From big rich reds to fresh, crisp whites, from fruity roses to fortified sherries to sparkling wines--Spain does it all.
This is cava country. Located just south of Barcelona, Penedes is part of Catalonia, the fiercely proud northeast portion of Spain with a vibe (and language) all of its own. More than 95 percent of Spain's sparkling wine comes from Penedes. For a while, these bubbly wines were called champañe, a tribute that failed to charm the wine houses back in Champagne. After French protests, the Spanish renamed their wines Cava (meaning "cave") and, though still following the Champagne method of production, developed their own rules to regulate which grapes could be used and where they could be grown.
The grapes that make cava are different from the wines of the Champagne region. In Penedes, they are mostly local Spanish grapes (Parellada, Macabeo and Xarello), grown in cooler coastal and low hilly country on chalk, limestone, and clay, though Chardonnay is increasingly being used in the blend. Penedes is not solely about Cava, however. It also produces non-bubbly white wines and reds. A very modern-minded region, Penedes is open to experimentation with international varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, which grows in some of the warmer vineyards.
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