Whilst most people in the UK will have heard of Rioja, Cava and perhaps Rias Baixas, not so many are aware that there’s a whole world more of Spanish regions to discover. Catalonia has a highly developed wine tradition with over 2,500 years of history (wines were imported into Britain from Tarragona before the Romans arrived) There are dozens of native grape varieties, from xarel·lo and parellada to trepat and sumoll. There are currently 11 Denominacions d’Origen (D.O.) producing an astonishing array of still and sparkling wines, exported all over the world, as far afield as Japan and the US as well as to the UK. In fact Catalonia exports more wine than any other Spanish region.
Catalonia is nothing if not dynamic in wine making terms, too, with constant innovation in winemaking styles and techniques. From international giants like Torres to the smallest family winery, it’s hard to keep up with the developments; bringing back long-lost varieties and styles of wine, working to make vineyards and wine-making more sustainable or preparing for the challenges caused by climate change.
So whether your thing is red, pink, white, orange or sparkling... there’s a lot to try.
ABOUT THE WINERIES WE WORK WITH
We currently work with ten small to tiny wineries from four of Catalonia’s D.O. They’re all family farms which make wine from their own grapes and in many cases also produce other crops such as olives, fruit and vegetables. Many of the families have been farming in the same spot for hundreds of years and are proud to be keeping up or returning to their traditions. In many cases the younger members of the families have studied oenology at uni and come back intrigued by the possibilities in those gnarly old vines that grandma planted and no-one had given much thought to for thirty years…
We are proud to be working with:
Eudald Massana Noya
Clos dels Guarans
ORGANIC, BIODYNAMIC, NATURAL
In the Mediterranean wine has been a staple of the diet along with bread and olive oil since the earliest times: “Lo vi fa sang” * So it seems logical to care as much about where the wine we drink comes from and how it’s made, as we do about any other food. However, as there are no labelling laws for wine it’s very hard to work out what has happened to the juice in your glass or the grapes in the field.
Organic wine gives the guarantee that the wine has been produced sustainably, without artificial pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. Biodynamic agriculture, predating the organic movement, goes a step further and has a holistic view of the life of the vine as part of a diversified farm ecosystem, taking into account not only vine and soil health but also cosmic influences on the whole. Unusual as this might seem, many of the most prized French wines and champagnes are also produced biodynamically. In Catalonia, some growers adhere to classic biodynamic priciples as laid out by Dr Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. Others incorporate biodynamic practices on the basis that these are just the traditional farming customs of the Catalan countryside.
Whilst organic wine and biodynamic wine have regulatory bodies, there is no one definition for “natural wine”. Broadly speaking it means wines made with as little intervention as possible. Grapes come with their own built in yeasts, growing naturally on the skins, so natural wines are pressed and then “spontaneously” ferment, rather than having the native yeasts removed and fermentation started with a commercial yeast strain. After this as little as possible is done to manipulate the finished wine. So there are no additives, no filtering, no fining and minimal or no added sulphites. The end results are beautiful wines with incredible purity and complexity of flavours, honestly reflecting the little patch of ground in which they were grown. And they’re living things, more akin to a probiotic yogurt than the sterile, flat-tasting products which pass for “wine” in most supermarkets.
*literally “the wine makes blood”, figuratively, wine builds you up and gives strength