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DO Terra Alta

An ancient history with its own flavors

The Designation of Origin Terra Alta (DOTA) is located in the south of Catalonia, between the Ebre river and the lands of Matarraña (Aragon), and includes 12 municipal districts. The main city of the denomination is Gandesa. It was recognized as a DO in 1972 and is one of the seven historical denominations of origin of Catalonia. It has an almost thousand-year-old winemaking tradition (the Order of the Temple through the Customs of Orta, from 1296, and the Miravet Customs, from 1319, already recorded the cultivation of the vine and the production of wine in the region). The DOTA is made up of municipalities with their own wine-growing life and identity, the family heritage of vineyards and wineries (often associated with cooperativism). Possibly, and despite the importance and quality of red wines, the most evident testimony of this culture must be found in white wine.

During the first half of the 19th century, the famous writer Joan Perucho, and even Pablo Picasso, knew that the wines of Terra Alta were distinguished between virgins or “brisats” (wines obtained by the fermentation of whole white grapes), both white. Throughout history the so-called “de Gandesa” or “de Batea” wines, especially white, but also black, had become popular. More recently, in the mid-nineties, the professionalization of the wine sector in the region and the progressive incorporation of excellence in this culture have made DOTA a hallmark in constant evolution and improvement.

Climate, land and unique products

In this region the vineyard is planted on natural terraces. It enjoys a Mediterranean climate, but with a strong continental influence, with temperature fluctuations between 6 ° C below zero and 38 ° C. Rainfall is low, 350 mm per year, so the vine is usually pruned very short, so that it has a creeping bearing that takes advantage of the humidity of the ground. The production of white wine predominates, made with white Grenache and Maccabee.

The wines are powerful, robust, full-bodied and highly alcoholic, especially those traditionally known as “brisats” wines, which are vinified as if they were red wines. For the rosés and reds he uses the carignan variety, the red garnacha and the hairy variety. There is also production of sweet wine and mistela.

The kingdom of the White Grenache

We go back to 1647 to find the first written document on the White Garnacha: "Vernatxa has been planted on one of the farms belonging to the Gandesa parish". White Grenache and Terra Alta, form an inseparable binomial and represent 22% of the production area of ​​the DO Terra Alta with about 1400h planted; This means 90% of the production in Catalonia, 75% in Spain and it is estimated that a third of the world production is centered in this region.

An important fact that explains the good adaptation of the White Grenache in Terra Alta is the climate, of the interior Mediterranean with continental influences, abundant insolation, low rainfall and cold winters. These climatic aspects are not a problem for the rusticity of the White Grenache, in return, they make the plants adapt without problems and have an excellent ripening of the grape.

"Morenillo" and "Empeltre", original varieties

If we made an alternative map of the secret grape varieties by denomination of origin, in Terra Alta the “Morenillo” would appear. Unknown, scarce, reviled by some of the qualities - little color or low alcohol content - that they demanded in past decades, today it lives its particular resurgence. Of the "Morenillo" you can find almost hundred-year-old vines in the region and it is a variety that adapts perfectly to the climate and terroir of the DO. "Morenillo" is a low-grade and low-color variety that provides a lot of acidity to the wines, as well as a large number of primary aromas.

The variety 'Empeltre' is the principal and traditional of Terra Alta, 10,000 ha are present in the area. It is one of the most beloved varieties thanks to its high fat content and the excellent quality of its oils. This variety is the result of a natural evolution. It is one of the oldest types of olive tree in Spain. It can reach a large wingspan, although its rooting capacity is low, which makes it necessary to practice grafting as the main method of propagation. In fact, it seems that its name derives from the Catalan word "graft". Its leaves are dark green and very shiny; its jet-black olives. Olives have a fat yield of around 18.3%. The ripening of its fruits is early, from the first week of November to the first of December. Its oil is fluid in texture, with a soft fruity smell and a delicate, sweet and somewhat almond flavor. They are almost never bitter or itchy. They are very pleasant oils on the palate, very sweet and smooth.

DO Terra Alta 

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