Catalonia’s 12 wine DOs
Catalan wine: the 12 DOs you need to know
Did you know that Spain has 96 individually recognized wine regions, and 12 of those are in Cataluña alone? They are called DO’s, Designations of origin. The reason they were created is because each area has a unique flavor and flare to their wines that will set them apart from the rest.
If you’re interested in Catalan wine, keep on reading to get an insight into each of Cataluña’s famous 12 DOs. But it would be even better if you go out to have a taste of their unique charms!
Although they were unknown to the world until the 1990’s. Priorat’s wines have become one of the most respected labels on the global market. This region currently holds the highest classification of DO’s – Designations of origin. It’s no surprise considering the region has been trying to perfect its wine since the 12th century. Priorat is known for being one of the warmest and driest wine regions in Spain with some of the richest flavors there it’s in red wines. Often you will experience notes of licorice, cognac fruit, or chocolate. The well-drained soil of the arid region is also responsible for the success of the production of the best Garnacha and Cariñena grapes, which are typically aged in oak barrels.
Penedès is known for its variety: in this region you can find dry, sweet, and sparkling wines in all three colors. This diversity is possible thanks to the unique location of the hills on the Mediterranean coast. The different flavors and colors come from the different heights. Lowland vineyards tend to produce fuller reds, while the freshest whites come from the highlands. Plus, we can’t talk about the Penedès without mentioning the famous sparkling varieties Cava and Penedès Espumoso. In this region, sparkling wines are made organically and with age-old methods that have proven successful for over a hundred years. This traditionally made sparkling wine is often labeled “Corpinnat”, which is a combination of Latin and Catalan meaning “from the heart of the Penedès”.
Empordà, home of the famous Salvador Dalí, is the region where the vast Pyrenees meet the beautiful Mediterranean. The typical warm climate of Cataluña receives a breath of fresh mountain air, also known as the Tramontana winds, and in the rugged terrain only the best grapes can take root. Like Penedès, the combination of higher elevations leading down to sea level means that a variety of wines can be made here. Wineries from traditional family farmhouse style, to sleek modern venues, to incredible ancient buildings that have been repurposed. Empordà truly has something for everyone.
Costers del Segre
This wine region on the “banks of the River Segre”, located near Lleida, is the most inland of Catalonia. The dry climate has harsher winters and summers, giving the grapes a higher concentration of bold aromas. A wide variety of these stronger grapes can be grown here, both red and white grapes. Also, this region is known for their production of some of the famous sparkling cava wines.
Pla de Bages
Pla de Bages has been the home to wine cultivators since the Middle Ages, you can still see the antique stone vats and buildings that were used to make it scattered throughout the region. Many of the vineyards in this region have been run by the same families for generations, resulting in the utmost care and attention to their grapes and the unique and delicate flavors to match.
Alella is one of the smallest DO’s in Spain, but don’t let its size fool you. This region has been perfecting its wines since ancient Roman times. The wine of Alella was even recognized and served to the Royal Court of Aragon during the Middle Ages. Today, the talented winemakers of Alella are focused on quality, excellence, and passion for their craft.
Conca de Barbera
This particular wine region is characterized by an indigenous grape variety: Trepat, which is known for being plump, firm and creating a fresh and fruity wine.This delicious grape is most commonly used in rosé, both sparkling and flat, and to produce refreshing red wines with a unique aroma and color.
Montsant is nearly surrounded like the prestigious region of Priorat, so one can imagine the quality and flavors will be similarly prestigious here as well. Like Priorat, this warm region characterized by terraced vineyards is also on the rise on the international market. While whites, rosé, and dessert wines are still produced here, the primary attraction is its high quality reds.
This major DO starts in the beautiful coastal city of Tarragona and spreads land in warts. This area is known for its Roman ruins and Gothic influence that is present all over the city, and of course for its wines with the same rich history. Historically and today, the wine from this region is often used for Christian sacraments and exported all over the world for this purpose. Tarragona has a variety of fine wines to choose from, but in recent years it has perfected its varietal white wines to enjoy in their unique character, or white blends that can be used for sparkling cava wines.
The rolling hills of the Terra Alta wine region make it a scenic location to enjoy the high quality white wines. This wine is made from only the best white Garnacha grapes from Catalonia. This region in the southern tip of Catalonia has a perfect combination of the cooler air from the north and warmer air from the south, which promotes healthy vines. The white wines often have notes of peach, citrus and honey, while the red wines are characterized by hints of red berry aromas.
Sparkling cava wine is Spain’s answer to French champagne, but with a softer and more Mediterranean luxury. It is almost exclusively produced in DO Penedès, but is so highly regarded that it has been given its own DO. Cava refers specifically to sparkling white wines and rosé, but the name actually comes from the cavernous cellars where the wine was historically made. For Cava Reservas, the regulations are very specific and strongly focused on the quality of the taste and careful cultivation. Cava can be found in restaurants all over Catalonia, but for the best taste experience you can bring Penedès into your home travel schedule.
Cataluña is so proud of its wines, all of which have over 2000 years of rich tradition and history behind them. A specific DO has been created for renowned winemakers from nearly 200 Catalan municipalities that fall outside the other designated regions. As one can imagine, these wines come in a wide variety and are characterized by traditional cultivation methods. Many of the wines with this designation come from beautiful monasteries such as Montserrat, where they have been crafted and perfected since the Middle Ages. The best way to enjoy DO Cataluña wines is to visit the cellars where they were first made for a unique and personal wine tasting experience.
If you’re passionate about Catalan wine and would like to learn more about (and taste!) some of these DOs, check out our Wine Tours and Day Trips, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like a personalized wine experience just for you , family and friends!