Wines of Priorat, Spain

Geography & Climate

Situates on the lower western corner of Catalunia west of Penedes, Priorat is a rather small region; most vineyards are planted on steep slopes around the district of Monstant.  For a long time, only horses, mule and human can work such vineyards, no mechanical means can navigate such slippery slopes.

Climate here is dry and could get very warm which helps produce intense and powerful red wines.  Vineyards are found at high altitude, some reaching 3000 feet above sea level.  Soil consists of chiseled slates and rocks.  Black soil, locally known as llicorella, is a unique character of Priorat.

Spain wine map

Viticulture

Carinena has long been an essential varietal in many blends of Southern Rhone, France. Outside of it, it’s rarely seen of any significance unless it’s from Priorat.  Granacha and Carinena dominate in many Priorat red blends, although recent blends have seen an increase in international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah and with lesser amount of Carinena.

Varietals:

Red: Granacha, Carinena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo

White: Granacha Blanca, Maccabeo, Parellada, Chenin Blanc and Viognier

HG Priorat 2008Wine-making

Just more than a decade ago, Priorat was never heard of outside of Spain; wines from this region were mainly very inexpensive jug-wine, sold in large boxes.  Surprisingly, Priorat is one of the only two regions with the highest designation of quality in all of Spain, the DOQ (Denominació d’Origen Qualificada).  Rioja was the other more deserving region.

In the last two decades, no region in Spain has experienced such drastic transformation; Priorat quickly banished away from jug-wine production and was going after quality.  Nowadays, some of the best Priorat wines can comfortably fetch a few hundred dollars.  Wines of Priorat are quite different than those from Rioja, French influence is obvious in the area, such as the use of French Oak and labeling “Clos” -a concept of enclosed vineyards usually by protected by stonewalls.

Thomas Le, CS.

 

 

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Thomas Le

-Certified Sommelier (CMS)

Napa Reserva -Falling for wine, one sip at a time. TM

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