LES GARRIGUES, DISTINCTIVENESS IN THE COSTERS DEL SEGRE
The appellation or Denominació d’Origen Costers del Segre was established in 1988 to promote a wine-producing region with a long tradition but that, as it was inland, had remained on the margins of key commercial developments for several centuries. Paradoxically, this isolation did not prevent the county from becoming a pioneer in important innovations, being the first one to introduce varieties of French origin into Catalonia (merlot, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay) and implementing vinification techniques used in California and other wine-production practices employed in the New World.
The DO Costers del Segre currently covers 4,212 hectares and is divided into seven sub-zones, each one with its own geological and climatic features. Their connection is the Segre river between, specially the foothills of the Pyrenees and the river Ebro, with a dry continental climate, a large amount of sunshine, very little rainfall, cold winters and hot summers.
The vineyards within this DO are located at between 200 and 1,000 metres above sea level. In the most northern sub-zones (Artesa and Pallars), the vines are at an altitude of between 350 and 1,000 metres and are notably affected by the Pyrenees while Raimat, the sub-zones of Segrià and Urgell, in the east and centre of the DO Costers del Segre, have gentler hills that hardly alter the typical variables of the continental climate, mostly with irrigated agriculture. The sub-zone of Valls del Riu Corb, at an altitude of between 400 and 700 metres and in the western section of the DO, has no irrigated agriculture, as is also the case of Les Garrigues, located at between 350 and 850 metres above sea level, while the two areas in the south of the DO are more affected by the Mediterranean, enjoying milder temperatures both in winter and summer.
Cérvoles Celler lies at an altitude of 700 to 750 m in Les Garrigues, the southernmost sub-zone of the DO Costers del Segre. This high land is crossed by rivers rising in the Sierra de Llena, the last mountain range of Montsant, which have eroded the countryside and carved out large valleys. The landscape is largely determined by traditional crops: vines, almond and olive trees. Among other things, this zone is famous for the quality of its olive oil, produced from Arbequina olives and popular the world over. These crops grow together with the profuse local vegetation of aromatic plants and woods of pine and oak. In fact, the name of Les Garrigues comes from the term for the hilly countryside and plant species that are very typical of the semi-arid Mediterranean climate. “Garriga” comes from the French word garrigue, from the Occitan word garric, which in the Languedoc dialect is also used for the most common plant species: Quercus coccifera, the kermes oak, known as the “garriga” oak in Spanish (chêne des garrigues in French).
Within this natural setting, one characteristic feature created by man are dry stone constructions: old vaulted huts, water containers, borders, walls, refuges and other structures made wholly from stone (without using anything to join the different pieces together), which blend harmoniously into the landscape.
The county of Les Garrigues also has important prehistoric sites boasting primitive artwork and classified as Human Heritage sites, providing a valuable testament to the intellectual ability of the first groups of humans who inhabited this part of Catalonia.