SWEET WINE DOSSIER -  TERRA ALTA
  vidolç.cat
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   TERRA ALTA

  Country (comarca) of southern Catalonia. Located between Ebro river valley and Aragon Land.  His catalan name means ‘High Land’ because it is elevated from Ebro valley .   It is relative flat  about 400 m height in the center but limited by mountains from 600 to 1000 m height : Cavalls, Paüls, Corrals, el Port...

The population is 12500 inhabitants. Main village is Gandesa (3000 ) and many towns have arround 1000 inhabitants: Horta de Sant Joan, Corbera, Arnes, Bot, Batea, Vilalba dels Arcs, Pinell de Brai, La Fatarella... The people have strong personality but they are friendly with foreigners. The climate is Mediterranean but continental influenced. The winter is cold and the summer is warm and dry. Winds are normally from NO (cerç) sometimes violent  and very dry or southern  wind  from the sea side warm and humid. Low rainfall amount 400-500 mm. No big rivers, only the Canaletes, Algars and Matarranya have water during the whole year.

There are few main roads to reach the centre of the land from Ebro river by Móra d’Ebre or Xerta and from Aragon country by N-420 road from Alcañiz. Little roads between towns are sinuous among hills and creeks. Insteresting to understand the  wine country landscape.

raim garnatxaTHE LAND AND WINES

Very old wine tradition. Several cellars (cellers) can be found in every town. Most of them are cooperative cellars coming from XIX century some of them modernist-art style like Gandesa or Pinell (picture). Due to the dry condition of the land, agriculture is dry Mediterranean with crops as almond  tree, olive tree, cereals and grapevine.

Vineyard is very important. The types of grapes are mainly Grenache (garnatxa) with white and red varieties. Grenache grape are the most typical  in Terra Alta but many other kinds of grape can be seen as Carignan, macabeu, syrah… Terroir is limestone with sedimentary rocks. The vineyard is cultured on terraces limited with characteristic stone walls, sometimes on smooth slope fields on the hills. The dry climate in summer, even in autumn, is very useful to keep the grapes in healthy condition till the harvest. The wine appellation (denominació) TERRA  ALTA certify the quality of the wines of the whole land. This comes from 1972. Main kind of wines produced in this region are the dry wines made from white Grenache, very specials of this appellation.

SWEET WINE CULTURE

The sweet wines are always produced as normal wine specialty. Sweet wines are normally made from Grenache grapes , white and red. The grape accepts over maturity on the plants during September. That gives many sugar on he grape so, high alcoholic rate for dry wines and for sweet wine, less alcohol needed to  stabilize it. The sweet wine keeps a lot of natural sugars from the grapes. Sweet white Grenaches are reserved during several months in oxidative medium in oak barrels. Old reserve wine could be found ( 3 to 15 years).

Nowadays the cellars are the main wine makers and they keep the  historic style of wine, however the tradition to keep sweet wine barrels at home were usual during the XX century. The farmers mixed old reserves with new sweet wine in the barrels to compensate the consumed level.

pinellSweet white Grenaches have golden light colors, fruity smells, as flavors: honey, dry fruits or nuts, very persistent and unctuous.

 Old reserve sweet white Grenaches show darker color orange or amber. Very complex smells. Flavors from fig compote, honey, toasted almonds, nuts.. very persistent and unctuous.

Sweet red Grenaches can be found as one-year old  with nice garnet or violet color. Smells of red fruits, flavors of fig fruit, red fruits, sweet spices, cocoa. Very tannic flavor which complements its round sweet taste.

To complete the sweet Terra Alta wine range,  we can found ‘misteles’ That are grape juice (must) without any fermentation, alcohol stabilized to 15-20º . They have a flat sweetness and sticky taste. We can also found muscat ( moscatell ) wines. Nevertheless the sweet wines produced from white and red Grenache grapes are much more characteristic and will be  the best recommendation from vidolç.cat

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