Terra Alta

We can thank DO Terra Alta for inspiring a young Pablo Picasso who stayed in the region during his twenties, where he developed his cubism techniques afterstaying with a friend, Manuel Pallares. Picasso spent long visits here, recovering from an illness, and lived in the mountains while eating rice cooked on bonfires.

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Horta de Sant Joan was the town where Picasso would stay, and he spent much time documenting the sights and events of the town in his paintings and his diaries. Today, Horta Sant Joan is the home of Agraria Sant Salvador D’Horta, which produces both oils and wines.

terra_alta_06Terra Alta literally means “high land” and it’s from this high land that this wine region looks over the River Ebre and Tarragona below. Wine became resident here, most likely during Roman times due to the fact DO Terra Alta was on the route between Zaragoza and Tortosa. During the middle ages, Knights Templar planted vines and grew wine, but most of the wine was for local consumption, as the main export focus in the region was on olives.

In fact, there are two legal documents still in existence which covered the local grape and wine industry, Las Costums d’Orta from 1296 and Las Costums de Miravet in 1319.

Wine cooperatives became the rage in Terra Alta during the 20s. The cooperatives focused on white wines, and in particular an oxidised type of wine known as “amber blanc.” A noted student of Antoni Gaudi, Cesar Martinell, built and designed  several of the cooperatives winery buildings, many of which are still standing today, including ones Pinell de Brai, Gandesa, and Nulles.

The land itself features pre-coastal limestone mountain ranges, holm oak and white pine trees, and soil worked for centuries with almond and olive groves, along with vineyards.

DO Terra Alta has been known more recently for its innovation when it comes to varietals. Terra Alta is the home of white wine, rose wine, red wine, four liquor wines and one sparking variety. The following grapes are authorized in DO Terra Alta:

Red Grapes

  • Carignan, Grenache, Garnacha Peluda, Morenillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Ull de Llebre

White Grapes

  • Garancha blanca, Parellada, Macabeo, Moscatel, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon blanc, Marselan

 

The following vineyards are registered in DO Terra Alta. Links to the active websites are hotlinked in blue

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