Tacadevi » The white Pansa grape: The wine of Alella

The white Pansa grape: The wine of Alella

uva de alella

The white Pansa grape is a variety found in Catalonia, also known in other regions as the white Xarel-lo grape, although both have certain differential nuances (although some think they are the same). This grape was traditionally used to make cavas, although nowadays it offers different types of wine. In the following Taca de Vi article we tell you all the secrets about this grape. 

What is the white Pansa grape?

uva pansa blanca de alella

As always, we talk about the wines of Catalonia according to their denomination of origin. As we were saying, the white Pansa grape is a white grape variety, specifically the autochthonous grape of the D.O. Alella. It is characterized by a diversity of fruity notes, as well as a light citric bitterness that it contributes to both cavas and wines.

It is the predominant variety in this Denomination of Origin and the one that gives special uniqueness to the white wines, which are made with stainless steel, peculiar maceration, fermented and aged in barrels.

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Origin and history of Pansa Blanca

The name given to this native variety comes from Italian, specifically from the word chiarello or schilarello, which means claret, a term coined to refer to red wines with little colour, although its origin dates back to Catalonia.

In fact, in the 10th century, this variety was already appreciated due to its alcoholic content and acidity. After the famous vineyard crisis in Catalonia, known as the phylloxera, the Pansa Blanca has been the predominant variety in the Alella Denomination of Origin. This is due to the fact that it is the one that has proved to have the highest yield in this territory, in terms of climate and soil. 

As we mentioned, many people confuse the Pansa Blanca with the Xarel-lo grape, as it has been scientifically proven that the two cannot be considered different varieties. However, some old records show that both varieties were planted in different plantations, in a clearly differentiated way. For this reason, in the D.O. Alella has always been claimed as its own and totally unique variety. We strongly recommend that you take advantage of a wine tasting in Barcelona to get to know the history first hand, or one of our wine tours in Madrid, to get to know totally different wines. 

Differences between the white Pansa grape and the Xarel-lo grape?

The main difference between the two is their minerality. In fact, this minerality in the white Pansa grape is due to the type of terroir, which is a granitic subsoil with marine remains. This, on the surface, is transformed into small grains called “sandstone”. 

Characteristics of the white Pansa grape

The white Pansa grape is not excessively demanding in terms of soil composition, but it is true that it prefers compact soils and that it is perfectly adapted to Mediterranean microclimates.

The vine has erect and slow budding shoots, which makes it more resistant to late spring frosts. It needs to be supported on trellises and it ripens in the last fortnight of September. Its bunches are medium-sized and compact.

This grape is not very sensitive to botrytis, but it is sensitive to powdery mildew, powdery mildew, mites and mildew.

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Wines made from white Pansa grapes

vino blanco de alella de pansa blanca

The white Pansa grape allows us to make consistent, aromatic, well-balanced wines with high acidity. It also has a medium-high sugar content and fruity and fresh aromas. As we have already mentioned, the main characteristic that stands out is minerality.

One of the main priorities of the Alella Denomination of Origin is the ripeness of the grape. In fact, this variety offers us characteristic aromas of the area such as apple in those wines that have been aged in barrels.

Those wines that have been made with skin maceration, on the other hand, will acquire a bright yellowish colour, given by the ripeness of the skin, which turns into toasted tones and offers us a much more complex aromatic range, with notes reminiscent of peach and apricot. 

Finally, those wines that have been made in stainless steel will provide us with an aroma of white fruits such as fresh apple and pear

Whatever the method used to make the wines, we will be able to identify that it is DOP Alella by its bitter-citrus touch.

All the wines that can be made with Pansa Blanca can be matured in the bottle for many years to complement other varieties, but they do not give a good result for drinking as young wines (although this is being changed). 

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