Masterclass on Finca Qualificada: A Reflection of Terroir in the Great Wines of Catalonia with Rome Wine Expo

In collaboration with Institut Català de la Vinya i el Vi (INCAVI) and Generalitat de Catalunya Delegation in Italy, Rome Wine Expo orchestrated an insightful masterclass delving into the wines of Catalonia on the 3rd of March 2024. Entitled "Finca Qualificada, The Reflection of Terroir in the Great Wines of Catalonia", the event showcased six exceptional wines that have earned the prestigious recognition awarded by the Catalan Government showcased by: Luca Bellizzi, Delegate of Catalonia; Alba Balcells, Director of INCAVI; and Marc Greco, Sommelier of the Associazione Catalana dei Sommeliers.

Luca Bellizzi highlighted the commitment to promoting Catalan wines across various sectors emphasizing the significance of showcasing Catalonia's oenological prowess at the international level. In addition, Alba Balcells elaborated on the strategic agenda of promoting wines from qualified wineries, outlining their pivotal role in Catalonia's wine industry. This initiative, embedded within the #HoritzóINCAVI2025 plan, underscores the importance of Vins de Finca Qualificada (VFQ) wines as symbolic representations of Catalonia's rich viticultural heritage and unique terroir.

The masterclass culminated in a tasting led by Marc Greco featuring six distinguished wines hailing from different regions, exemplifying the diversity and excellence of Catalonia's winemaking landscape. The tasting provided an unparalleled opportunity to delve into the distinctive characteristics of wines that epitomize the pinnacle of quality within Catalonia's wine sector.

Wines Tasted

Raïms de la Immortalitat 2022 of Torre del Veguer (D.O. Penedès); Avi Ton 2021 of Eudald Massana Noya (DO Penedès); Coma Blanca 2018 of Mas D’en Gil (DOQ Priorat); Teixar 2019 of Vinyes Domènech (DO Monsant); V d'O2 2017 of Vinyes D’olivardots (DO Empordà); and Clos Mogador 2014 of Clos Mogador (DOQ Priorat).

Catalonia's Terroir

Catalonia's diverse terroir is a tapestry of landscapes, climates, and soils that converge to produce a rich array of wines, each bearing the unique imprint of its origin. From the rugged terrain of Priorat to the coastal vineyards of Penedès, Catalonia's winemaking regions offer a fascinating exploration of terroir and its influence on wine.

Priorat, nestled in the mountains of Tarragona, is renowned for its steep slopes, llicorella slate soils, and old-vine Garnacha and Cariñena vineyards. The intense sunlight, coupled with the cooling influence of altitude, imbues wines from this region with remarkable depth, complexity, and minerality. Penedès, situated along the Mediterranean coast, boasts a diverse terroir characterized by maritime influences, limestone soils, and a mosaic of microclimates. Here, indigenous varieties such as Xarel·lo, Macabeu, and Parellada thrive, yielding vibrant, aromatic wines that capture the essence of the Mediterranean landscape.

Further inland, the Empordà region encompasses rolling hills, rugged coastline, and a patchwork of soils ranging from granite to limestone. This diverse terroir provides an ideal setting for a variety of grape varieties, including Garnacha, Carignan, and Syrah, resulting in wines that are both elegant and expressive. Meanwhile, the Montsant DO, surrounding the iconic Montsant mountain range, features a unique terroir characterized by clay-limestone soils and a continental climate. Here, Garnacha reigns supreme, producing wines of exceptional purity, intensity, and finesse. In the high-altitude vineyards of Costers del Segre, nestled amidst the foothills of the Pyrenees, a cooler climate and slate soils create the perfect conditions for the cultivation of international varieties. From the volcanic soils of Garrotxa to the alluvial plains of Terra Alta, Catalonia's terroir is as diverse as it is distinctive, offering a tantalizing glimpse into the region's winemaking heritage. 

History of Viticulture in Catalonia

The history of viticulture in Catalonia dates back 2,700 years ago. This is evidenced with the findings of the oldest proof of viticulture in the archeological site of La Font de la Canya in Catalonia. With the arrival of the Romans on the Iberian Peninsula at Empúries in 218 BCA, the entire region of Catalanio, especially the coastal areas, experienced an expansion of vine cultivation and winemaking. A gradual falling of viticulture followed but in the early Middle Ages, Catalonia experienced a resurgence across various spheres, including politics, society, culture, and economics. At the heart of this revival were the region's monasteries, which played a pivotal role in spearheading vitiviniculture, the cultivation of grapes for winemaking.

Monasteries emerged as vital centers of agricultural innovation and economic activity, cultivating vineyards and producing wine as a means of sustenance and commerce. These religious institutions not only contributed to the spiritual and cultural fabric of Catalonia but also served as catalysts for repopulation efforts. The cultivation of vineyards and production of wine provided a source of livelihood for local communities, attracting settlers to previously uninhabited or sparsely populated areas. Monastic vineyards served as models of agricultural productivity and land management, inspiring the establishment of vineyards by secular landowners and settlers. Moreover, the presence of vineyards and winemaking activities facilitated trade and exchange, fostering economic development and growth in Catalonia. Wine became a valuable commodity, traded regionally and beyond, enhancing the region's reputation and prosperity. Beyond economic benefits, the cultivation of vineyards and production of wine played a significant role in shaping Catalonia's cultural identity. Winemaking traditions were passed down through generations, contributing to a sense of continuity and heritage. 

The VFQ Project

Central to INCAVI's agenda, the Vins de Finca Qualificada (VFQ) project underscores Catalonia's commitment to producing wines of unparalleled quality and character. It has already witnessed a significant growth, with seven new wines added to its roster since its relaunch a year and a half ago. Currently comprising 19 recognized wines, the project continues to expand and elevate Catalonia's wine sector on the global standing, serving as a beacon of quality and authenticity. In addition to the Rome tasting, the project will extend its reach to Switzerland in May and will feature a series of tastings across Catalonia in collaboration with the Catalan Association of Sommeliers. These initiatives underscore Catalonia's unwavering commitment to showcasing its finest wines and reinforcing its position as a world-renowned wine-producing region.

*Photos of Catalonia landscape taken from Catalan Wines website.

Vins de Finca Qualificada