When we refer to the DO Costers del Segre we think of wines with a continental character, which in some respects is true, but extensive replantation of international grape varieties means that the majority of wines produced here lack a geographical or territorial trademark, even though the vast majority of the wines are technologically perfect. However, there are currently wineries such as Mas Blanch i Jové, Costers del Sio, L’Olivera, Lagravera and Thomas Cusiné, among others, who concentrate their effors on producing wines with what are considered varieties native to the region. However, the majority of this region is still dominated by classic international varieties.
The production of wine in the region dates back to the time of the Iberians, with the Romans carrying on this tradition. Viticulture then peaked in the nineteenth century, when the region was home to over 120.000 hectares of vineyards. Unfortunately, the arrival of phylloxera drastically reduced their crop. Many traditional winegrowing areas were not replanted; they were given over to olives instead. Traditional varieties such as gave way to more popular grapes, both local and international. This meant that the region practically lost some ancient varieties, such as Garrut, Morastrell, Manto and Terret Negra. In fact, it was not until the mid-twentieth century that the region saw a revival. Wineries such as Raimat and Castell del Remei championed innovation and expansion of the region, as well as cultivating grapes and making wines to the highest quality. It was the dedication of these wineries that resulted the Costers del Segre becoming officially recognised as a designation of origin in 1986.
DO Costers del Segre is situated in the northeast of Spain, dispersed across the autonomous community of Catalonia. Back In 1988, the region was originally composed of four separate subzones: Artesa, Valls de Riucorb, Garrigues and Raïmat, with two more added in 1998, Pallars Jussà, and Segrià. These sub-zones lie in the foothills of the Catalan pre-coastal mountain range, east of the city of Lleida and just south of the foothills of the Pyrenees. The region is currently home to 600 growers, who cultivate 5,000 hectares of vineyards between them, with a total of almost 40 registered wineries.
It has to be said that Raimat is at the helm of viticulture in the region and is essentially responsible for putting Costers del Segre on the world map. It is also worth mentioning the progress and improvement that the winery has made in recent years in terms of the cultivation of their vines and wines, so good infact that the winery was awarded a certificate of organic viticulture by the CCPAE (Consejo Catalán de la Producción Agraria Ecológica).
Wines from this region are generally technically perfect, balanced, and continental within the range of other Catalan DOs. However, there have been a number of initiatives of young people and other business visionaries, along with important wineries such as Torres, have been committed to give the area a sense of history through stronger links to native varieties and terroirs.
Climate, Soil and Varieties.
The region is home to a continental climate, influenced by the proximity of the Pyrenees. It's semi-arid, with a climate of extremes. Not only is there a marked difference in summer and winter temperatures (ranging from -5 to 35), but also a difference in temperature between day and night. Even though the vineyards are dispersed geographically, the terrain across the region is quite smooth, with dark limestone soils, with a high limestone content, a low clay content and poor in organic matter. Average rainfall is around 450 mm though 300 mm is common in the west although drought, hailstones and spring frosts are occasional risks for the vineyards.
The subzones Artesa de Segre and Pallars are the most northerly subzones, where the vines growing at the higher altitudes and strongly influenced by the Pyrenees. Raimat, in the east, has a gentle relief and a continental climate. The subzone of Segrià, located in the Lleida plain, is characterised by its dry lands. Garrigues and the Valls del Riucorb are home to arid lands, low in organic matter.
The white varieties authorised by the DO Costers del Segre are Macabeu, Xarello, Parellada, Chardonnay, Grenache, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscatel de Alejandra, Malvasía, Gewurztraminer and Albariño. In regards to red varieties, the region is home to red Grenache, Tempranillo (Ull de llebre), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Monastrell/Morastrell, Trepat, Cariñena/Samsó, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
DO Costers del Segre wines and wineries
DO Costers del Segre wines make a vast catalogue of wines, from white, rosé, all styles of reds, sparkling wines and even Cava.
Without a doubt the most important winery in the region is Raimat. The farm and the new winery opened in 1988 and is located about 14km west of Lleida. The winery is now home to over 2,250 hectares of vineyards, applying modern Californian techniques and growing many different varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Malvasia, Pinot Noir, Russian Muscatel, Merlot, Petit Shiraz, Muscat of Alexandria, Albariño, among others. Current the winery produces their wide variety of wines under 5 large families: Castell de Raimat, Raimat Espumosos y Cava, Raimat Clamor, Raimat Abadía and Raimat Terra, all produced with an outstanding level of technical quality.
