Top 12 Catalan Wines For The Festive Season

Most wine enthusiasts are familiar with the Spanish wine regions of Rioja and Ribera del Duero, but what about the lesser known Catalan regions of Montsant, Terra Alta and Alella? A triangular corner of northeastern Spain, wedged between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean Sea, Catalonia is perhaps most famous for its magnificent capital city, Barcelona. It is also home to no fewer than 12 official wine regions or “Denominaciones de Origen” (D.O.s), including official home of Cava, Penedès, and Priorat, the third most-awarded red wine region in Spain and one of only two to qualify for highest accreditation level, “Denominacion de Origen Qualificada” (D.O.Q.).

Catalonia has 12 wine regions. This year, why not spend the 12 days of Christmas getting to know them all, one bottle at a time?

D.O. Empordà

Castillo Perelada 5 Finques 

Located in northeastern Catalonia, just south of the French border, the Empordà region is packed with stunning scenery, excellent gastronomy, rich history and natural diversity. It also produces excellent wine, such as the Perelada 5 Finques Reserva 2016, awarded the Grand Gold Medal this year by the prestigious Mundus Vini competition. This well-structured red wine has a deep cherry color, aromas of red fruit and spices, and balsamic notes with smoky hints of toast.

D.O. Alella

Alt Alella MIRGIN

Situated just 30 minutes north of Barcelona, the Alella region produces some very exciting varieties of white and sparkling wine, noted for their saline minerality. Alta Alella is an organic winery that overlooks the glittering blue seas of the Mediterranean. Its Alta Alella MIRGIN is a light, fresh sparkling wine with aromas of white fruit, notes of pastry, well-integrated bubbles and a delicate aftertaste.

D.O. Pla de Bages

Abadal 3.9 Vi de Finca  

One of the smallest wine regions in Spain, covering less than 500 hectares, Pla de Bages is located inland from Barcelona in a unique terroir where oak and pine-tree forests surround scattered plots of vines. The limestone soil and red clay terraces of the Abadal vineyard lie snugly within the forest, producing the elegant Abadal 3.9, with its fruity identity enhanced by balsamic aromas and mineral presence.

D.O. Conca de Barberà

Cara Nord

Sheltered from the sea by the mountains, Conca de Barberà is located in southern Catalonia, between Tarragona and Lérida. The landscape is dramatic and hilly, with high peaks, deep forests and isolated vineyards. Unlike most Catalan wine regions, this one is best known for its white wines. Like the vibrant Cara Nord Blanc, with its floral undertones of white fruit, green plums and acidic grapefruit, and exotic aromas.

D.O. Costers del Segre

Castell d’Encus Quest 

Costers del Segre is made up of seven small regions situated between the River Segre and the Pyrenees. Set at more than 3,200 feet above sea level, Castell d’Encus winery is famed for its stone fermentation vats originally used by the Hospitaliers monks in the 12th century. One wine that uses this technique is Quest, a complex red with aromas of tobacco, blackberry and spice and an intense, long-lasting aftertaste.

D.O. Tarragona

125 Celler Sanromà

The historic Roman city of Tarragona has given its name to a wine region divided into two sections. The larger stretches along the Mediterranean coast, while a small portion lies further inland toward the border with the province of Lérida. 125 is an award-winning 100% Tempranillo red with an intense, clean and bright ruby color that is fruity and creamy on the palate, with a long, pleasant finish.

D.O. Terra Alta

El Mas Edetària Selecció

Terra Alta (Catalan for high ground) is an underrated wine region in the southern Catalonian inland. Red wine is the name of the game here, and many of the local vintages are rather excellent. Like El Mas Edetària Selecció by the Edetària winery, that makes organic Grenache-based wines in a stunning natural setting. Deep red, complex and elegant, El Mas Edetària Selecció is the cream of the crop. 

D.O. Montsant 

Acústic Braó

Enjoying a breathtaking setting in the Montsant mountain range, this region produces award-winning red wines that can only be rivaled by those from neighboring Priorat. Acústic winery’s Braó Origin is made from 60- to 80-year-old vines located at altitudes of 1,000 to 2,300 feet. This elegant red is a combination of 15% fragrant, fruity and complex Grenache grapes, and 85% Carignan, with their deep color, body and ripe red fruit flavors.

D.O. Catalunya

Marco Abella Clos Abella

D.O. Catalunya is one of the newest Catalan denominations, incorporating the vast majority of Catalan wine producers. D.O. Catalunya allows more wine-producing municipalities that could not have been assigned to another region to be protected by the D.O. seal of quality. Clos Abella is an exquisitely elegant red wine with wild, striking characteristics on the palate, abundant silky tannins and a long, fresh finish.

D.O. Cava

Vilarnau Cava Brut

Cava can refer to any sparkling wine from Spain, but the true heartland of Cava, and the official home of D.O. Cava, is in the Penedès region just outside Barcelona. Vilarnau is a small, organic winery, delightfully situated between the Montserrat mountains and the Mediterranean. Its fun, effervescent Vilarnau Cava Brut delivers flavors of crisp apple and ripe pear and an abundance of fine bubbles.

D.O.Q. Priorat

Clos Mogador

Priorat is one of the world’s oldest wine-growing regions, named after the 12th-century “Priory”, or the first Carthusian monastery built in Spain. Today, it is best known for producing some of the finest reds money can buy. One of these is the award-winning Clos Mogador, by the legendary René Barbier. This deep, concentrated and powerful wine, with its balanced nose and aromas of red fruit was the first wine in Spain to receive the prestigious “Vi de Finca” qualification.

DO Penedès

Jean Leon 3055 Rosé

Jean Leon was a poor Spanish émigré, turned New York cab driver, turned restaurateur and friend to the Hollywood glitterati of the 1950s. In 1962, he returned to Spain to set up his winery. Jean Leon has produced many award-winning vintages over the years but none as fresh and fruity as the Jean Leon 3055 Rosé, with its distinctive pale pink color and intense nose with raspberry and peach flavors.

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