If you’re looking for a prime example of heroic viticulture, Priorat would be at the top of the list. A terraced landscape with soaring slopes of old bush vines provide the backdrop for some of the most heralded wines in all of Spain.
Named by Carthusian monks in the 12th century, this celestial ladder to the creator has proven to be a perfect terruño for outstanding wines. These monks created the dramatic costers (terraces) which contour the hillsides, necessary for farming the vines. Mechanization is near impossible, so pruning and harvesting must be done by human hands.
The climate is Mediterranean - dry, warm and sun-filled. The Montsant mountain range to the north gives protection from harsh winds. While the bedrock of schist allows access to water so vital for the vines, llicorella (licorice-colored) soils provide the minerality. The contrasting selection of soils with varying altitudes and exposures makes for singular wines. Given the diversity of the land, all of these factors have a hand in what makes low yielding grapes from the Priorat so concentrated, tiny, and compact.
After phylloxera wiped out the majority of vines, it wasn’t until the 1950s that small families started to recuperate small plots with native varietals carinyena and garnacha. In the 1980s, a few visionary winemakers focused their attention on creating terroir driven wines, and the wine world took notice. In 2006, Priorat was awarded a qualified designation of origin status (DOQ) which includes 12 villages.
The new millennium ushered another era with a fresh approach, as winemakers revived family wineries and old vineyards. For some this was an inherited obligation, for all it was a deep passion.
While Priorat is a land for structured, powerful red wines with long aging potential, a small percentage of whites are now being made, in addition to international varieties being planted. The use of French oak barrels adds fullness and spiciness to the wine.
The reds sport an inky color and rich texture. Warm, Mediterranean breezes carrying the aromas of garrigue - rosemary, sage, and oregano with rich red and black fruits, baking spice and menthol. The white wines are bold and slightly nutty, saline, earthy, herbal and mineral.