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Linda Hanks describes the fascinating wine region of Catalonia

posted on 24/05/17

Vineyards inhabit rather delightful corners of the world. Even when the orderly, often steeply-terraced vines are dormant, there is an expectation, or promise of what is to come, and when Edward Fairbairn and I visited Catalonia in February, the almond blossom and wild flowers presaged the verdant spring hillsides.

There are industrial-sized bodegues in Catalonia, and we viewed them from afar, while only visiting one; it could be likened to a spaceship which has miraculously landed on top of a cliff of slate. But some wineries are little more than farmhouses or barns with cool, dark cellars, steeped in tradition and pride. Others have added stainless steel and temperature control in modern buildings beside the vines.

Rustic, full-bodied wines have been honed to become refined, full-bodied and long-lived. White wines are perfumed; Cavas are full of yeasty freshness with a steady, fine bead. Pioneers in the evolution of the Priorat still dominate the scene, while the next generation nips at their heels with new takes on old ideas. The Lower Empordà sits on the same soil as the Priorat but has a different climate; Alta Alella lies barely beyond the outskirts of Barcelona.

The Catalans are sometimes described as tancats, or closed, but their enthusiasm and welcome shone warmly on us. The sun did too, and the Mediterranean was a deep blue; then the skies were grey in the Priorat and it poured with rain, but vines welcome water in winter. Our last day there coincided with the end of the shooting season – food is seasonal, local and universally good we decided. February was very beautiful; we trust May 2018 will be even more so.

Classic Catalan Wines runs from 7–12 May 2018 and is a continuation of our new programme of wine tours, which starts this year with The Wines of Bordeaux, 23–29 October 2017 (& 22–28 October 2018), led by Roderick Smith MW. Please contact us to register your interest in our future wine programme.

By Linda Hanks, Operations Manager.

This piece was taken from the 2017 Spring Newsletter.


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