The world of Spanish wines

Catalonia DOs (Part II)

Catalonia produces a quarter of all the wine produced in Spain. The better known designation of origin is DOCa Priorat, which was awarded the Qualified Designation of Origin stamp in recognition for the excellent quality of their Catalonia wines.

DO Costers del Segre

Spanish Wine - Costers del Sagre

The DO Costers del Segre, established in 1986 and located in the province of Lérida, close to Barcelona, is divided in four different main areas:

  • Raimat is closer to the Huesca border, has a soft relief and produces white and red wines and cava.
  • Artesa is to the northeast of the city of Lérida, where the Segre river flows. It has a rugged relief and an extreme climate. Artesa produces reds, whites and rosés.
  • Vall de Riu Corb and Les Garrigues are located in the southeast of the province, right on the border with Tarragona. It's the dryest area and it produces red and white wine.

The vines are planted between 820 and 2300 feet of altitude and mostly enjoy a continental climate of extreme temperatures, with frequent frosts in winter and very hot summers. There are many grape varieties allowed, like Macabeo, Xarel·lo and Parellada in whites and Garnacha Negra, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon in reds.

DO Costers del Segre produces different types of Catalonia wines:

  • White: Alcohol content between 10.5% and 14.5%
  • Rosé: Alcohol content between 10.5% and 13.5%
  • Red: Alcohol content between 11% and 14.5%
  • Quality sparkling wine: Alcohol content between 10.8% and 12.8%

DO Montsant

Spanish Wine - Montsant

The DO Montsant, established in 2001, is in the central part of the Tarragona province, just under Barcelona, surrounding another designation of origin, DO Priorat. The vines that produce these excellent Catalonia wines are planted in the Falset valley, enclosed by mountains. The climate is Mediterranean with continental aspects. The winters are cold and the rain scarce, but the humid garbinada breezes lessen the natural dryness of the area.

The allowed grape varieties are Chardonnay, Garnacha blanca, Moscatel, Pansal and Parellada in whites and Samsó, Garnacha tinta, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha peluda, Merlot, Monastrell, Picapoll negro and Syrah in reds. The alcohol contents of the wines produced by DO Montsant are:

  • Red: Minimum alcohol content of 12.5%
  • White: Minimum alcohol content of 11.5%
  • Rosé: Minimum alcohol content of 12.5%

DO Penedès

Spanish Wine - Penedès

DO Penedes is known for its excellent, fresh and fruity white wines, with a moderate alcohol content. Reds are soft, with a velvety texture and quite a character. Penedes wines are very appreciated outside of Spanish borders. Do you want to learn more about Penedes wines?

DO Pla de Bages

Spanish Wine - Pla de Bages

DO Pla del Bages is one of the smallest designations of origin in Spain, and quite recent too, as it was established in 1995. It's located in the province of Barcelona. Like in most of Spain, wine making in this area can be traced back to the Romans. The phylloxera plague was specially brutal in this region, and the wine industry didn't pick up until the end of the 20th century.

The area where the vines are planted (following the course of the Llobregat river) is surrounded by mountains which protects the plants and created a Mediterranean microclimate with little rain and big thermic variations. The production area is divided in two, Pla de Bages being the lowest at 650 feet of altitude; and Alt Bages the highest at 1600 feet of altitude.

The accepted grape varieties for these Catalonia wines are many, like Garnacha Tinta, Tempranillo, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon for reds and Macabeo, Parellada or Picapoll for whites. The alcohol content of the Catalonia wines of DO Pla de Bages is:

  • Red: Minimum alcohol content of 11.5%
  • White: Minimum alcohol content of 10%
  • Rosé: Minimum alcohol content of 10.5%

DOCa Priorat

Spanish Wine - Priorat

Priorat wines are, together with Rioja, the best wines Spain has to offer. Proof of this is the DOCa qualification they've got. This means that the quality of the wines is above the quality of the designation of origin. Don't you want to learn more about these excellent wines?

DO Tarragona

Spanish Wine - Tarragona

The DO Tarragona is in the central and east part of Tarragona, its production area divided in two: One on the Ebro bank (Ribera del Ebro) and the other near the Catalan Coast mountain range (El Camp). There was another area known as Falset which separated from this DO in 2001 and established its own designation of origin: DO Montsant. Tarragona, with it's high insolation and closeness to the beach, is one of the great tourist destinations in Catalonia.

The general climate in which these Catalonia wines are produced is Mediterranean, with more continental aspects in the higher areas. The annual medium temperature in this region is around 16ºC. The allowed varieties of grapes in DO Tarragona are Macabeo, Garnacha blanca, Parellada and Xarelo in whites and Garnacha, Mazuela and Ull de Llebre in reds. Around 70% of the production of DO Tarragona consists of white wines, and they also produce reds and rosés. The alcohol content for all three must be between 11% and 13%. There are three main types of wine:

  • Tarragona Campo: Must be produced in the area of the Ebro bank and they can be red, white or rosé. The aging of these wines is at least 12 months for reds and 6 for whites and rosés in oak barrels.
  • Tarragona Clásico: Liquor wine with a minimum aging of 2 years in oak barrel.
  • Rancio: At least 4 years of aging between the bottle and oak barrel. Minimum alcohol content of 14%.

DO Terra Alta

Spanish Wine - Terra Alta

Between the Ebro river and the border with Aragón lies DO Terra Alta. Although vines were introduced in this area by the Romans and reinforced in the Middle Ages by the Knight Templar, the distance between the region and the ports and markets was so big that trading wasn't profitable, so many of the vineyards were torn up and replaced by olive groves. In fact, if you ever study Spanish gastronomy, be sure to try the delicious olive oil from Terra Alta. During the 19th century some of the wines from this area attained great fame, but the phylloxera plague of the 19th century destroyed everything. It wasn't until the mid 1900s that the area was replanted. The DO was officially established in 1989.

The climate that affects the vineyards of the DO Terra Alta is a mix of Mediterranean and continental: the summers are very hot and dry and the winters very cold. The dry cierzo wind that blows over this area is responsible for keeping humidity down and diseases at bay. The grape varieties allowed are Garnacha Blanca, Parellada, Macabeo, Moscatel and Chardonnay (white); and Cariñena, Garnacha Tinta, Garnacha Peluda, Morenillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo (red). Their wines have the following alcohol content:

  • Red: Alcohol content between 12% and 15%.
  • White: Alcohol content between 12.5% and 16%.
  • Rosé: Alcohol content between 12% and 16%.
  • Rancios: Minimum alcohol content of 15%.
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