Catalan Classic

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Heading south of Barcelona for the Costa Dorada's authentic flavors

By Robert Camuto – Wine Spectator  Oct. 15, 2015

Sipping a glass of chilled cava on the sandy coast southwest of Barcelona, or a bold, complex red in the hinterlands of Priorat or Penedès, you're likely to ask, "Why haven't I been here before?"

This vast, varied stretch of Catalonia's Costa Dorada, or "Gold Coast" (Costa Daurada in Catalan), is off the beaten path for most Americans, who often visit Barcelona for a few days before heading off to other parts of Spain or Europe at large.

But this 130-mile stretch along the Mediterranean deserves more attention for its inviting sandy beaches, stunning natural parks, both on the coast and in the mountains, ancient cultural and historic sights, and terrific fresh seafood and Catalan specialties at prices that are a bargain by any standard. Add to these charms the area's proximity to ruggedly compelling inland wine regions such as Priorat and Penedès, and you may start planning your next visit.

Less sophisticated than the celebrated Costa Brava to Barcelona's north, the south attracts a younger crowd to accommodations and restaurants that tend to be simpler, family-run enterprises. The best restaurants serve beautifully prepared Catalan cuisine that gets creative without going all-out avant-garde.

"When you go south [of Barcelona], you go deep into Catalan roots—especially when you go inland," says Ferran Centelles, beverage director of cutting-edge chef Ferran Adrià's El Bulli Foundation, in Barcelona. Centelles, who worked for years at the revolutionary, now-defunct El Bulli restaurant on the Costa Brava, adds, "South, it's more authentic and less perfect than north." Still, going south requires a road map: The region is vast and democratic, with varying quality…  Read the full article in the Wine Spectator