QUALITY PRODUCTS FROM COSTA DAURADA
The Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of Catalonia (Generalitat) uses special designations to classify certain quality products. Provided below is a brief explanation of
Denominació d'Origen Protegida (DOP):
Literally, Protected Designation of Origin, this label is used to denote products from a specific geographical region whose characteristics are due exclusively to the region's environment, including both natural and human factors. Their production, processing and/or preparation must be performed in the specified region.
Indicació Geogràfica Protegida (IGP):
Literally, Protected Geographical Indication, this label is used to designate products associated with a certain quality, reputation or other trait attributable to their specific geographical origin. Their production, processing and/or preparation must be performed in the specified region.
Denominació d'Origen (DO):
Literally, Designation of Origin, this designation guarantees the geographical provenance and quality of wines made from specific grapes varieties according to pre-established vine-growing, winemaking and aging techniques.
Marca de Qualitat (MQ):
Literally, Mark of Quality or 'Q Mark', this designation is awarded by the Government of Catalonia to foodstuffs with certain outstanding qualities in accordance with specific
rules. 'Q Mark' products must meet the strictest food-quality standards under current law and be certified by an external auditor.
Producció Agrària Ecològica (Organic Agricultural Product):
The Catalan Council on Organic Agricultural Products (CCPAE) was created in 1994 as the sole control and certification body for organic agricultural products in Catalonia.
Today, a total of 56,212 hectares in Catalonia are registered with the CCPAE, of which 6,368 lie within the counties of Tarragona. Most of this area (3,751 hectares) is used for pastures, meadows, forage land, scrubland, woodland and the harvest of wild species. The main products produced and sold with this label in Costa Daurada are canned fruit, dried fruit and olive oil (Cabacés and Ulldemolins).
DOP Reus Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts were first introduced in the region as a crop plant in the 19th century, after a phylloxera plague decimated the local vineyards. Today's protected hazelnuts are farmed according to traditional methods and belong to the Negreta, Pauetet, Gironella, Morella and Culplana varieties. The production area in Costa Daurada encompasses the counties of El Baix Camp, El Tarragonès, L'Alt Camp, La Conca de Barberà and El Priorat. In total, the DOP Reus Hazelnut region spans an area of 22,000 hectares.
IGP Valls Calçots
The Valls calçot is a variety of spring onion (Allium cepa L.) known as Blanca Gran Tardana from Lleida. It owes its name, which is derived from the Catalan word calçar, or
'to shoe', to the way it is farmed: the onions bulbs are said to be 'shod' when covered with soil. Calçots typically have a white base ranging from 15 to 25 cm long and a diameter, as
measured 5 cm from the root, of between 1.7 and 2.5 cm. The Valls calçot is grown in the
counties of L’Alt Camp, El Baix Penedès, El Tarragonès and El Baix Camp.
Ideally, calçots are chargrilled over a fire made from the onion shoots themselves and served with salsa salvitxada, a mildly spicy red pepper sauce. The IGP Valls Calçot region spans a total of 30 hectares.
DOP Siurana Olive Oil
Siurana olive oil may only be made from Arbequina, Rojal and Morruda olives. Depending on when the olives
are harvested, the oil may be fruity or sweet. Both types of oil are made from extra virgin olive oil and have an acidity of less than 0.5% and peroxide values of no more than 15%. The production
area encompasses parts of the El Priorat, El Baix Camp, El Tarragonès, El Baix Penedès, L'Alt Camp, La Conca de Barberà and Ribera d’Ebre counties, the latter in Terres de L'Ebre. A total of 12,000
hectares of olive groves are registered and controlled by the Regulatory Council.
IGP Prades Potatoes
Prades potatoes are grown in the municipalities of Prades, Capafonts, La Febró and
Arbolí in El Baix Camp County. This region lies at the foot of the Prades Mountains,
and the combination of its altitude, soil and climate conditions with traditional local farming methods has given rise to a potato renowned for its distinctive characteristics and superior quality. Specifically, the region's potatoes are of the Kennebec variety and have an average diameter of 40 to 80 mm, although they can grow up to 100 mm across.
The IGP Prades Potatoes region spans a total area of 20 hectares, divided into 16 areas.
MQ Blue Fish
The only species of blue fish eligible for the Q Mark, providing they meet the minimum size requirements, are sardines (12 cm), anchovies (11 cm), Atlantic mackerel (18 cm), Pacific mackerel
(18 cm), bogue (11 cm) and horse mackerel (12 cm).
