanish version of champagne”, using traditional grapes such as Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada.
Vinyes Del Terrer
Family-run winery using its unique regional qualities to produce the best wines
Meet the family whose ancestors were used to make wines in Penedes since the 16th century
BUIL & GINÉ
6 generations dedicated to perfecting wines
Celler Jordi Lluch
Meet the owners who are the only producers of organic Cava in the Penedes region.
Celler Joan Ametller
Discover the winery boasting a seven-generation of winemaking business.
Can Calopa De Dalt
Producing a unique wine, Vinyes de Barcelona, the only wine in the city.
Costers del Segre
Celler Crivellé I Valls
See how the nearly century old vines have stood the test of time
Joan Manuel, a Well-Known Barcelona Guitarist & Singer, has a Partnership with Perinet
Sangenís I Vaqué
A taste of history with a Modern touch
Map of Wineries in Catalonia
Discover the locations of wineries in Catalonia
Costers del Segre
Pla de Bages
Conca de Barberà
Visit our selection of the best wineries in Catalonia wine region that you can book during your stay.
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Catalonia wines – Apellations of origin in Catalonia –
Catalonia wines – Apellations of origin in Catalonia -Catalonia wines – Apellations of origin in Catalonia –
Wine regions> Catalonia> Wines
Catalonia is an Autonomous Community that looks like a triangle on the most northeastern part of the Iberian Peninsula.
It is bordering France by the Pyrenees to the north and the Autonomous Community of Aragon to the west. There is a short segment of land that is touching Valencia to the south and the east side of Catalonia is covered by the Mediterranean Sea.
The Catalan capital is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, very well-known all over the world, and even more after organizing the Olimpics in 1992… we are talking about Barcelona! Catalonia is a land of amazing arts, beautiful monuments and gorgeous gastronomy. The mountains, the plains and the sea offer stunning landscapes with unlimited options for tourists. And maybe we could say the same adjectives about its magnificent wines…
Catalonia wines – List of Appelation
The first vines were planted by the Greek more than 2,500 years ago. They created a coastal colony called Emporion (currently Ampurias –Empúries in Catalan language–) for trading purposes. Later on the Romans expanded the wine culture all over Catalonia and Hispania. After the terrible arrival of phylloxera into Europe (XIX Century), Catalonia reinvented itself with one of the most famous sparkling wines worlwide: the Cava! But Catalan wines are much more than that! Let’s see a fast overhaul about it.
From East to West these are the Catalan wine regions:
D.O. Empordà (1972)
It is located on the northeast corner of Catalonia, facing the Mediterranean Sea to the East and the French border to the North. The amount of rain is high and the whole area is under the influence of Tramontana winds (trans-mountainous) so this gives a fresh and fruity character to its wines. The region is subdivided into the High Empordà and the Low Empordà. The allowed grape varieties are Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo and Moscatel de Alejandria for white wines; and Cariñena (Carignan), Garnacha, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo (Ull de Llebre) for the red wines. The made-of-Garnacha liqueur wines are also remarkable.
D.O. Alella (1932)
After a 30min drive to the North along the Mediterranean coast from Barcelona, you will get the D.O. Alella. To make white wines they can produce the following types of grapes (varietals): Xarel·lo (Pansa Blanca), Garnacha Blanca, Chardonnay, Macabeo, Parellada, Chenin, and Sauvignon Blanc. For red making they are allowed to produce Pansa Rosada (Xarel·lo Vermell), Picapoll (Piquepoul), Tempranillo (Ull de Llebre), Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir.
