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Regional Profile – DO Pla de Bages

Pla de Bages is a small and old winemaking region that gained its DO status in 1995 and by 1998, international recognition for their exceptional wines. Located 43 miles northwest of Barcelona in the southeast Catalunya, the name of Pla de Bagés is rumored to have come from the Roman town of Bacassis, as written in a medieval Benedictine manuscript from the monastery of Sant Benet de Bagés, which was named after Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. Whether this town was the center of winemaking during the Roman times is yet to be known, but regardless of its namesake, I cannot think of a more appropriate name for an up and coming wine region?!

Although Pla de Bages is located near the Mediterranean Sea, it is strongly influenced by continental temperature variations as a result of its inland position. It is a semi-mountainous area that receives little rain. The soil is mainly clay and sand and with the landscape, soil and weather it makes for pretty un-hospitable growing conditions for grapes.

However, as a result of the extreme temperatures, the vines tend to produce naturally lower yields which leads to more concentrated grapes. In total, there are approximately 350 hectares of vines planted in this D.O. which is located primarily in the River Llobregat valleys and its tributaries. The most commonly grown red grape varieties are Ull de Llebre (known as Tempranillo outside of Catalunya), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sumoll. While white grape varietals consist of Macabeu, Chardonnay and Picapoll. Picapoll is actually indigenous to this particular region, used to produce some really fun and interesting white wines. Pinot Noir, Garnatxa (also known as Granacha), Malbec, Sauvignon and Syrah have also been grown in Pla de Bages but to a lesser extent.

Although, much of the DO grapes are still used primarily in the production of base wines for making Cava, several producers have succeeded in making exceptional non-sparkling wines. Generally, you will encounter white wines from this region that tend to be crisp and light with little or no oak, although some more progressive bodegas, such as Abadal are beginning to be recognized for their reds. Currently, there are seven bodegas in total producing wine in the region but if quality continues to improve, we may see this number increase.

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