Costers del Segre

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Costers del Segre, small wine zone in north east Spain in semi-desert near the Catalan city of Lerida (see map under spain) and in the lusher mountains bordering the Priorat DO to the east. The climate is severe. The thermometer often dips below freezing point in winter and exceeds 35 °C/95 °F in high summer. rainfall barely reaches 400 mm/15 in in a year. The River Segre, a tributary of the Ebro after which this fragmented do is named, is little more than a seasonal stream.

The history of Costers del Segre was initially the history of one estate: Raimat, which covers 3,200 ha/7,900 acres of arid country 15 km/9 miles north west of Lerida. When Manuel Raventós, owner of cava producer codorníu, first visited the property in 1914, he found infertile salt plains abandoned by farmers. An irrigation artery, the Canal de Aragón y Cataluña, since transformed the estate into an oasis but it took over 50 years of planting cattle fodder, pine trees, and cereals before the soil was fit for vines. Today the Raimat vineyard covers 1,250 ha, which amounts to a third of the Costers del Segre DO. A labyrinthine irrigation system starts automatically whenever the temperature rises above 35 °C, and provides frost protection when the thermometer falls below 1 °C. As a result, imported vine varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay flourish alongside indigenous varieties such as Tempranillo, Parellada, and Macabeo.