Catalan vineyard Partida Creus Catalan vineyard Partida Creus

The top Barcelona wine tasting & winery tours

It's not all about the Rioja! Catalan wines stretch beyond the traditional Cava and are finally getting the international recognition they deserve.

Wine-making in Cataluña has undergone major changes in recent years, with much production now undertaken naturally, with no yeast or sugars added. Prominent exponents of this style of viticulture are Massimo Marchiori and Antonella Gerosa, an Italian couple behind Partida Creus, a small artisanal winery touching the border of Bonastre, a quaint village in Baix Penedès, a draw for wine and food buffs alike. Their limited production of wines results exclusively from grapes which have been organically cultivated. Partida Creus Garrut 2010 (100% Garrut) is described as unique, a dark cherry colour and is definitely one for those who favour a strong aroma of black fruits.

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Restaurant BarcelonaMilano restaurant and wineshop in BarcelonaRestaurant BarcelonaMilano, restaurant and winshop in Barcelona

Penedès, located less than an hour from Barcelona, about 40 miles south-west, is surely one of the most exciting wine regions in Spain. Not forgetting the ubiquitous cava, other classifications are produced here: dry reds and whites and dessert whites. Winemaking in the region, as in the rest of Spain, dates back millennia and the ancient Romans left many vestiges of their production here, some of which you can see in the museum at Vilafranca del Penedès, one of the principal wine villages, along with Sant Sadurni d´Anoia. Described as Spain’s pre-eminent Cabernet-Sauvignon, Torres 2010 Mas La Plana, 40th vintage, can be bought for about €55.

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Priorat, 90 miles south-west of Barcelona, is one of only two wine regions in Spain to qualify as DOCa, the highest qualification level, alongside Rioja. In 1989, a pioneering group of wine-makers joined to produce a single high-quality wine from grapes harvested near Gratallops, reclaiming centuries-old vineyards. The hilly nature of the terrain, stretching over 5,000 acres, now allows for a variety of grapes producing 300 wines, with the most powerful among them (15 percent alcohol) coming from decomposed slate soils known as llicorella.

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In the heart of Cataluña’s wine region is the lesser-known Conca de Barberà. Conca is Catalan for ‘basin,’ and aptly describes the geography here. The basin in question is formed by the combined valleys of the Francolí and Anguera rivers, above which rise various low-lying mountain ranges. The leading white-wine varieties in Conca de Barberà wines are, perhaps unsurprisingly, those used in Cava production: Macabeo and Parellada, and more recently Chardonnay. It was the local white wines which originally established Conca de Barberà’s reputation but it is now the red wines which are the most highly praised. Garnacha, Mazuelo (Carignan), Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo). Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the most successful red-wine varieties. The most idiosyncratic variety is unquestionably Trepat – a variety grown only in this part of Spain. It is used to make light, rosé wines, sparkling Cava Rosado and still Conca de Barberà Rosado.

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