Terroir Al Limit
Catalonia is centred on the second-largest city in Spain, Barcelona (north-east Spain). Its vineyards stretch from the hot Mediterranean coast to altitudes where cold is a useful quality factor. Catalonia has been famous for Cava for many years, dating back to the late 1800s when sparkling wine was made by the traditional method in the small town of San Sadurní de Noya, in the Penedès region. Although this is Spain's answer to Champagne and the same method of productionis used, the grape varieties are very different. Macabeo dominates most blends thanks to its neutral flavour and resistance to frost. The other two main grape varieties are Xarel-lo, which offers flavour to the blend, and the finest Cava ingredient Parellada, which adds an appley crispness to the wine. As far as still wines are concerned, Catalonia is the land of the wine pioneer. Much of the credit must go to the late Don Miguel Torres Carbó and his son Miguel A. Torres, who were the first to import international vine varieties to plant alongside the indigenous varieties, chiefly Garnacha, Monastrel and Tempranillo. The leading DO is Penedès in terms of quantity and produces wines with frank, direct flavours although other regions, such as Priorat, have made great advances in quality. Catalonia is also a centre for cork production.