Although both white and red grapes are grown, the most representative variety is the Xarel·lo, which makes intense sparkling and still white wines that are full of character.
This is the largest and most varied DO in Catalonia, where all kinds of wines are made, including white, rosé and red, young and for laying down, but also sparkling and even sweet wines.
Its proximity to Barcelona and the Costa Daurada makes the DO Penedès a major wine tourism destination.
The DO Penedès stretches along the Mediterranean coast between the Llobregat and Gaià rivers from Barcelona to Tarragona, sheltered from the Catalan Pre-Coastal Range and up to the mountains of Montserrat, in an area that is permanently exposed to the influence of the Mediterranean.
The land is formed by small hills rising from the sea up to Montserrat, passing through the small valleys of the various rivers that flow there. The climate is Mediterranean - temperate, warm and mild, with considerable seasonal thermal fluctuations. Low rainfall and high sunshine contribute to making the Penedès an ideal area for growing grapes.
The DO is made up of three areas spread over the counties of Alt and Baix Penedès, Garraf, Anoia, Baix Llobregat and some land in Alt Camp and Tarragonès.
The areas in the Penedès Superior, close to the Catalan Pre-Coastal Range (Alt Penedès, Alt Camp, Anoia and Baix Llobregat) enjoy the most frequent rainfall and greatest diurnal temperature variation. The Penedès Marítim (next to the sea and the Catalan Coastal Range, essentially in the counties of Baix Penedès and Garraf) has a more temperate climate due to the influence and proximity of the sea. The Central Penedès, which lies between the above two areas and mainly in the Alt Penedès, has a transitional climate and a balance between both microclimates.
The DO Penedès is widely recognised for the quality of its white wines, both those made with the traditional varieties of Xarel·lo, Macabeu and Parellada, and those that have been successfully introduced and acclimatised over the years, primarily Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.
The young white wines have high aromatic richness, a mild texture and a good balance between acidity and alcohol. There are also whites that are fermented or aged in barrels, which are more powerful and have more complex aromas and can develop well for two to five years.
Xarel·lo, the expression of a territory
However, the Xarel·lo is the most widely cultivated grape variety in the DO and is very well adapted to the Penedès terroirs and climates. The young wines made there are full-bodied, fruity, aromatic and with balanced acidity and good alcohol content. Aged Xarel·lo wines are consistent, warm, long, with a mineral finish and strong varietal expression.
By constantly innovating, reintroducing local varieties that had disappeared and responding to new trends, the DO Penedès also offers a wide range of quality red wines. The most widespread varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo, while cultivation of Sumoll and Garnatxa Negra is on the rise again.
And the sparkling wines: Clàssic Penedès
With the DO Cava also present in the area, the DO Penedès protects sparkling wines too, although there are far fewer than still wines. The Clàssics Penedès are made using traditional and ancestral methods, like the best quality sparkling wines in the world.
Two very strict requirements apply to the Clàssics Penedès: they must be made exclusively with certified organic grapes and aged in the bottle for at least 15 months.