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.
Vins El Cep 2019 OT de Vins el Cep Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaCrisp aromas of wet stone and white fruits lead to a tight, ...See Full Review$15
Alta Alella 2019 Cau d'en Genís Pansa Blanca (Alella)CataloniaBriny citrus aromas open this Pansa Blanca (Xarel-lo) that comes across a ...See Full Review$27
Alta Alella 2019 PB Made with Organic Grapes Xarel-lo (Alella)CataloniaDusty aromas of lanolin and generic white fruits lead to a lighter-bodied ...See Full Review$19
Parés Baltà 2019 Calcari Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaDusty citrus aromas offer a hint of minerality, while this Xarel-lo feels ...See Full ReviewN/A
Alta Alella 2019 Tallarol Pansa Blanca (Alella)CataloniaA brownish gold color is telling, as this varietal Pansa Blanca (Xarel-lo) ...See Full Review$25
Can Sumoi 2019 Serra de L'Home Xarel-lo (Penedès)CataloniaBriny citrus aromas are slightly pickled and funky, while this low-alcohol (11.5% ...See Full Review$20
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