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Already 2500 years ago, in the 6th century BC, the Phoenicians were growing Mourvedre grapes in the Barcelona area – where it had probably been brought from the Caucasus and Anatolia Regions. In the 6th century, there were Chardonnay grapes growing in this western Spanish region. Much later, the region was the birthplace of the sparkling wine Cava, which is nowadays accompanied by some powerful red wines and dry whites, where most wines are blends.Catalonia includes famous subregions such as Priorat, Penedes and Tarragona. Wines from the region can however simply have Catalunya on the label, basically meaning the wine doesn’t fit with any other DO classification area. Starting off any wine tour, you should definitely go from Barcelona, visit at least one of the multitude of great wine bars such as Monvinic, Ginger, La Viña del Señor or Vinatera del Call. I would love to give more recommendations for things to do or places to visit in Barcelona, but with lomited space comes fewer recommendations – and of course you should have to visit the many amazing places in the city which aren’t wine related as well.
Considering that Catalonia is one of the most dynamic wine regions in the world, it’s difficult to give you the ‘perfect trip’ through the area, but I would certainly recommend the origin of modern Spanish wine making in Penedés, finding out where the Cava production first began, and visiting the great vineyards of the Priorat region. You will probably need a few trips to the region before starting to feel like you covered some ground though, and a good idea is probably to follow the wine world in differing between Priorat, Penedès and Tarragona, and take one subregion at a time.
When the Romans first planted vineyards in what is now known as Champagne, little did they know that the pinkish still wine they made at the time would evolve to become one of the most celebrated drinks in the world – the sparkling wine now most commonly known as ‘Champagne’.
Even a few hundred years ago, wine makers including the notable Dom Pérignon were still trying to make still wines, which was difficult because of the climate. The vines were still not fully ripened when the winters came, meaning the spring would see the bottles which again started fermenting and then release carbon dioxide ‘bubbles’ – and with the weak bottles of the wine, there were often explosions in the cellars.
The main reason to visit the Champagne region is of course to see the history of the sparkling wine, visit the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Rheims and of course a few wineries such as Celliers Ruinart and the Moet et Chandon cellars. While there, I would advice starting from Paris and taking the Champagne tour, and include Louis Roederer and Taittinger wineries on the way, where you combine a beautiful setting with amazing champagne that makes you burst the bubbles all day.