Q Mark blue fish must be caught with nets no longer than 300 metres, not counting the length of the grips, which may have a maximum length of 15 metres each. Once the shoal of fish has been tracked and encircled, the animals are kept alive in the net until they are packed.
The original character of the wines from this region is due to the exclusive characteristics of the
area where the grapes are grown. Most of the vineyards are planted on land that, upon closer inspection, does not appear to be soil at all, but rather a bed of flat, grey, brittle rocks. These
laminates are a type of slate known locally as llicorella. Water is scarce in summer, and the grape harvest is thus modest. At the same time, however, the grapes are of exceedingly high
The white varieties used are Garnatxa Blanca (Grenache Blanc), Macabeo, Pedro Ximénez and Chenin; red grapes include Garnatxa Negra (Grenache Noir), Samsó, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
DOQ Priorat wines have several distinctive characteristics. The young reds are densely coloured and bright, with mellow, lingering bouquets, a strong attack and a full-bodied, velvety mouthfeel. Oak aging refines the wines, endowing them with a sensuous complexity that is difficult to capture in words.
The DOQ Priorat region encompasses a total of 1,700 hectares and produces an average of 15,000 hectolitres a year. www.doqpriorat.org
The vineyards of the DO Montsant region tend to be arranged on dark, terraced lands in the south with relatively unfertile slate soil that is nevertheless ideal for producing grapes with
The two main red grape varieties grown in the region are Carinyena (Carignan) and Garnatxa (Grenache), which yield wines well suited for aging. In the region's warmer south, the Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo) grape prevails. Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnatxa Peluda (Lladoner Pelut), Merlot, Monastrell, Picapoll Negre and Syrah grapes are also authorised, all of which are well suited to the specific characteristics of the land.
As for whites, Garnatxa Blanca (Grenache Blanc) and Macabeo are the region's traditional varieties and today are planted almost exclusively. This notwithstanding, Chardonnay, Pansal, Parellada and
Trobat grapes may also be grown.
Thanks to its long history as a wine-producing region, DO Montsant produces quality wines with a high mineral content and short aging periods that can be kept for different amounts of time and can cater for all tastes.
DO Montsant vineyards span a total area of 1,800 hectares. www.domontsant.com
DO Conca de Barberà
The history of winemaking in the county of La Conca de Barberà dates back to the Middle Ages and the era of the Cistercian monks of the abbey of Santa Maria de Poblet and the warrior monks, the knights Templar. More recently, in the early 20th century, several
Modernist wineries were built in the region. Famously described by Àngel Guimerà as 'wine cathedrals', today these buildings make up some of Catalonia's loveliest architectural heritage.
The region is graced with exceptional natural conditions, thanks to the erosive action of the Francolí River and a microclimate that combines the most salient features of the quintessential Mediterranean climate.
The varieties used in region include the white grapes Macabeo, Parellada and Chardonnay and the red grapes Garnatxa Negra (Grenache Noir), Trepat and Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo). Conca de Barberà produces several excellent wines, such as the young whites and rosés made from the indigenous Trepat grape or the aged Ull de Llebre reds. The Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots are also quite good.
The registered vineyards of the DO Conca de Barbarà region span a total of 3,928 Hectares. www.doconcadebarbera.com
The wines of Tarragona have been prized since ancient Roman times, when they stood out among competitors from other corners of the empire. Today, the DO Tarragona production
area encompasses over 72 municipalities, primarily in the counties of El Camp and part of La Ribera d'Ebre in the Terres de l'Ebre region. In all, the wine region spans 9,225 hectares and
produces some 400,000 hectolitres a year.
The grapes varieties grown are Macabeo, Xarel·lo, Garnatxa Blanca (Grenache Blanc), Parellada, Chardonnay and Muscat of Alexandria (also known as Malaga or Roman Muscat) for white wines, and Samsó, Garnatxa (Grenache), Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for reds and rosés.
The region's whites are remarkably mellow, balanced, aromatic and fruity, whilst the reds are strong and aromatic and the rosés are fresh and cherry-coloured. Tarragona's signature wines are those especially meant for dessert, aromatic fortified and generoso wines with a straightforward taste.
The dry varieties are warm, whilst the sweet ones are more harmonious. The region also produces excellent rancio wines. www.dotarragona.cat