Some say it’s Edetària’s panal, that deep sandy soil built upon layers of sediment traced with lime. Some might say it’s the wind, which carries maritime influences up 700 meters from the sea below. Picasso, who came to the area to recover from scarlet fever back in 1898, might have agreed. Others may credit the indigenous grapes that give Terra Alta wines their particular finesse, among them Garnatxa Blanca and Garnatxa Peluda.

All three certainly work together to create a unique terroir which sets it apart from any other in Catalunya.

Winemaker Joan Àngel Lliberia began farming his 50 hectares of this special landscape in 2003 and quickly built his project, Edetària, into one of the leading wineries in the region. Lliberia, son of a winemaker and grandson of an oenologist, might acknowledge that making excellent wines runs in his blood, but insists the work is as much about approach and personality as it is instinct.

He has created a true boutique winery, where every aspect of the process is tightly controlled, from hand selection in the vineyard to manual collection of the 10 different types of barrels he employs for ageing. Each base wine is processed separately before blending and is an expression of its particular soil: panal, còdols, valls, tapàs, and tapàs blanc. Every aspect has been carefully considered and tweaked until the wines achieve the fullest expression of the land.

Edetària’s whites are particularly expressive. They are floral and fruity, layered with almond blossoms and hints of peach, calling to mind the local vegetation. They have a malolactic hint of butter and a bit of warm toast from barrel aging. The reds, made from Garnatxa Negra (Red Grenache), Carinyena (Carginan), and Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), are different from the powerful full-bodied Priorats down the road, a bit more silky, a touch more elegant.

Like Picasso’s sketches of nearby towns in shadowy Cubist form, Lliberia’s wines reveal a deft hand, a nuanced palette, and the interplay of light and shadow working together to make a harmonious whole.

What to try: Edetària Selecció Blanc (18€), made from 60-year-old vines grown in panal stands out in the region. Made of 100% Garnatxa Blanca, it’s aged eight months in new French oak. And the Via Edetana Negre (11€), a well integrated blend of Garnatxa Fina, Syrah, and a touch of Carinyena, is fresh, full of red fruits, and touches of spice and basalmic after its 12 months in that French oak.

Where to find it: Disset Graus (Carrer Antic de Sant Joan, 3), Topik Restaurant (Carrer de Valencia, 199), and Granja Elena (Passeig Zona Franca, 228)