D.O. Penedès (1960)
Heading southwest from Barcelona (almost 1-hour drive), you will get one of the most famed Catalan wine regions. Penedès shares the same geographic zone with part of the D.O. Cava. The wine region has been traditionally subdivided into High (deepest inland), Medium and Low (coastal) Penedès, but there is one more accurate subdivision in 7 areas: Serra d’Ancosa, Valls des Bitlles Anoia, Conca del Riu Anoia, Conca del Riu Foix, Costers del Montmell, Massis del Garraf i Coster d’Ordal, Marina del Garraf. The allowed white varieties are Macabeo, Xarel·lo, Parellada, Chardonnay and Malvasia (Subirat Parent). The red varieties are Garnacha, Monastrell (Mourvedre), Tempranillo (Ull de Llebre), Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot y Samsó (Cinsaut).
D.O. Pla de Bages (1997)
This wine region is located near Manresa which is about 1-hour drive inland towards the northwest of Barcelona. This land has a Mountain-Mediterranean climate so this means they have less rain and more extreme temperatures than in Barcelona for instance. There are two subzones, the higher is called Alt Bages and the lower Pla del Bages (Pla means Plain). The white varieties consist of Macabeo, Picapoll, Parellada, and Chardonnay. The reds are Tempranillo (Ull deLlebre), Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha.
D.O. Tarragona (1932)
This wine region has a mild average temperature and a very irregular pluviometry. It is located along the coastline heading southwest from Barcelona and has two main areas: Camp de Tarragona (inland and higher) and Rivera d’Ebre. The allowed white varieties by the Regulatory Counsil are Chardonnay, Garnacha Blanca, Moscatel de Alejandria, Moscatel Frontignan, Parellada, Sauvignon blanc, Malvasia (Subirat parent), Macabeo and Xarel·lo. The allowed reds are Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Merlot, Monastrell (Mourvedre), Pinot Noir, Samsó (Cinsaut), Syrah and Tempranillo (Ull de Llebre). It should be noted the local liqueur wine that can be sweet or dry rancid. Vermouths are also pretty common within the area.
D.O. Conca de Barberá (1989)
The Francoli river basin is where the vineyards of the Conca de Barberá are spreading out. The white wine production depends on Parellada, Chardonnay, and Macabeo. The reds could come from Trepat, Tempranillo (Ull de Llebre), Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
D.O. Costers del Segre (1988)
This is the deepest inland wine region in Catalonia and therefore it is higher in altitude than any other one. The climate is Continental, with low rain, more sun exposure, and temperature contrasts. It covers a big surface in comparison with the other Catalan wine regions. Due to this, it is possible to split the region in 6 different subzones: Artesa, Les Garrigues, Pallars Jussà, Raimat, Segrià and Valls del Riu Corb. The allowed white varieties are Albariño, Macabeo, Xarel·lo, Parellada, Chardonnay, Garnacha Blanca, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. The allowed reds are Garnacha Negra, Tempranillo (Ull de Llebre), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Monastrell (Mourvedre), Trepat, Samsó (Cinsaut), Pinot Noir and Syrah.
D.O. Montsant (2002)
Before the year this wine region was created, it was belonging as a subzone to the D. O. Tarragona under the name of Falset. The hilly and mountainous conditions make this area more similar to Priorat and because of this, it earned the D.O. label since it could be a transition land between the D.O. Tarragona and the D.O.Ca. Priorat. It is a wine region for powerful and full-body reds made of Garnacha and Cariñena (Carignan) grape varieties.
D.O.Ca. Priorat (1932)
‘Priorat’ in Catalan, ‘Priorato’ in Spanish and ‘Priory’ in the English language… This is a beautiful hidden land within a mountain range where monks settled their communities in Middle Ages looking for a peaceful place… and for growing vines! But the conditions are really tough: the steep mountains, the rocky environment, the slaty soils (locally called ‘llicorella’) and the vineyards on micro plots along terraces make working here a nightmare! Because of this, the D.O.Ca. Priorat has the highest distinctions as a tribute to the human effort and to the magnificent quality of its wines. This wine region is ‘Calificada’ that means ‘Qualified’ (only Rioja has the same category in Spain) and it is considered a ‘heroic viticulture land’ due to its difficult working and vine-growing conditions (there are four areas in Spain: Priorat –Catalonia–, Ribeira Sacra –Galicia–, Cangas –Asturias– and Hierro Island –Canaries–). The wonderful reds from Priorat are coming from Cariñena (Carignan) and Garnacha grape varieties. In addition to these, it is possible to use Garnacha Peluda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The whites are made from Garnacha blanca, Macabeo, Pedro Ximenez, Chenin and Viogner. Learn here more about the wines from Priorat
D.O. Terra Alta (1972)
The meaning of its name is ‘Highland’ because this wine region is located inland being the most southern Catalan wine region. It gets either both Continental and Mediterranean climate influence with a low pluviometry. The allowed white varieties by the Regulatory Council of the D.O. are Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Parellada, Chardonnay, and Moscatel. The reds are Garnacha, Tempranillo (Ull de Llebre), Cariñena (Carignan), Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
D.O. Cava (1986)
Despite of a wine region definition should be a ‘Protected geographical indication that is used to check where the grapes for a wine where have been grown’; this does not work this way in the case of the D.O. Cava which could have this another definition: ‘All that different areas that are making wine (in Spain) following the traditional Champenoise Method’. This wine is called Cava and it could be made in many different locations but 95% is made within Catalonia (we could say that Cava and Penedès regions are superimposed). Having such amount of percentage of the cake, Cava is considered the main ambassador of Catalan wines and has two powerful competitors worldwide: the French Champagne and the Italian Prosecco. By the way, a Cava is a wine ‘Cave’ and probably you know that a natural sparkling wine needs to make a second fermentation within the bottle and a bottle-aging period afterward (no better place than a cave to carry out this process). The varieties to make a white Cava usually are Macabeo, Xarel·lo and Parellada. In the North of Spain (Rioja, Navarra) the Macabeo is called Viura. Two more white options could be Malvasia or Chardonnay. There are some red varieties to make a rosé Cava: Garnacha, Monastrell (Mourvedre), Pinot Noir and Trepat.
D.O. Calalunya (2001)
This is a modern concept D.O. that covers most of the surface of Catalonia. It was designed to compete on the international markets so it has a larger range of grape varietals and wines to offer. The permited white grapes are Chardonnay, Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Moscatel de Alejandria, Parellada and Xarel·lo. The reds are Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Garnacha Peluda, Merlot, Monastrell (Mourvedre), Pinot Noir, Samsó and Tempranillo (Ull de Llebre).
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Wines of Catalonia, Spain –
Catalonia has always stood apart, including in matters of wine production. The craving for maximum autonomy, independence and authenticity is in the blood of the Catalans, and these features are clearly seen in the traditions of winemaking. Despite its modest size (Catalonia includes 4 provinces – Barcelona, Gerona, Lleida and Tarragona, less than ¼ of the total population of Spain lives here), this region is characterized by a variety of terroirs, and therefore, styles of wines.
The Spanish cava, which has challenged the traditional French champagne, has truly glorified Catalonia. Almost 95% of all cava in Spain is produced in Catalonia. In addition to sparkling, excellent light white wines are made in this region, as well as full-bodied, bright reds, which are very similar to French Roussillon wines: this region belonged to Spain until the 17th century, so winemaking traditions are very similar here.
Production features and classification of wines
The success of Catalan wines ensures the favorable geographical position of this region: the vineyards are stretched along the Mediterranean coast in the north-eastern part of the country. The climate is temperate and not dry, the soils are diverse, due to which winemakers have the opportunity to grow many different varieties of grapes.
Catalonia has a wine classification system similar to that of Spain. If you want to buy Catalan wine, choose among:
- Table wines. Only grape varieties are indicated on the bottle, the wines are young and not expensive.
- Vin Roble. They are aged for at least 6 months in barrels.
- Wine Crianza. The aging period is at least 2 years, of which at least 6 months in oak. The price of these Catalan wines corresponds to their quality.
