This past February 28 The Wine Advocate has released the new points reviews for wines from Priorat, Cavas and other denominations of origin from Catalonia. These ratings were made by Luis Gutiérrez, the wine expert for Spain. From a total of 800 wines tasted, 702 wines were released in three lists, these are given a rating of 90 or more points, indicating the high quality offered by the catalan wines.
For the first time a catalan wine got 100 Parker points, namely an ancient from Priorat: Arrels del Priorat Ca les Vinyes, with 100 years of winemaking, and of which only 60 bottles can be produced.
Luis Gutiérrez has reviewed not only wines, he also devoted himself to the 10 most common denominations of origin from Catalonia, such as the Priorat or the region of Cava, to explain them to the readers.
We think that you should not miss this article from Gutiérrez, and that is why we have made this summary for you. The complete article and all details can be found on the web of The Wine Advocate.
It is said that the Priorat is a small wine region with 2,000 hectares. In reality, the Alella is a coastal area in the north of Barcelona, and it is even smaller, with 300 hectares of one of the smallest denominations of Spain. The problem is that these vineyards are located very close to Barcelona, and the soil is of greater value for the building as for viticulture. Alella provides all varieties of wines: white wines, rosé, red wines, dessert wines, liqueurs and sweet wines. There are 20 different grape varieties, but the Xarello Blanca (locally called “Pansa Blanca”)is the most important variety.
This denominations of origin was established in 1999, and includes most of the wine regions of the provinces of Barcelona, Tarragona, Lerida and Gerona, regardless of whether they already belong to other denominations of origin. The variety is large with all manner of soil, climate and grape varieties: you have seek quite a lot to find the identity of the wine. On the other hand, it helps to open the quality spectrum.
CONCA DEL BARBERÀ
Conca del Barberà is located on the banks of the river Barberà. This is a denominations of origin with 5,000 hectares in the north of Tarragona, one of the Spanish provinces with most denominations of origin. Indigenous and French grapes are used, both the white wines, as well as the red wines. The soils are mainly calcareous, and the vineyards are on between 350 and 600 meters altitude.
COSTERS DEL SEGRE
It is a rather large denomination of origin, with many, very different sub-regions. 7 separate areas in the valleys of the river Segre, a major affluent of the Ebro, in the province of Lerida. The most interesting wines are produced in the vineyards of higher altitude, where the temperature differences between day and night are considerable. The ripening grape keeps fresh and acidic.
In the lower and flatter areas wines with international style are produced. During the last years, some of these wines from this denomination of origin has become known. The soil is mainly calcareous, which is ideal for the cultivation of the vine, and so fresh and tasty wines are made.
Until recently known as Empordà-Costa Brava, “Costa Brava” (a well known Tourist destination) was deleted of the label. Empordà is the catalan name for the county Empordà, around the area of the former Roman city Ampurias, in the northeastern province of Gerona at the French border. There, red wines, white wines and rosé wines are produced, in a modern and international style, with foreign grapes, and contrary to the tendency, to draw Mediterranean grapes like the white Garnacha and Macebo or the red Cariñena and Garnacha into consideration.
The Región is very large, with slate soils, as well as granite or limestone soils.
It is situated on a slope or on terraced vineyards, with influence of the sea, but protected by mountain ranges. 1,800 hectares are dedicated to vines, from sea level to 200 meters above sea level, and with 50 wine cellars.
Montsant is a new denomination of origin, formerly this was the subzone Falset of the denomination of origin Tarragona, but 2001 these became independent. Montsant is just a ring around the Priorat, with whom it shares many things: Grapes, climate, and in some areas even the soil. Most of the vineyards are planted in granite or calcareous clay soils, some grow in slate soils, such as in the Priorat so common llicorella. The cultivation height is also different from area to area, 200-700 meters, this denomination of origin is therefore very diverse.
The vineyards cover an area of around 2,000 hectares, more or less the same extent as the Priorat.
Penedès is one of the regions which strongly relies on international grapes since 20 or 30 years. At that time it looked as if it had been the right decision, but in the end it was not so, and today the Penedès find its personality in the autochthonous grape Xarello, one of the three classic grapes of Cava.
It is a huge region, located in the southwest of Barcelona: 23,000 hectares, 3,700 winegrowers and 160 wine cellars, who produce more than 14 million liters of wine. There are initiatives to create subdesignations within the denomination of origin Penedès, since there is a consensus that the soils and the micro-climate are very different, but at the moment it has not yet come to an agreement. For the white wines, 2011 was a difficult year, very hot and dry, whereas 2013 was exactly the opposite, fresh and moist. In 2012, fresher wines than in 2011 emerged, even though this year has been extremely dry.
PLA DE BAGÈS
Pla de Bagès is a small denomination of origin (450 hectares of vineyards and 11 cellars) inside the province of Barcelona, where the white and red grape Picapoll is grown. There is a good Merlot wine, a delicate grape, which apparently works well on these calcareous soils, together with the mediterranean and continental climate.
Tarragona was originally a very large denomination of origin, but fragmented when Montsant separated out in 2001 with its own identity. Today, more than 6,000 hectares are devoted to viticulture, and most of the juice is used for the production of vermouth, a popular drink that is produced in this region, and what is nothing more than a flavored wine. In this region outweigh the cooperatives, and only a handful of wine cellars are active in this area.
Terra Alta has long been a region well known for its quality, but has changed a lot in the last decade, with many new names. Has the most plots where the white Garnacha is grown, more than any other denomination of origin. The region has a typical mediterranean climate, with clay and limestone soils at 400 meters above sea level. The 6,000 hectares of vineyards are located in the westernmost part of Tarragona, and there you will find 48 wine cellars.
At eBuyWines.com we fortunately have many of these Parker-rated wines. If you want to taste one of these catalan wines, here you will find a list of available wines.