Xarel·lo—sometimes written as Xarel-lo or Xarello—is a Spanish grape variety from Catalunya. It is used to produce various styles of wine, but is most often associated with sparkling Cava.
In the vineyard, the Xarel-lo grape is thick skinned. Its growing cycle is quite unremarkable, budding and ripening neither especially early nor late. Its berries are average size and light in color. The vine performs well at relatively low elevation, though it can also tolerate a wider than average variety of soil types and climatic conditions. Careful pruning is required to control yields and ensure quality. Xarel-lo is particularly susceptible to powdery mildew, downy mildew and coloure (shot berries), but with good resistance to other diseases.
Xarel-lo can produce wines with intense aromas and flavors, notably of earthy or herbal character.
Xarel-lo in Cava
This grape variety is most significant in the Penedès region in Catalunya, for the production of the traditional method sparkling wine known as Cava. Typically, Xarel-lo is blended with Macabeo (also known as Viura) and Parellada to form a base wine that will then undergo a secondary fermentation to give it its sparkle.
Like Champagne, Cava is made using the traditional method, wherein a blended base wine undergoes a secondary fermentation inside the bottle. This is distinct from the tank method used in Prosecco, where the secondary fermentation takes place in large, sealed tanks.
Of the three primary Cava grapes, Xarel-lo brings balanced acidity and strong aromatics to the blend. This acidity gives the finest Cava its aging potential, making for particularly long-lived sparkling wines. The grape’s prominent earthy aromas make Cava a distinctive traditional-method sparkling wine.
Xarel-lo in Alella
The Xarel-lo grape is cultivated and widely used in the still white wines of the Denominación de Origen (DO) of Alella. The region is named for the town of Alella, located to the northeast Barcelona. Here, Xarel-lo is known as Pansa Blanca.
It is the region’s primary grape variety, though local rules state that Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay can also be cultivated. Alella wines were traditionally medium-sweet, though the modern style is for dry white wines. This region can also make sparkling wines under the Cava DO, of which Xarel-lo is naturally a primary ingredient.
Still white wines from Alella have refreshing acidity, with flavors of stone fruits and citrus, notably lemon and lime. Alella wines can show some of the herbal hints that Xarel-lo brings to Cava.
Synonyms for Xarel-lo, other than those mentioned above, include Cartoixa, Cartuja, Cartuxa, Moll, Pansa, Pansal, Pansalat, Pansalet, Pansar, Pensal, Prensa Blanco, Vinate and Vinyater.
If sparkling wine is your preference, you’ll find plenty of options for wines that use the Xarel-lo grape in our online Buying Guide below. Wine Enthusiast’s tasting experts share their ratings and feedback on the top wines throughout the world, making it easy for you to find the next bottle to take home.
Raventós I Blanc 2011 Manuel Raventós Negra Conca del Riu Anoia Sparkling (Penedès)CataloniaA rich gold luster and aromas of baked apple and sourdough bread ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$84
Albet I Noya 2017 El Fanio Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaOily, lightly oxidized aromas are full and round but not exactly popping ...See Full Review$25
Pepe Raventós 2017 Vinya del Noguer Xarel-lo (Spain)Spain OtherThis cloudy unfiltered Xarel-lo smells vaguely of citrus on a lightly oxidized ...See Full Review$35
Can Sumoi 2018 Serra de L'Home Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaThis Xarel-lo smells funky, with notes of compost. A fleshy palate is ...See Full Review$25
Raventós de Alella 2017 Pansa Blanca (Alella)CataloniaYeasty apple aromas are a bit harsh and muddled, while this varietal ...See Full Review$14
Albet I Noya 2018 Curiós Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaThis Xarel-lo opens with murky aromas that are not entirely clean. A ...See Full Review$13
Juvé & Camps 2015 Essential Brut Xarel-lo (Cava)CataloniaDusty vanilla aromas are a bit funky and rustic, with a note ...See Full Review$18
Can Sumoi 2017 Serra De L'Home Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaThis new Xarello from Pepe Raventós and Francesc Escala arrives in a ...See Full Review$20
Alta Alella 2016 Privat Bruant Organic Brut Nature Sparkling (Cava)CataloniaBready yeasty lightly oxidized aromas are surprising for brut nature, normally the ...See Full Review$35
Albet I Noya 2017 Curiós Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaThis rudimentary Xarello's gaseous aromas suggest partially fermented orange juice. It's pulpy ...See Full ReviewN/A
Parés Baltà 2014 Electio Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaThis wine's yellow color is offputting. It smells more of haystack, compost ...See Full Review$50
Naveran 2015 Perles d'Or Brut Xarel-lo (Cava)CataloniaMade entirely from the Xarello grape, this brut smells is mildly funky ...See Full Review$24
Castellroig 2014 Vermell Brut Xarel-lo (Cava)CataloniaBitter peach pit and burnt orange aromas open this tan-colored Cava. A ...See Full Review$24
Vins El Cep 2016 GR5 Senders Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaApple and pear aromas are clean as a whistle. This is varietal ...Best BuySee Full Review$13
Castellroig 2014 Terroja de Sabaté i Coca Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaBriny citrus-peel aromas show a pyrazinic green side and a touch of ...See Full Review$19
Bohigas 2015 X Xarel-lo (Catalunya)CataloniaLight aromas of mango, melon and lime are quiet but clean. This ...See Full Review$13
Mont Rubí 2015 HMR White Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaClean direct melon and tropical-fruit aromas are simple but nice. This feels ...See Full Review$18
Albet I Noya 2015 El Fanio Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaNeutral, slightly briny aromas are fresh but low on fruit. This has ...See Full Review$20
Albet I Noya 2016 XA Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaSimple green-apple aromas are innocuous. This is fresh, easy and light on ...See Full Review$15
Agustí Torelló Mata 2015 XIC Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaDusty stone-fruit aromas suggest yeast and nectarine. This varietal Xarel-lo feels citrusy ...See Full Review$16