If you fancy a day out of Barcelona then I can highly recommend a wine tasting visit to the Penedés, an area famous for wine and especially cava (Catalan sparkling white wine, don’t call it champagne). We went by car and the Penedés is an easy hour south-west of the city.
We went to the J. Miguel Jané winery for an organised tour and cata de vinos (wine tasting). Our host was superb, her knowledge was wide ranging and she gave us a tour of two different vineyards, and then we went through the bodega where they collect the grapes, wash and crush them, then store them. The process was explained in detail and we visited the storage areas and then saw some of the oak casks.
We were pretty well ready for a taste by then and we then went into a lovely, cool room where the tasting was set up.
There was a pica-pica (small selection) of tapas; pan con tomate, local sausages and cheese, as well as four different wines all set out for our group.
Our host wouldn’t let us start just yet, she explained a little about checking the colour of the wine and the lagrimas (tears, or for English speakers, legs).
Then we started with a Sauvignon Blanc, went to a delicious Rose, then onto a semi-reserve and a reserve. The latter two were combinations of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Xarello.
I was surprised when the tour finished, we’d spent nearly 3 hours at the bodega and it was fascinating and great fun.
Costs for a wine tour vary depending on where you buy it but should cost around €40 per head. Miguel Jané wines are popular in France and the UK, but only available in Spain via their cellar door. Prices are more than fair for all the work that goes into the wine, from €5 to €8 a bottle with discounts for cases, and they’ll arrange international shipment at reasonable prices.
There are tens of wineries to visit and the larger wineries (Torres, Vallhermoso, etc.) will accept walk-ups if they have space. We wanted to go the smaller, independent experience so needed to book a few days in advance and I’d have to say the Miguel Jané people put in a huge effort to make the visit enjoyable and memorable.
Tip-It’s perfectly possible to visit the Penedés using public transport but I imagine it would be a logistical challenge. Ideally a group could get a mini-bus and make a fabulous day of it, and maybe stop in Sitges on the way home, otherwise a car is recommended.
One small criticism, there was not a lot of interaction between us and the others in our group. A bit surprising when you consider that wine drinkers almost never shut up! Perhaps we needed just a little encouragement.