Best wine deals

webmaster Sun, 12/02/2012 - 14:40

The reputation of Spanish wine has changed enormously in recent years, and Catalonia is one of the regions that is now attracting attention from international connoisseurs as well as visitors.

There was a time when Spanish wine meant plonk, and the only Spanish vintage to have any international acclaim was Rioja. Nowadays, Spain has many different wine-growing regions, producing a range of increasingly high-quality wines.

Catalonia's wine regions
Catalonia has 10 wine regions officially classed as D.O. (Denominació d'Origen, similar to the French appellation contrôlée): Empordà-Costa Brava, near the French border; Alella, in the Maresme, a tiny area known for its white wines, on the outskirts of Barcelona; the well-known Penedès, to the southwest of Barcelona; the most recent, Pla de Bages, near Manresa; Conca de Barberà, with its modernista wine cellars, in Tarragona; Costers del Segre, home of Raimat wines, to the west in Lleida; and Tarragona, Terra Alta, Montsant and the Priorat with terraced vineyards on steep, slatey hillsides in the south.

In a bid for stronger identity in the international market, a recent controversial move by the large companies backed by the Generalitat (Catalan autonomous government) to introduce a denomination for the region as a whole, D.O. Catalunya, has been successful. The smaller denominations will continue to exist within this framework.

Penedès wine region
This is the Catalan region with the highest profile abroad, mostly due to the giant Torres, a family firm in Vilafranca del Penedès that exports wine to more than 90 countries, has vineyards in Chile and California, and is held in high esteem in the wine world. With the sixth generation of the family now in the business, they continue to produce award-winning wines such as Gran Coronas Black Label, Fransola, Gran Viña Sol and Viña Esmeralda.

Up-and-coming labels
One of the most fascinating areas is the Priorat, traditionally known for cheap, strong wines bought from barrels, but now producing some of the best-quality wine in the country. Large companies from La Rioja and the Penedès have started working there, and some highly prized wines are emerging from its low-yield, high-alcohol-content grapes.

La Ermita, from Riojan winemaker Alvaro Palacios, can sell for over 600 euros a bottle, depending on the vintage. Other wines to look out for, not necessarily so highly priced, are Cervoles, a red from Costers del Segre, Can Rafols dels Caus, Can Feixes and the ecological Albet i Noia wines from the Penedès, and Oliver Conti, from another up-and-coming area, the Empordà.

The home of cava
Ninety-five percent of Spain's cava is produced in Catalonia and the greater part from the Penedès, where it was created by Josep Raventós in 1872. From that celebrated first bottle grew the Codorníu empire, which along with Freixenet leads the cava industry. This sparkling wine, made by the méthode champenoise, is obligatory at fiestas.

About the author
Catalan wines are produced in Catalonia, an old European nation with a rich wine tradition, as well as being one of the top cork producing countries.


Whilst Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland. The territory of Italy covers some 301,338 km2 (116,347 sq mi) and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. With 60.6 million inhabitants, it is the fifth most populous country in Europe, and the 23rd most populous in the world.

Whilst Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland. The territory of Italy covers some 301,338 km2 (116,347 sq mi).