Wine |

The final layover: Penedès. Returning home

The end of the journey. The place where our story began. In a way, the Penedès region of the 21st century expresses the essential aspects of its own transformation over time: a thousand-year-old winemaking tradition, history with a capital H, heritage and landscape.

It all finds tangible expression in countless architectural elements that emerged in the vineyard, delineating a cultural landscape of vineyards, paths, trails, dry stone wells and huts, hundred-year-old farmhouses, and the vestiges of a past that make Penedès one of the oldest winemaking areas on the Iberian peninsula.

Excavations at the Font de la Canya archaeological site in Avinyonet del Penedès have unearthed a magnificent crop (grain and wine) storage facility in an old farming area. There, among the remnants of Phoenician ceramics, archaeologists have found about a hundred charred seeds from grapevines grown to make wine.

The region’s exceptional geographical location makes Penedès ideally suited to winegrowing. The modern-day appellation of origin comprises three different zones: Penedès Superior (in the foothills of the pre-coastal mountain range), Penedès Marítimo (facing the sea, with the coastal mountain range at its back), and Penedès Central (nestled between the mountains and the sea).

The appellation of origin has sought to highlight the landscape as a form of identity, as well as understanding its decisive role in producing outstanding wines. To this end, the appellation has been subdivided, turning the great Penedès into a complex entity with 96 soil types and eight subzones, which add significant enological value to the region.

Every subzone is a part of this whole, offering and expressing its own vision of Penedès—a uniqueness that derives from the topography, the wealth of soils and small parcels that accentuate the region’s richly diverse microclimates. A type of “Burgundification,” if you will.

Conca del riu Anoia, Valls del Bitlles Anoia, Conca del riu Foix, Serra d’Ancosa, Massís del Garraf, Costers de l’Ordal, Marina del Garraf and Costers del Montmell make up the eight freshly minted subzones.

Navigating contradictions, weighing possible futures, expanding horizons. Looking to the past to move forward. Understanding Penedès means one must first understand its inherent nature as a testing ground. Its curious spirit, which has always embraced modernity.

The region, synonymous with white and sparkling wines, made enormous progress during the 1960s and 70s thanks to new vinification techniques and the arrival of our man, Jean Leon, who was determined to make Penedès into a land of elegant Cabernets and Merlots.

Today Penedès is known for vineyards that strike this varietal balance. Its identity draws on an extraordinary and diverse ampelographic heritage, rooted in local varieties that represent a break with homogeneity. This has made it possible to articulate a particular form of expression, shaped by constant reinvention.

One of the characteristics that endow Penedès wines with great personality and such a distinctive voice is the fact that most wineries also own their vineyards.

This pan-humanist and holistic vision of winemaking creates a space for this enormous cultural heritage to be shared with the world. And the region does so, confident about the quality of its wines. Fresh whites with crisp acidity and fragrant floral notes; seasonless rosés; vigorously youthful reds with lovely fruit; mature reds that awaken from a long slumber, complex and perfect; sparkling wines worth far more than their price tag…

Sumolls with deep regional roots. Viscerally elegant Chardonnays. Malvasias with the flavor of sky and sea. Exquisitely elegant Cabernets. Lighthearted Garnachas. Deep Merlots. Soulful Xarel.los and stylish Parelladas… Something for everyone. Ask and you shall receive.

Today Penedès offers a modern take on its own essential truths, stripped of all artifice. A region that respects its history and environment. A version of the story that (finally) understands our origins. A place to settle and stay. Earthy, human, beautiful, warm. Our home. My home.

 

Rafa Moreno

 

Cover photo: Maria Rosa Ferré