- Where to find it: Catalunya
- Taste profile: earthy and herbal, with high acidity
- Food pairing: as an ingredient in Cava, very flexible: cheeses, salads, seafood and shellfish
What is Xarel-lo and where is it found?
Xarel-lo, which is also sometimes written as Xarel.lo, or just plain Xarello, is a white grape variety from Catalunya. In the small DO Alella, up the coast from Barcelona, you’ll find it referred to as Pansa Blanca. It can be used to make various styles of wine, but it's most commonly associated with Cava, where it's part of the traditional three-grape blend along with Parellada and Macabeo.
Xarel-lo's main characteristics
Xarel-lo is quite a thick skinned grape and its berries are average size and colour. It’s a pretty adaptable variety, performing well at relatively low altitude but also tolerating a wide range of soil types and climatic conditions. It needs careful pruning to keep yields under control and ensure quality. Xarel-lo is particularly sensitive to diseases like powdery or downy mildew, but otherwise fairly resistant.
Its relatively high alcohol and acidity mean some wineries, like Celler Pardas for example in central Catalunya, are experimenting with ageing to see how it evolves over time.
What does Xarel-lo taste like?
Xarel-lo can produce wines with intense aromas and flavors, notably of earthy or herbal character.
Where can I try some Xarel-lo?
The easiest way to try Xarel-lo is to grab a bottle of Cava. Xarel-lo is appreciated by Cava producers because it adds body to the wine to complement the freshness they get from the Parellada grape. The Grimau Brut Cava from the Grimau winery in Penedés (Catalunya) is made using the méthode traditionelle with secondary fermentation in the bottle. The wine then spends a minimum of 15 months ageing in the bottle before going on sale. It’s bright and clear with delicate steady bubbles, and is a very aromatic Cava with a strong fruit profile. Smooth and tasty on the palate, it has well-balanced acidity and a delicious sweetness.