- Vin Reserva. Segment of elite alcohol. It is assumed 3 years of aging, of which at least 12 months – in oak.
- Gran Reserva premium wine. Aged for at least 5 years (over 2 years in oak).
The history of winemaking in Catalonia
Wine trade in the territory of modern Catalonia was carried out as early as the 6th century. BC. In those days, the Phoenicians sold wine to the Egyptians, then the Romans mastered winemaking. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the vines were bred and the monks in the Middle Ages began to make wine again in Catalonia. The monasteries made such rich, strong and thick wines that they even had to be diluted with water. The situation changed in the 19th century when phylloxera attacked Europe. Then the wines of Catalonia and Rioja succeeded in replacing well-known French analogues on the international market, the industry began to develop successfully. In addition, in 1872 the legendary kava was “born”. However, the heyday did not last long: phylloxera reached the Spanish regions, after which many vineyards had to be restored literally from scratch. It was possible to increase the potential in the second half of the 20th century: since then, winemaking in Catalonia has been gaining momentum. More and more high-class wines of their autochthonous varieties appear here, which compete with the products of the Old World, as well as high-quality wines from international varieties, which, in terms of taste and price, are quite comparable to the best samples from the New World. The advantage and strong competitive side of Catalonia is the hard work of local winemakers, their desire to introduce advanced technologies along with the use of ancient traditions.
Main grape varieties and appellations of Catalonia
Catalonia has over 10 DO (Protected Designation of Origin) appellations and 1 DOQ/DOCa (the highest category given to regions where high-quality wines have been produced over a long period of time).
The DO category includes:
- DO Catalunya is the largest appellation.
- DO Alella. Located near Barcelona, it specializes in the production of white wines, the main grape variety is Charello.
- D.O. Penedes. It is this region that is the birthplace of the Spanish cava. There are 3 sub-zones here: Lower, Upper and Central Penedes and a separate section of Penedes Superior. In addition to cava, the region also produces blended and segregated dry red wines and white wines of Superior quality. Local drinks are valued for their bright character and rich bouquet. The main varieties for the production of still wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Tempranillo, Macabeo and others.
- DO Cava. Local sparkling is prepared using traditional champagne technology, but unlike champagne, they use completely different varieties – Macabeo, Parellada, Charello and others. Cava Rosé is made from Garnacha, Subirat, Pinot Noir.
- DO Conca de Barbera. The main grape varieties are red Trepat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Garnacha, white Chardonnay, Parellada and Macabeo. The region is famous for its young and light white, rosé and red wines.
- DO Costers del Segre. Local wines are very reminiscent of the New World. The main grape varieties are white Macabeo, Charello, Parelyada, Chardonnay, red Garnacha, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Carignan.
- DO Emporda DO. Due to its proximity to Roussillon, they produce wines very similar to French reds and rosés. The main varieties are Garnacha and Carignan.
- DO Montsant. They produce soft and not high-alcohol wines from Carignan, Garnacha, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon varieties.
- DO Pla de Bages. A region very similar to Penedes, specializing not only in indigenous varieties, but also in Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- DO Tarragona. The region is located around the oldest city in Southern Catalonia, Tarragona. Winemaking has been developed here since Roman times. Red fortified and light white wines are produced from Carignan and Macabeo.
- DO Terra Alta. Previously, mainly white grape varieties for cava were grown here – Garnacha Blanc, Parellada, but now red Tempranillo, Carignan and Garnacha are reclaiming more and more vineyard areas.
There is only one DOQ in Catalonia, this is Priorat. The wine pearl of Catalonia, a region that is famous for its dense, rich, aromatic aged red wines from the autochthonous varieties of Carignan and Garnacha. A characteristic feature of this zone is low productivity, it is due to this that Priorat wines are so rich and with complex bouquets. These wines confidently compete with the products of Burgundy and Bordeaux wineries.
