While Xarel·lo (pronounced sha-rel-lu in Catalan) is a white grape widely planted in Catalunya, it is often easily dismissed as merely one part of the three key grapes in the typical Cava blend. There are many in the region—especially in Penedès where the grape is found most abundantly—who believe that its days of being part of the chorus are over and it’s time to take the spotlight. There have been recent festivals devoted to the grape, and the ’natural’ wine crowd have also taken to it, given that it does well with amphora and other slightly experimental production methods.
After several tastings of single varietal Xarel·lo, I can safely say that I’m a convert. The wines of Porcel·lànic by Ton Rimbau always blow my mind, but their prices start at €60 due to the unique, albeit expensive, clay bottles. Given this, I’d like to offer up a couple of other wonderful, yet wallet-friendly options.
LOXAREL XAREL·LO 2014
Loxarel is serious about this grape, so much so that the cellar is named after it—Lo-xarel. But this young wine forms a perfect introduction to the grape. It’s aromatically fresh, elegant and expressive with white fruit notes. Bright and exciting in the mouth, it opens up the palate wonderfully for seafood appetisers. €11
XAREL·LO D’AT ROCA 2014
One of the more exciting new Xarel·lo bottles to emerge. The production run is just 1,300 bottles from one high altitude vineyard near Ordal called Casa Llarga. A wonderfully aromatic expression of mandarin blossoms, smoky, light minerality and basil. Full and creamy, it doesn’t have as long a finish as some but makes up for it by having great volume for a white wine. €18
Miquel Hudin is originally from California but is now based in Barcelona. He founded the Vinologue enotourism series of wine books (www.vinologue.com).