Coming from the French word terre for “soil,” the word terroir originally described the special characteristics of a region, or piece of land, which gave different varieties of wine, coffee and tea their individuality. (Soil, climate, position, regional traditions….)

St Joan de les Abadesses is probably not a town one would choose for a holiday break. Quite unprepossessing, and other than the monastery at its centre, there isn’t much to detain the traveller here. But the monastery was what we’d come to see, so we parked up and walked over the gorgeous 15th century Pont Vall, the old bridge over the Ter into the town. It was a promising start — the sun was shining and the river was lined with allotments and willow trees.

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