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Description to Catalunya

The autonomous region (Cataluña, Catalunya) with its capital Barcelona is located in the north-east of Spain on the north-western edge of the Mediterranean. It covers 32,091 km² and is divided into the four provinces of Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona. To the north, separated by the Pyrenees, Catalonia borders France and the dwarf state of Andorra, to the west Aragon and to the south-west Valenciana. The Balearic Islands, 200 kilometres off the coast, with the main island of Majorca, have much in common in terms of history and viticulture. Catalonia is officially bilingual; Catalan is also spoken in French Roussillon and on the Balearic Islands.

History

The region has had an extremely chequered history. The Greeks arrived in the 6th century BC, followed by the Carthaginians and finally the Romans in 200 BC. The Roman Caesars already drank the wines from the DO area of Alella. Barcelona was already an important trading port in ancient times. In the 6th century AD, the Alans and Visigoths arrived, from whom the name derives (Gotalonia = land of the Goths). The Moors then conquered the area in the 8th century. They were expelled by Emperor Charlemagne (742-814), who incorporated the region into his empire.

At the end of the 9th century, the Spanish Margraviate of the Frankish Empire gained de facto independence under the Counts of Barcelona. In the 12th century, Aragon and Catalonia were united to form a separate kingdom of Aragon. Finally, independence was lost and in 1479 the kingdom was merged with Castile (regions of Castile-La Mancha and Castile-León) to form the Spanish Empire.

The triumph of cava began here in the 1870s, when Josép Raventós produced the first Spanish sparkling wine using the champagne method at his Codorníu winery in Penedès. The Torres and Celler Perelada wineries set further standards. These three founded modern viticulture in Spain. Traditional Catalan wines are rancios and digested sweet wines. Catalonia plays an important role in cork production.

Climate & soils

The interior of the country has a continental to pre-alpine climate with harsh, snowy winters and mild summers. The soil here is brown, calcareous clay. The coastal region, which is sometimes very mountainous and has a Mediterranean climate, is strongly influenced by the nearby Mediterranean. The winters here are rainy and the summers hot. The barren, nutrient-poor soils on the steep slopes consist of bare rock made of weathered volcanic rock, slate and quartz.

Vineyards & grape varieties

The vineyards cover 52,000 hectares of vines. The most important red wine varieties are Garnacha Tinta, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Trepat, Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cariñena (Mazuelo). The most important white wine varieties are Viura (Macabeo), Parellada, Garnacha Blanca, Pansa Blanca (Xarello), Chenin Blanc, Moscatel (Muscat Blanc) and Chardonnay.

Wine-growing regions

There are eleven DO areas and, with Priorato, a DOCa area (quality wines), but no Vino de Pago (quality wine) and IGP areas (regional wines). Cava may also be produced here.

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