The discovery, in 1997, of the protohistoric site of Font de la Canya in Avinyonet del Penede?s represented a pivotal moment in the understanding of the winemaking traditions of DO Penede?s – and of the Mediterranean basin as the cradle of wine culture. 26 years on, ongoing excavations are yet to unveil the full dimensions of the settlement and the scale of its winemaking operation. It added context and relevance to the previously verified fact that Catalunya’s first vineyard was planted in Penede?s.
Active from the late seventh century BC (625-600 BC) until the third century BC, when the Roman invasion of the Iberian Peninsula disrupted local settlements, Font de La Canya was an impressive hub of wine production and trade. Oenology was at the core of a very complex and highly organised community, with wine at the epicentre of its economic, social, cultural and religious framework.
However, the most important outcome of Font de La Canya’s finding was, rather than a look at the past, a fresh view on the pioneering spirit that animates the region’s community in the present. Today, as in the heyday of Font de La Canya, there’s a sense of restless optimism and passionate commitment to the landscape of Penede?s and the fruits it yields.
One DO, many terroirs
Indeed, the common denominators across all producers in DO Penede?s are a passion for the land and a fierce devotion to quality and terroir expression. The latter is particularly relevant in a region where diversity and contrast take centre stage. Not many wine regions boast two very identifiable landscape markers, both with geographic and symbolic value: the Mountain of Montserrat and the Mediterranean. The land and the sea; the sun and the wind; the past and the future – this dance of contrasts is what best defines the essence and exciting complexity of DO Penede?s.
Different subregions (see fact box), with distinct soil profiles and mesoclimates, offer a distinct facet of a region shaped by seemingly opposing forces, which in fact compliment and tease each other in a beautiful choreography.
The many faces of Xarello
Terroir diversity is also integral to the importance of the region’s flagship variety, Xarello. The grape’s strong character allows it to retain a perceptible identity across sub-regions while expressing the specificity of each site. Xarello is, therefore, an ideal ambassador for the region and its many terroirs. The ‘100% Xarello’ stamp seen on the most representative single-varietal expressions, now offers a marker of quality and character that invites consumers to discover the many declinations of a fascinating grape.
The path to resilience
Penede?s is not, however, a tale of one grape. And its future – winking at the past – is being built upon an exploration of the potential of other indigenous varieties, some of which are facing the risk of oblivion. Home to a vibrant community of winemakers committed, beyond the production of terroir-driven quality wines, to tradition (and to a tradition of innovation), different research projects are leading the way. There is an active effort to recover ancestral varieties which, inscribed in the region’s history, convey a strong sense of place while also being climate resilient and very adapted to local conditions. Among those with greater oenological and commercial potential are Forcada (white), Moneu and Sumoll (reds).
These efforts run alongside a long-standing sustainability project that has set an ambitious goal for the DO’s producers: from the 2025 harvest, all the wines released as DO Penede?s must be organic. Yet another manifestation of the pioneering spirit of the first Spanish region to release organic wines more than 40 years ago.
As DO Penede?s braces, as all wine regions, for a challenging future, it does so with the confidence of an ancestral pioneer, having weathered many storms and faced many sceptics with determination and…
Source : https://www.decanter.com/sponsored/do-penedes-a-story-of-ancestral-modernity-513748/