A triangular chunk of land in the northeastern corner of Spain, wedged in between the Pyrenees Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, the Catalonia wine region has a rich winemaking heritage of its own. Just like its fiercely independent and passionate people, who claim to have little in common with their Castillian, Galician, Andalucian and Basque countrymen, Catalan wines stand out as quite different from their Spanish counterparts in terms of grape variety, terroir and winemaking style.
Here, a sunny Mediterranean climate dominates, and Mediterranean grapes like Garnacha (Garnatxa) and Carinena (Samso) replace Tempranillo as flagships. The prestigious wineries of Priorat (one of only two Denominación de Origen Calificada or DOCa appellations in Spain) and the surrounding appellation of Montsant are best known for these grape varieties, sometimes blended with international grapes to produce full-bodied red wines with rich brambly red and black fruit aromas, rounded out by an intense minerality. Pair them with rustic dishes like roasted vegetables or a rich lentil stew seasoned with smoked pork.
The Penedes DO appellation is known for its easy-drinking dry whites made with traditional varieties like Xarel·lo, Macabeu, Parellada and Forcada as well as international grapes. These are refreshing, fruity and floral wines that will pair beautifully with seafood and rice dishes, like a seafood paella or arros amb bacalla (Catalan rice and cod). Penedès is also the historic birthplace of Cava, the flagship sparkling wine of the Iberian Peninsula. Produced with the traditional ("champenois") method but from local Catalan grape varieties, Cava reveals rich aromas of bruised apple and citrus, roasted almonds, honey and toast, as well as distinctive earthy nuances. Pair them with pretty much anything, but we think the perfect food pairing will be classic tapas like croquetas de jamon, patatas bravas and pimientos de Padron.