Xarel-lo, Spain's other great white grape
Of the many Spanish grape varietals used to produce white wine, Xarel-lo would not be the first one to come to mind. Albarino gets top billing, followed by viura (macabeo), verdejo, and then up and comers godello, treixadura, and garnatxa blanca, among many others.
You might recognize Xarel-lo in its customary role as one of the trinity of grapes to produce Cava, one of Spain’s best-selling wine exports. Originating from Catalonia, Xarel-lo is a thick-skinned grape that grows well in many climates and elevations, especially in Penedès where most Cava is made. Xarel-lo brings balanced acidity and earthy aromatics to the table providing a strong backbone for long aging.
In the area just north of Barcelona called Alella, Xarel-lo (also known as Pansa Blanca), is the primary grape to produce still white wines notable for refreshing acidity, herbal aromas, and citrus fruit flavors.
Although still white wines made from 100% Xarel-lo were produced in limited quantities in the past, the shift to bulk Cava production took precedent, and this style faded away.
As part of the Catalan wine renaissance over the last twenty years, a few viticultores have been recuperating and revitalizing abandoned plots of Xarel-lo, emphasizing the unique characteristics of specific terruños of this indigenous varietal. Connecting to the traditional roots of the past with responsible eco-bio farming and minimum intervention in the cellars, these winemakers seek to bring out the full potential of the Xarel-lo grape, placing it firmly in the conversation for not only a great white wine of Spain, but in all the world.
Aside from our vast sparkling wine line-up, here are a couple of the great winemakers in Spain today continuing to do the work: