Barcelona & Catalonia
Barcelona, the capital of the Catalonia region, has long been a cosmopolitan and forward-thinking city. Sophisticated yet relaxed this Mediterranean city has a love of art, design and architecture as well as great food. Barcelona is the ideal place for food and wine tours given that the cuisine stands among the top regional fares in Spain.
The Mediterranean and inland Catalonian bounty and centuries of culinary development make Barcelona a food paradise amidst medieval streetscapes. Not known to rest on tradition, Barcelona and the region of Catalonia tend towards cultural innovation while remaining loyalto local Catalan products.
There are no lack of places outside of Barcelona worth exploring: Montserrat Sanctuary comprised of the Basilica and the Monastery; the Priorat and Montsant wine regions; the coastal towns replete with fresh seafood including the Palamos shrimp on the Costa Brava and oysters and mussels from the Delta del Ebro; Tarragona with its Roman ruins and Serrallo district seafood restaurants; the pristine Emporda wine region; the beautiful Costa Brava where the Dali Museum and Dali museum-house are located; the city of Girona where you’ll find El Celler de Can Roca restaurant (3 Michelin stars); and less-discovered wine regions such as Terra Alta, known for White Grenache wines, Conca de Barbera and Alella.
Wine in Catalonia
The Catalonian wine regions outside of Barcelona include the Penedès making world-class cavas, the Priorat and Montsant regions producing powerful Garnacha (Grenache) red wines, the Terra Alta whose stars are elegant whites, and the Emporda region, which includes the Costa Brava, where there are a number of innovative family-owned wineries.
The Priorat wine region, one of only two wine regions in Spain (along with Rioja) to qualify as DOCa, the highest qualification level, is known for its powerful red wines and, increasingly, white wines made from Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Pedro Ximénez and indigenous grape varieties. The rocky slate soil, steep vineyard inclines, and varying amounts of sunlight depending on each vineyard’s
orientation make for challenging work in the vineyards. The cultivation and harvesting work is done by hand at many wineries and yields are therefore low. The prices of Priorat wine reflect those factors. The main grape varieties used are Garnacha and Cariñena for reds and White Garnacha and Macabeo for the whites. Some international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are also allowed.
Vins de Vila in the Priorat
The Priorat wine region presents a varied geographical landscape of terroir, microclimates and villages. Some Priorat wines are now labeled Vins de Vila, or Village Wines, in order to highlight the wines’ provenance and singular characteristics.
Cava in the Penedès
Although Cava can be produced in several parts of Spain, the best and most famous Cava is from the Penedès, a small region between mountains and the Mediterranean about an hour’s drive south of Barcelona. Wineries in the Penedès produce red and white wines within the D.O. Penedès and sparkling wines within D.O. Cava. In order to be Cava, the wine must be produced in the Champagne method. In recent years there has been a growing movement in the region to produce higher quality vintage Cavas, and shed the image of Cava as a low-cost mass-produced wine. High-caliber Cava–on a par with Champagne de Vigneron– can now be found at a handful of bodegas in the region.
The Emporda wine region in Girona province extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the French border and south from there. The wine grape varietes used include White Grenache, Macabeu, Muscat, Muscat d'Alexandria, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Malvasia, Piquepoul, Sauvignon Blanc, and Xarel·lo. The red grape varieties include Carignan, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Mourvèdre, Tempranillo, Syrah, and Hairy Grenache. Most Emporda wines are red; the white Emporda wines are well worth seeking out.
Barcelona & Catalonia Tours
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