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Catalan wines

Catalonia is home to 12 different winemaking appellations making up a rich and diverse mosaic. Each has its own unique qualities but they all share a longstanding wine history going back to the Romans and Phoenicians. 

Most of the Catalan wine appellations are located close to the Mediterranean coast, running southwards from Empordà all the way down to the Ebro valley where we can find the Terra Alta region and other southern appellations such as: Priorat, Montsant, Conca de Barberà and Tarragona. Inland, near the town of Lleida, is home to the Costers del Segre vineyards which stretch as far north as the Pyrenees. 

Penedès and Alella are central regions to the south and north of Barcelona respectively, whereas Pla de Bages is a small inland region also north of Barcelona. DO Catalunya is a regional appellation covering different wineries spread around Catalonia which do not come under any of the other appellations, similar to DO Cava for sparkling wines produced in different areas of Spain.

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Winemaking Traditions

Catalan wine has a distinct character that reflects not only the terroir but also the passion and dedication of winemakers who have preserved these ancient traditions.

One of the most important winemaking traditions in Catalonia is maceration, which involves soaking grape skins and seeds in juice to extract colour, tannins, and aromas. This technique is particularly crucial for producing red wines like Priorat and Montsant, which are known for their deep colour and complexity. 

The process can take anywhere from several days to several weeks depending on the grape variety, temperature, and desired style.

Grape Varieties: Regional Specialties

Catalonia boasts a diverse range of grape varieties that have adapted to the region's climate and soil conditions over centuries.

One of the most popular grape varieties in Catalonia is Garnacha, also known as Grenache. This red grape thrives in hot and dry climates, making it an ideal choice for winemakers operating in the region's Mediterranean climate. Another standout variety is Samsó, a robust red grape that produces full-bodied wines with bold tannins.

Cava: Catalonia’s Sparkling Wine

Made using the same method as Champagne, Cava has gained popularity for its unique taste and affordable price point. Unlike Champagne, which can only be made using specific grapes grown in the Champagne region of France, Cava can be made with a variety of grapes grown throughout Spain.

Cava is typically made from a blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes - three varieties that are native to Catalonia.

Catalonia produces around 240 million bottles of Cava each year - more than any other region in Spain.

Priorat: Land of High-Quality Wines

Nestled in the heart of Catalonia, Priorat is a small but mighty wine region that has gained fame for its high-quality wines. With just over 2,000 hectares of vineyards, this landlocked region produces some of Spain's most sought-after wines. Known for their bold and intense flavours, Priorat wines are a true reflection of the rugged terrain they are grown in.

The unique terroir of Priorat plays a key role in producing these exceptional wines. The region's rocky soil and steep slopes provide excellent drainage and force the vines to work harder to reach water and nutrients deep below the surface. This results in low-yielding crops that produce grapes with concentrated flavours and aromas. 

Additionally, the hot Mediterranean climate combined with cool mountain breezes creates ideal growing conditions for grape varieties like Garnacha and Cariñena.