Parellada: Catalonia’s Hidden High-Altitude Gem

Parellada is a light and aromatic white grape variety indigenous to Catalonia, Spain. Less well-known than some of its regional counterparts, Parellada offers elegance, subtlety and a refreshing zestiness that makes it truly stand out, especially in high-altitude vineyards.

A Brief History

Parellada, one of the traditional Cava grape varieties alongside Macabeo and Xarel-lo, has a long history in northeastern Spain, particularly in the Catalonia region. Though it may not have the international fame of other Spanish grapes, it has been valued for centuries in its homeland for its ability to produce fine, elegant wines, especially when grown in cooler, mountainous areas.


Parellada is a late-ripening grape variety that thrives in higher altitude vineyards, where the cooler temperatures allow it to retain its desirable acidity. The grape is known for its delicate skins and susceptibility to pests and diseases, requiring careful handling and attentive viticulture. Wines made from Parellada are generally lower in alcohol and have a light body, often with a distinct freshness and finesse.

Flavour Profile

The flavour profile of Parellada is marked by delicate citrus and green apple notes, often accompanied by floral undertones and a certain minerality. These wines are typically crisp and refreshing, with a subtle complexity that unfolds elegantly on the palate. Despite the lightness of body, a well-made Parellada can exhibit a pleasing roundness and texture.

Different Styles of Wine

While Parellada is most commonly blended with other grape varieties in the production of Cava, Catalonia’s traditional method sparkling wine, it is also made into varietal still wines. These can range from light, fresh and youthful styles, typically unoaked and designed to be enjoyed young, to more complex versions that have seen some oak ageing, adding depth and structure.

Wine Making and Maturation Options

Due to its light and delicate characteristics, Parellada is often fermented in stainless steel at low temperatures to preserve its fresh fruit flavours and high acidity. For more complex styles, some winemakers opt for oak fermentation or ageing, while lees ageing can add creaminess and body to the wine. For Cava production, it undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle, which contributes yeasty and toasty notes to the wine.

Important Regions

Parellada’s main growing area is in Catalonia, Spain. Within Catalonia, it is widely planted in the regions of Penedès and Tarragona. Its adaptability to cool, high-altitude climates has also led to successful plantings in the Pyrenean foothills.

Food Pairing Suggestions

Parellada’s high acidity and delicate flavours make it a great pairing for light and delicate dishes. It goes well with fresh seafood, white fish, shellfish, sushi, and light salads. The sparkling Cava blends, which include Parellada, are versatile and can be enjoyed with a range of dishes from tapas to lighter meat dishes.

In the realm of Spanish white wines, Parellada stands as a hidden treasure that beckons the curious and the adventurous, offering a refreshing, high-altitude twist to the Catalonian wine narrative.

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Written by

Bernard Marr has a deep passion for wine. He has written hundreds of articles on wine, including features for Forbes, covering wine-making and industry trends. Away from the world of wine, Bernard is a world-renown business and technology futurist. He is the award winning author of over 20 best-selling books and has a combined audience of nearly 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters.

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