For many Catalan winemakers, the DO Catalunya is one of their best weapons for marketing their wines to the international market, since the image of their wine is significantly enhanced by a ‘Denominación de Origen’, which can certify a wines origin and quality. One of the initial positive effects is the fact that great wines are associated with a larger geographic area within the peninsula, in the same way as the Bordeaux region in France. For many producers, the DO Catalunya is a clear sign of the regions commitment towards a model of quality. This is especially beneficial for Catalan wines that previously did not come under another ‘Denominación de Origen’.
After early drafts and proposals, the DO Catalunya was officially launched in 2001, but not without controversy and discord. Some believed that the new DO Catalunya would favour the interests of larger wineries, while other DO´s within the region expressed concern in regards to their reputation of quality being tarnished. However, there were others who were very much in favour of the new DO Catalunya, believing that it would help provide support and give recognition to over 200 wineries that produced quality wine but which were not included in other specific DO’s in Catalonia.
Regardless of the controversy surrounding the new DO, which still even today bothers some of the more traditional regions, the numbers speak for themselves. Just three years after the DO Catalunya was approved in 1999, the region was home to 91 registered wineries, which in 2001 sold nearly 30 million bottles, more than 50% of which went to international markets. Even today the success of the DO Catalunya cannot be questioned, even unimaginable to those who were its detractors. The latest figures show that now there are over than 9,000 registered wine growers, more than 210 wineries between processors and bottlers, and an annual a production of more than 65 million bottles.
The Vins DO Catalunya was approved by the Spanish government in March 2001, and encompasses wines and wineries from more than 300 Catalan municipalities. It is as rigid as any other of the DO's, and requires the registration of the vineyards and regulation of the wineries. The wines are made with permitted grape varieties, with regulated production that meets the minimum aging time. This figure of generic quality in the DO Catalunya covers the entire autonomous territory of Catalonia and allows the coexistence of other DO frameworks. In other words, a wine made by a winery in the DO Empordà, but made with grapes from Tarragona, Penedès, Bages, or any other area in Catalonia, can still come under the DO Catalunya, as long as it meets the required standards.
The DO Catalunya also is able to compete with New World wines in the same price bracket, but also offers the consumer wines that have a level of quality guaranteed by the regulated designations of origin. In fact, many producers of New World countries fight hard for the very concept of the Demoninación de Origin with little success. However, their wines are increasingly including precise geographical indications, seeking to emanate the DO´s of Europe.
In total, the DO Catalunya has approved 35 varieties of grapes for their wines. White grapes: Albariño, Chardonnay, Chenin, Garnacha Blanca,Gewürztraminer, Macabeu, Malvasía, Malvasía de Sitges, Moscatel de Alexandria y de Frontignan, Parellada, Pedro Ximénez, Picapoll Blanco, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Sumoll Blanc, Xarel·lo,Viognier and Vinyater. Red grapes : Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tinta, Garnacha Peluda,Garnacha Roja (Garnacha Gris), Garnacha Tintorera, Merlot, Monastrell, Petit Verdot, Picapoll Negro, Pinot Noir, Samsó (cariñena), Sumoll, Syrah, Trepat and Tempranillo (Ull de Llebre).
DO Catalunya wines and wineries
It is clear that current regulations of DO´s are considered by some vintners as too restricted and corseted. For this reason, there has been a surge in high quality wines that have been made under the DO Catalunya, which has slightly more relaxed regulations, allowing the winemakers more freedom. This is also to accommodate for all the different regions that come under it. The DO Catalunya has also managed to reinforce the uniqueness of the other 10 DO´s in Catalonia, as well as serving redeem those wines that, for various reasons, were not able to join another DO.
DO Catalunya has received bad press among some wineries and consumers, due to the fact that they simply do not understand the need to officially recognise the region. However, many have not even wanted to find out why the region is necessary, and are therefore unjust in their contempt. It is true that the DO Catalunya accommodates for large scale production. In some cases, wines from DO Catalunya are mediocre and economically priced, but they all meet the required standards set for them. It would be absurd to believe that anybody wants to create thousands of bottles of bad wine, it just doesn’t make any sense! Therefore, it is necessary that those who still have this perception must try the DO Catalunya winesbefore making claims that have not real basis. You don´t always have to drink exceptional wines that capture the soul and essence of the terroir. It is interesting to try a lot and learn more about the wines of DO Catalunya to get rid of the prejudices that tend to retain as untouchables concepts.
Bodegas Torres, who also makes wines in Catalan DO's Conca de Barbera, Costers del Segre, Penedès and Priorat, is also the winery that produces and markets the most extensive wine range under DO Catalunya: Habitat tinto y blanco, Gran Sangre de Toro, Coronas, Mas Rabell Alquimia, Sangre de Toro, De Casta Rosado, Viña Esmeralda, Viña Sol y San Valentín.
Ca N'Estruc produces all its wines under the DO Catalunya because it is situated outside the boundaries of any other established denomination of origin.
Clos d’Agon is actually part of the DO Empordà. However, their best wines, the Close d’Agon, is made using foreign varieties and some not regulated by the DO Empordà. It`s because of this that the winery comes under the DO Catalunya. The winery recently released a collection of wines under the Amic labels, which is made up of grapes that all come under the DO Empordà.
Codorníu comes under this DO with its Anna Viñas collection, made with a selection of Chardonnay grapes from various plots outside the DO Penedès. This means that is too comes under the DO Catalunya.
Puiggrós is located in the municipality of Ódena is a clear example of extraordinary wines, like their white Sentits and red Signes or Mestre Vilavell, but its location and vineyards are outside any territorial DO placing it under the DO Catalunya.