Wine is rooted in Catalonia’s tradition and nowadays represents a rising sector, which is gaining international prestige year after year. Wines from Priorat, Penedès and Empordà are among the best in the world, and Cava is no longer a cheap replacement of Champaign but a quality product in its own right available all over the world. More than 200 million bottles of Cava certify this success, joined by 180 million for of wine.
Which are Catalonia’s protected wine appellations (DO)?
There are 11 Protected Geographical Status (DO) for red, white and rosé wines and an extra one for Cava. The 11 wine ones are:
DO Alella: Though the smallest, it is one of the oldest and most unique. It covers a small piece of land between the Mediterranean shore and the coastal mountains, north of Barcelona. It produces quality wines and is famous for its white wines, in which some are considered one of the best in the world.
DO Catalunya: It is a DO that fosters experimentation, as wines can be produced with a great variety of grapes in a wide range of soils. This DO has been growing significantly in the last few years, exporting more than 40 million bottles to more than 100 countries.
DO Conca de Barberà: It corresponds to a Catalan county with a very old wine tradition, coming from Medieval monasteries in the zone. Since the creation of this DO in 1989, there has been a continuous effort to modernise the cellars and the vineyards. The speciality of this DO is top-quality red wine, which is produced together with white and rosé. Most of these wines use a grape type that is autochthonous from the county that is called Trepat.
DO Costers del Segre: It is Lleida’s DO, split into the following sub zones: Artesa, Vall del Riu Corb, les Garrigues, Pallars Jussà, Raimat, and Segrià. It employs advanced technology and is famous for its innovation, changing grape varieties and fostering “Ull de Llebre”, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnatxa, Sirah and Merlot.
DO Empordà: This DO is seeing new cellars booming in the Northern coast of Catalonia. New and old cellars are easily adapting themselves to new technology trends, changing harvest patterns and restructuring vineyards.
DO Montsant: It is the youngest Catalan DO, located in the southern part of Catalonia. Despite this fact, it has achieved a good market positioning. This DO includes the sub zones of South Priorat and some zones in Ribera d’Ebre. The soil has a high percentage of mineral salts, which is one of the main characteristics of this region. The cellars are young and modern, producing a small quantity of wine but of a great quality.
DO Penedès: This is probably the most famous wine region within Catalonia. It has powerful cellars, always improving their technology and innovating. It has traditionally been associated with white wines, but in the last years it has also started to produce top quality red wines, which have been internationally recognised.
DO Pla de Bages: It is a small DO but that produces quality wines. In the last years, wine producers from this DO have put effort recuperating an autochthonous type of grape: the “picapoll”, which is very small and can be either red or white.
DO Priorat: In the last 10 years, this DO has lived through a revolution, being recognised worldwide and seeing some of its red wines reaching the highest prices in specialised shops all over the world. The DO has new cellars, young entrepreneurs and experts who all work to maintain this DO among the best of the world. Their wines have a unique strong taste, full of peculiarities.
DO Tarragona: It is the oldest Catalan DO, producing liquor wines of great quality, such as Tarragona Clàssic. In the last years, red-wines have joined their traditional white and rosé wines.
DO Terra Alta: Many of the cellars from this DO work as a cooperative. Their wines have a singular taste and are reaching great levels of quality in the last years. Their rosé varieties are very fruity, the white have a low acidity and the red have a round body and a dark colour.
Finally, there is one DO that needs to be explained aside, the DO Cava.
DO Cava: This DO is shared with 6 other Autonomous Communities within Spain apart from Catalonia. However, 95% of DO Cava’s production come from Catalonia. More than 200 million bottles are sold each year, a number that grows year by year. Cava is famous all over the world. In the past it was sold as a cheap replacement for Champaign, but in the last years top-quality cava has started to be exported and has become famous for its great quality which is at a much more affordable price than the French Champaign.