Costers del Sió is a family run winery. Founded in 2006, the winery is now home to 70 hectares of vineyards, and produces many wines such as Alto Siós, a blend of Syrah and Tempranillo that is aged for 14 months in the barrel, and the Vina del Siós family, with white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, a rosé blend of Syrah and Grenache, and a medium aged red.
Castell d’Encus. Founded by Raúl Bobet in 2001 on an estate with vineyards located around 850-1000m above sea level. The winery cultivates many varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Semillon and Albariño. Their products include white wines such as Taleia (Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon), Ekam (Riesling, Albariño), as well as reds like Thalarn (Syrah), Acusp (Pinot Noir), Quest (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot).
Castell de Remei. Located in La Noguera, this estate date all the way back to 1780, with documents evening proving that this was home to the first vineyards to grow Cabernet Sauvignon in Spain. It is currently home to 140 of vineyards, growing Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Grenache, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Macabeo and Pinot Noir. The quality of its wines has been proven by the numerous awards won on a national and international level. Different blends and ageing, their wines incluse Castell of Remei 1780, Oda, Gotim Bru, Oda Blanc and Blanc Gotim.
Celler Cercavins. Founded in 2003 in Verdú, this winery was the result of three partners devoted to the cultivation of vines. Among their products includes, Bru de Verdú 14, a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Merlot, aged for 14 months; Egom, made exclusively with Merlot grapes, aged for 10 months; Guilla blanco, made with Macabeo grapes plus a small hint of Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo, fermented in the barrel and aged for 5 months; and Guillamina, a young white from a blend of Verdejo, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer.
Tomás Cusiné began his career in wine at the Castell del Remei. Today he is based in El Vilosell, where over 30 hectares of vineyards he cultivates a vast range of different grape varieties, mainly foreign, to produce both single variety wines to blended wines. His products include Finca Racons, a Macabeo from old vines; Finca la Serra, a Chardonnay; and Finca Comabarra, a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Aside from this white wines, he is also known for his reds, such as Llebre, Vilosell and Geol, with the latter winning Gold in the Sommelier Wine Awards 2015.
Cérvoles, in the town of La Pobla de Cérvoles (Les Garrigues). This winery is situated at an altitude of 750 metres and is separated from Priorat by the Sierra de Llena. The winery is home to 35 hectares of vineyards spread over 10 different plots, growing various varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Merlot, Garnacha, Chardonnay y Macabeo, with which they produce their collection of wines Colors y Cévoles. They also produce the red wine Preimum Cévoles Estrats, which is a blend of 4 different grape varities: Cabernet Sauvignon (42%), Tempranillo (36%), Grenache (17%) and Merlot (5%), and is aged for 18 months in French oak barrels.
Clos Pons is situated in Les Garrigues, south of the province of Lleida. This winery produces a vast collection of wines. Their products include: Roc de Foc, a Macabeo that is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels; Jan Petit, a red wine from a blend of Grenache and Syrah grapes taken from old vines from the mountain south of Les Garrigues; Roc Un made with the Tempranillo, Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon; and Clos Pons 810, a limited edition red, with long aging in new French oak barrels of 300 l.
L’Olivera is a small social cooperative, founded in 1974, thatincorporates people with difficulties and disabilities, involving them in all aspects of the production process. The winery was did not open until 1989, but it now produces a large collection of wines, from white, to red, sparkling and sweet, using both indigenous and international varieties. Their products include Blanc de Serè, Agaliu, Missenyora, Blanc de Marges, Eixaders, Vipansit, Vimadur, Blanc Roure, Primers Vins Vallisbona 89, and their sparkling wine L'Olivera Brut Nature Gran Reserva.
Bodegas Torres is also located in the Costers del Segre since it acquired the historica L’Aranyó estate in 1999. It is located in Les Borges Blanques in the heart of the Les Garrigues region, where they began planting the vineyard, while preserving the ancient olive trees from which they draw olive oil. The winery is home to 175 hectares of vineyards, grown across slopes and the valleys, reaching 450 metres above sea level at its highest point. This winery here only produces one wine, Purgatori, a blend of Grenache, Cariñena and Syrah, aged for 15 to 18 months in French oak barrels.
Lagravera is one of the last wineries to join the region, located between the south slope of the Sierra Llarga and the Noguera Ribagorçana River, where 11 hectares of vineyards are cultivated on gravel soils. The winery grows not only traditional varieties such as white and red Grenache, but also international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The winery is certified by the CCPAE which certifies that they do indeed carried out organic farming, they have also recently been awarded the “Certificado Demeter International de Biodinámica”
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