Above: Vineyards, Llivins Mountain Wines, Llívia, Catalonia, Spain

Beyond Cava: The Remarkable Wines of Catalonia

Vineyards, Llivins Mountain Wines, Llívia, Catalonia

With a rich history that dates back at least to Roman times, Catalan wine boasts an impressive diversity derived from its varied terroirs. Catalonia most famously produces cava (sparkling wine made in the method of Champagne), but the industry extends well beyond bubbles. Vineyard growers take full advantage of the mild Mediterranean coast, the more arid interior and the cooler foothills farther north to produce a wide range of still wines, including Priorat’s bold reds, vibrant whites from Alella and Port-style fortified wines from Tarragona.

Winemakers here rely less on Tempranillo, Spain’s most famous grape, in favor of other indigenous varieties including Garnacha, Carignan and Monastrell. Local white grapes like Xarel-lo can also make still wines with character, as do more recent arrivals such as Chardonnay and even Riesling. The best bottles highlight an intense minerality derived from the chalk, slate and/or granite soils. The warm hospitality of the winemakers we met in the region greatly enhanced our tasting experiences.

A bottle of Domus Aquilae, produced at Terra Dominicata Hotel & Winery
Workers in the vineyards of Terra Dominicata Hotel & Winery

One morning, we stopped for a quick breakfast in Castelldefels, an unassuming town 30 minutes southwest of Barcelona, and stumbled upon its yearly wine festival, Mars de Vinos. We were delighted to meet regional winemakers who expressed obvious pride in the Catalan region. We especially enjoyed Puig-Batet’s hearty and bold Carignan that unfolded on the palate with a luscious bramble of dark fruits. Small towns throughout Catalan’s countryside regularly host festivals, but they are rarely advertised. Ask your concierge for recommendations.

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Above: Vineyards, Llivins Mountain Wines, Llívia, Catalonia, Spain

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