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Catalan wine is cheap, wonderful and readily available.
During our time in Costa Brava, we found ourselves buying a bottle each day at our local market – good bottles that cost us well under €10. The region may be most famous for the sparkling Cava produced in Penedès and the big, age-worthy reds of Priorat, but these wines are just the beginning.
In fact, we were drawn to wines made with grapes grown along the warm Mediterranean coast like Garnatxa (more commonly known as Grenache) and Xarello. The more wine we drank (and it was a lot), the more we wondered about the Catalan winemaking process.
Our questions were answered when we drove to Cadaqués for a private tasting at the Perafita winery located atop a hill at Celler Martín Faixó.
Catalan Wine Tasting in Costa Brava Video
Watch our YouTube video to see what it’s like to taste wine in Cadaqués.
Catalan Wine Tasting at Perafita Winery
There’s no better place to taste Catalan wine than in the Northern Catalan wine region of Empordá, less than an hour from the Southern French border.
The strong northern winds, known as Tramuntana, may drive the residents just a little bit crazy but these same winds also moderate the hot Mediterranean climate cooling the grapes after hot summer days. Primary grapes of the region include Garnatxa and Carignan though other more standard varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot also grow well here.
Upon our arrival at the Perafita winery, winemaker/oenologist Alberto Diaz immediately greeted us and proceeded to give us a tour of the organic winery owned by the Martin Faixó family. Diaz explained that the winery has 13 hectares of vines growing local Picapoll and Garnatxa grapes as well as varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Muscat.
The winery uses traditional methods similar to those used by monks back in the middle ages and makes the wine in a 14th-century farmhouse that was once used to guard the monastery on the opposite hill. Operating on family land in its current iteration since 2000, the winery released its first bottles in 2007 and keeps production limited to 35,000 bottles yearly.
Best of the Best
The winemaking process at Perafita starts with hand picking the grapes, pressing them and fermenting them along with their skins. Diaz said that the winery uses only 60% of the remains. Emphasizing quality over quantity, Diaz said that the winery sells off the remains that don’t meet the winery’s high standards. This can end up being up to 40% of the product.
“No quality, no good wines,” Diaz said.
It’s one thing to learn about the Catalan wine process but another to taste the finished product. Our wine tasting commenced at a table overlooking the scenic vineyard filled hills.
We tasted a wide selection starting with a Rosé made with Merlot and Garnatxa grapes and ending with a 100% Garnatxa dessert wine. We also tasted the Cadac made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnatxa grapes and the late harvest Mistela made with 100% Moscatel. We ended our tasting with a fortified wine, similar to ruby port, made with 100% Granatxa.
Though we hate to pick favorites, our favorite was the well-balanced 2009 Perafita (not mentioned above). Cellared for seven years, this wine could even go longer. Did we mention that we enjoyed olives with our tasting? They grow those at the winery too.
Perafita Winery is located at Carretera de Cadaques s/n, 17488 Cadaqués, Province of Girona, Spain.
Where to Eat in Cadaqués – Enoteca MF
Though the olives at the winery were tasty, we needed more food. And that’s exactly what we found at Enoteca MF.
Also owned by the Martin Faixó family and just a ten-minute drive from the Perafita winery, Enoteca MF is a seaside tapas bar located in Cadaqués just meters from the Mediterranean sea. With a front-row view of local fishing boats and a mixture of locals and tourists, this spot may well be the best place to dine in Cadaqués.
Enoteca MF serves a daily selection of local fare, much of it freshly caught and prepared to order. Our bread service included the obligatory Catalan favorite Pan con Tomate featuring tomatoes and garlic that we sliced and spread on our own. A daily chalkboard listed offerings like fresh anchovies and botifarra sausage served with local rovellon mushrooms.
As if running a restaurant and winery weren’t enough, the Martin-Faixo family also runs a successful fishing operation. Yes, that means we were privileged to munch on tuna tataki caught that morning. We also enjoyed preserved tuna conserva cleverly served in a metal can along with house-made Catalan style anchovies or ‘anxoves.
Not surprisingly, Enoteca MF exclusively serves wine from the Perafita winery. After the wine tasting, we knew which wines we liked best but instead opted for MF’s own craft beer. Yes, they brew beer too.
On this sunny late autumn day, drinking beer seemed like the right thing to do. We ended our meal with glasses of Muscat, savoring every last drop.
Enoteca MF is located at Plaja D’es Poal – Es Poal Beach, 17488 Cadaqués, Girona, Spain.
What to Do in Cadaqués – Visit Dali’s House in Portlligat
Since a visit to Cadaqués would be incomplete without a visit to Casa Dali, eccentric realist Salvador Dali’s seaside estate, we climbed the winding lane behind Enoteca MF for a visit right after lunch. Quirky, like its owner and resident of over 50 years, this visit ended up being a highlight of our day.
When Dali and his wife Gala built the house on a site formerly occupied by seven fishing huts, they designed the grand beachfront property in their own unique style, or should we say styles.
The interior is fascinating for its funky decor featuring the artist’s work and family photographs, but the home’s labyrinthine design is the real star.
We loved the art installations (especially the eggs) and the pool area with its lip-shaped bench, pop art (think Andy Warhol) and stellar view of the sea so much that we lingered to gaze at the bay until dusk.
Dali’s House in Portlligat is located at Platja Portlligat, s/n, 17488 Cadaqués, Girona, Spain.
Plan Your Cadaqués Stay
There are many wonderful hotels in Costa Brava, and Cadaqués is no exception. Although we did not sleep in Cadaqués, we highly recommend an overnight stay in this seaside town.
As we drove along the mountain curves in the dark, we wished we were instead enjoying a cocktail with a view of the sea. Next time.
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.