The Catalonia Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) is located in the northeastern corner of Spain where the Catalonian pride and fiercely independent streak have been a benchmark of its culture for hundreds of years. Catalonia is responsible for 25% of the total wine volume of Spain, with half of that local production in the form of Cava, Spain’s most famous sparkling wine. Catalonia suffered greatly over the years through bouts with phylloxera, the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), and World War II, and while their wines had always been more quality focused than many of Spain’s interior regions, the Catalonia wine trade didn’t fully recover and join the modern wine marketplace until the 1970s.
Catalonia is a large, diverse region as it overlays 10 existing DOPs within the region, stretching from the Pyrenees in the North, through the Ebro Valley to the west and center, and down to the coast along the east.
DOPs within Catalonia:
Conca de Barberà
Costers del Segre
Pla de Bages
Priorat DOP and Montsant DOP are generally regarded as the two top-producing regions within Catalonia, famous for their concentrated red wines made from a combination of indigenous grapes sourced from ancient vines and recently introduced international varietals. Penedes DOP contains the vineyards that produce much of the Cava from Catalonia, though the wines may be labeled as Cava DOP instead of Penedes DOP.
While most of the climate in Catalonia is considered Mediterranean, there are pockets of continental climate to be found, especially in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The soils are incredibly diverse, again owing to the steep mountain slopes and gentle river valleys that have allowed numerous soil types to be deposited across the region.
While the indigenous white grape varieties used to make Cava (Xarel-lo, Macabeo, and Parellada) are certainly of great importance, Chardonnay has played an increasingly important role of late. The use of red Mediterranean grapes like Garnacha (Grenache) and Monastrell (Mourvedre) is more frequently planted next to or blended with Bordeaux grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.