Best Catalan wines of 2021
by Miquel Hudin | 06-12-2021 | 2 Comments
At the end of each year, I like to look back at all the wines I’ve tasted and pick out those in Catalunya that were either outstanding or represented something notable within various regions. This was a busy year for tastings and between the reports of: DO Tarragona, DO Terra Alta, DOQ Priorat, and Corpinnat as well as various tastings with winemakers, I was more or less on pace and tasted over 1,000 references from Catalunya. Keep in mind that it’s still a bit slow going given that we are still very much in a pandemic and bigger tastings are something we just can’t be doing yet although many are anyways.
As with my previous Best Of lists, this is a very distilled selection of the wines from this year. This isn’t a prune job that takes the top scorers however. Doing that would preclude any sense of discovery as the top-scoring wines in a region often remain the same. This a list to span many types as there are wines from single vineyards as well as those produced in the thousands. The range of prices is from 9.50€ to 275€ with six whites, five reds, and a rosé spread amongst three sparkling and nine still wines.
Note that this final list of 12 wines are not in any particular order. It wasn’t easy to make such a compact list and I had to leave out so many wines I’m quite fond of in lieu of others that would give a bit more variety. After this initial list that’s free to view, paid subscribers can see the full reviews, scores, and price/quality listings for all the wines. Enjoy!
- Altavins Selecció -Blanc 2016
From the DO Terra Alta report, this wine shows exactly what’s amazing for this region in terms of their vanguard white variety of Garnatxa Blanca.
- Cellers de Scala Dei – Artigots 2017
I wrote up a full profile on this wine as it’s just an amazingly good example of Garnatxa from DOQ Priorat and will knock the socks off of people who aren’t often a fan of the variety. It’s as much not cheap as it is incredible.
- Enclòs de Peralba – Blanc 2019
This is a new project in the Penedès region, although outside the auspices of the DO for the moment. I profiled the project as they’re producing some excellent wines that show what the region is capable of. While the single-vineyard wines scored higher this introductory white of theirs encapsulates everything that’s great about the project.
- Pepe Raventós – Mas del Serral 2010
Another wine made outside of any DO, Pepe and his family winery of Raventós i Blanc have been working this way for nearly a decade now and it doesn’t seem to be slowing them down as shown by this sparkling wine that deserved its own article as it’s one of the highest scores I’ve ever given to a sparking wine. Definitely premium tier in terms of pricing but it certainly delivers.
- Parés Baltà – Hisenda Miret 2019
This was part of a vertical tasting that I did with the winemaker, Marta Casas. Penedès isn’t known for red wines and Garnatxa even less so it was a very interesting journey through the vintages which have all been under Marta’s watchful eye and shows great definition as well as what the region is capable of.
- Alta Alella – ’10’ EP 2014
Much like the Mas del Serral, this is a rather limited release sparkling but is fully within DO Cava. I tasted it during a retrospective tasting and overall, it’s a unique series of wines as despite the lengthy aging of 10 years, they do show the vintage and this showed wonderfully, but it won’t be on the market for a bit yet. Until then, do enjoy the 2010 which is just as delicious or the 2011 that’s just a notch under these two.
- Álvaro Palacios – La Baixada 2018
I’ve come back around to this wine many times. One of Álvaro’s newer wines, I last tasted it for the DOQ Priorat Report but I also tasted the 2020 with him for the recent pre-release report as well. It’s quickly gotten to be one of my favorite wines in his Priorat portfolio and despite its very hefty price, I like to think of it as a “budget Ermita” given that it’s 1/4 the price of that icon wine.
- Adernats – Xarel·lo Vermell 2020
This rosé was part of the DO Tarragona Report, one of the lesser known DOs in Catalunya. In using the pinkish color mutation of Xarel·lo, it really brought a good deal of grip and structure to the wine in a region that was honestly, a bit hit and miss overall. I really enjoyed this wine and given that it can be found for less than 10€, I think you will as well.
- Josep Vicens – Mon Iaio Sisco Homenatge Carinyena 2016
Despite DO Terra Alta being well known for its whites of mainly White Grenache, they produce great reds as well and this is a perfect example being an excellent 100% Carinyena from the region.
- Cal Pla – Mas d’en Compte Negre 2015
I tasted this for the DOQ Priorat report this year and it stood out not only for being a more classic style that works really well, but also because it’s readily available, well priced (for the region), and most importantly, a great wine from the 2015 vintage which are wines I generally find to be falling off a bit overall but not in this case.
- Júlia Bernet – Maria Bernet 2014
While I’ve tasted this wine before, I came across this specific vintage during the Corpinnat report. There were other wines from the bigger names in the group that scored higher, but this did very, very well and also happens to be priced very, very well. Additionally, the trajectory of the winery has only been upward since I was first introduced to them..
- Castell del Remei – Gran Reserva Blanc 2017
Here we have something of an outlier. This is a wine from DO Costers del Segre that has been aged in line with the white Gran Reserva parameters for Spain (48mo, min 6mo oak.) This would normally terrify me given that the move in Spain is to get away from these creaky aging requirements from a past age but here, it all works. Stellar wine that the owners told me is looking towards the Viña Todonia Blanco from Rioja in terms of profile. Lofty goals, but they’re doing a fine job of it so far. Very limited production and I have no idea what the price is, but it’s coming to market soon, so keep an eye out for it.
Is this everything that’s amazing in Catalunya? Lord no! There are of course countless excellent wines not included here. But if you want to explore further and see all the wines I’ve tasted along with their corresponding scores, please have a look at the much, much lengthier Tasting Reports or my articles on Catalan wines.
Cheers and the best of future wishes to you!