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Modern Fine Wine from Catalonia

Catalonia, a self-governing state in northern Spain, is known for its Catalan language, unique cultural identity, and fiercely independent people. But it wasn't until relatively recently that the area began to receive international attention as a producer of fine wine.

Catalonia produces the majority of Cava, Spain's version of Champagne. But it also produces a variety of wines, from dry whites to full-bodied reds.

Ian Dorin, Spanish wine buyer for, says Catalan wines tend to "pack a bigger punch of fruit and alcohol" than other Spanish wines. He says Catalan wines are more modern — less earthy and more similar to wines from newer markets like California, Australia and South America. This may be because Catalonia is less restrictive than other wine-producing regions in Spain.

"The freedom for selecting whatever grapes you want to use or how long to barrel age a wine for gives the area its uniqueness," Dorin says.

The region of Priorat in Catalonia grows grapes on exceptionally old vines. These ancient vines produce some of the highest-quality wine. Dr. Jay Miller, Spanish wine critic for The Wine Advocate, says Priorat ranks as one of the top three wine-producing areas in Spain.

"The best wines of Priorat have a distinctive minerality, fragrant, complex aromas, and power combined with elegance," Miller explains.

Miller says there is a range of quality. The more difficult Priorat vintages can be hard, tannic, rustic, alcoholic and over the top.

Both Dorin and Miller agree that the biggest drawback to Priorat, and Catalan wines in general, is the cost. Good, inexpensive wines are few and far between — prices may be more suited for special occasions. But drinking wine with a personality as distinctive as the Catalan people who produce it could be a great way to celebrate.

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Shannon Fowler