Buy the best red, white and rosé wines of Catalonia, as well as local cava in Moscow, at PREMIER-WIN. Stay tuned for updates to our online showcase and promotions so as not to miss the opportunity to purchase your favorite drinks at the lowest price.
Wines of Catalonia: what do we pay for? – Wine tourism in Catalonia
The history of winemaking in Spain. Differences between Catalan wines and traditional Spanish wines. Classification of Spanish wines.
Spain is not only Barcelona and an endless series of golden sandy beaches of the Mediterranean coast. True connoisseurs of Spanish national culture and traditions come to this paradise just not in hot summer, but in late autumn.
At this time, the Castilian and Catalan vineyards lean to the ground under the weight of sun-drenched grapes, and elite varieties of wines flow into the cellars of golden and red rivers.
Catalan wines differ from traditional Spanish wines in their noble velvety taste and special temperament. Tasting real Catalan wines should be in the province. The most famous distilleries (butegues) are dispersed in four Catalan provinces: Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona, Lleida.
Some Catalan distilleries originated in the days of ancient Greece or the Roman Empire and have a long history and only they produce the 12 best elite varieties of Catalan wines: Cava, Alella, Catalunya, Ampurdan-Costa Brava, Conca de Barbera, Montsant, Costers del Segre, Penedes, Priorato, Pla de Bages, Terra Alta and Tarragona.
Centuries-old domination of the Arabs has practically destroyed the culture of winemaking in Spain and in Catalonia in particular. But the Arabs told the world about the art of distillation, having mastered which the Spaniards began to produce their elite brandy.
In the 19th century, Spanish sparkling wines almost completely replaced the famous French champagne and began to be supplied to the French Royal Court.
A revolution in the art of winemaking in Catalonia was made by Miguel Torres (a native of Penedès), who once presented several varieties of Catalan wines at the French wine Olympics Gault-Millau. As a result, in the prestigious Cabernet nomination, the Spanish Torres Gran Coronas Black Label of 1970 was recognized as the best even in comparison with the famous Bordeaux wines.
Elite wines are made from the best grape varieties: Carignena, Charello, Ganchara, Macabeo, Parillada, Chardonnay, Tempranillo, Picpoul, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malvasia. Many of these varieties have been grown here for 2000 thousand years.
Most of the technology of wine production came to the Catalan lands with the Catholic monks. Some distilleries still produce wine according to the old medieval recipes of the first winemaker monks.
Spanish wine classification
When tasting Spanish wine, you need to have at least an idea of which category it belongs to. Label with D.O. S. (Demonication de Origen Calificada) unequivocally means that this is one of the 12 elite wines of the highest category.
Marking D.O. means that you have before you the best wine of the regional quality standard. Vino de Messa is a table wine made from mixed grape varieties. The label de la Tierra means that you have one of the original local wines in front of you.
Of course, all these original wines can only be tasted in Spain. The only exceptions are declassified brands of Spanish wines (Comarsal), which, according to international standards, are classified as defective wine due to non-compliance with production technology or poor quality of the grape harvest.
Not all Catalan wines are classified as D.O. In this case, the label indicates either the style of the wine or the grape variety from which it is made. So, for example, sparkling wines (cava) are labeled according to their sugar content: from Seco (dry wines: Brut Nature or Brut) and Semi-seco (semi-dry wines) to Semi-dulce (semi-sweet wines) and Dulce (sweet wines).
Catalan wines have an absolutely incredible bouquet. This can be, for example, a light and harsh aroma of white wines or a rich and mature taste of red wine.
Or the traditional “moscatel” bouquet typical of the sweet wines of Tarragona and Sitges. “Chardonnay” is distinguished by a mixed bouquet of aromas of tropical fruits, vanilla of young oak and a nutty note. Cabernet Sauvignon is traditionally known for its intense blackcurrant aroma.
Modern Catalan wines are characterized by blended bouquets of grapes traditionally grown in Spain with European varieties – the know-how of the famous Spanish wine company Torres.