The critic Neal Martin, from eRobertParker.com, recently visited some Catalan vineyards. His first intention was to concentrate on the wines Alella, Conca de Barbera, Costers del Segre, Empordà, Montsant, Penedès, Pla de Bages, Tarragona and Terra Alta, without receiving any influence from Cava or Priorat.
He has left the following impressions on this trip:
The most exciting region has been the Montsant, where wine is made with its own distinctive style. The reds are lighter, fresh, floral and sometimes female. “If Priorat is Pauillac then Montsant is Margaux”. The leading producers in this area are: Vinyes Domènech, Cellers Dosterras, Vinyes d’en Gabriel, Orto Vins and Espectacle, feted by Robert Parker himself. These, offer consistent wines that, in rare cases, are rated with less than 85 points.
Another region worth mentioning is Terra Alta, with 6000 hectares of vineyards and 44 wineries. These wines offer an impressive consistency, and a basis upon which to build in the future. Producers in this region are: Laureano Serres, Celler Pinol, and Edetaria, notwithstanding some intriguing white wines from Garnacha Blanc and Macabeu.
The Penedès area, however, provides ups and downs. On the one hand, it has some excellent Xarello white wines, but on the other hand, the reds tend to have too much oak. Actually, the more affordable and basic wines, are the ones that show more character and balance.
Costers del Segre is an area too wide to draw conclusions after this trip, however, the producer Castell d’Encus creates individual, intellectual and fascinating wines that are worth mentioning.
It would be interesting to monitor these areas over the next 20 years to see how these wineries and their wines evolve.
Finally, Neil Martin concludes his impressions encouraging us all in the pursuit of these lesser-known regions that, on the other hand, have much to offer.