Delicacy and lightness of touch are rarely descriptors that come to the fore when Spain is discussed in the world of wine. The generally low levels of rainfall, hot summers and warm Autumns often make for concentrated, bold, spicy wines and this has come to characterise the international perception of Spanish reds in particular. Yet across the country, a combination of higher altitude plantings, earlier harvesting and a trend in consumer habits has turned the needle back towards freshness and lower levels of alcohol. Leading the charge for this style of red wine in Catalunya, is Trepat.
Native to DO Conca de Barbera, Trepat is often described as the “Pinot Noir of Catalunya”, due to its tendency towards bright red fruits, firm acidity and subtle, herbal aromas. This profile has also seen it stake a claim as one of the most interesting red grapes in Cava production, where it´s naturally high levels of acidity and refreshing nature come to the fore. However, much like Xarel.lo on the white wine spectrum, Trepat is arguably at its most interesting when produced as a still wine.
Trepat is a relatively hardy grape variety in the vineyards, mostly resistant to fungal disease and rot, though its early budding nature does leave it vulnerable to Spring frosts, particularly when planted at higher elevations. Barely 1,000ha is planted in total, which may account for its relative obscurity outside of Catalunya, but it has the highly valued ability to reach full phenolic ripeness, all whilst retaining freshness and low levels of sugar. Its thin skin and light colour makes it an ideal candidate for rosado wine production, though the producers who take the time to coax the finely grained tannins out of the skin are well rewarded. The potential for high quality, red wines made from Trepat is only just being discovered!
It´s impossible to talk about Trepat without also giving credit to its spiritual home; DO Conca de Barbera. North-West from the historical city of Tarragona, Conca de Barbera is famous for its scorching summers, cool winters and chalky, limestone soils. Vineyards are planted up to 500m above sea level and the combination of these natural factors with the inherent verve of Trepat is truly what makes these wines so special. “The Pinot Noir of Catalunya”? It´s not how we´d describe it. Trepat has its own story to tell; come and find out for yourself!
Photo By Quico Llach – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2491915