October 1, 2015
The Denominació d’Origen Qualificada Priorat is a small mountainous region located in the heart of the province of Tarragona in Catalonia, Spain. Priorat is named after the priory established here in the hills above Tarragona by Carthusians who arrived from Provence in the 12th century, possibly bringing Garnacha (Grenache) vines with them. This small appellation (1,887 hectares planted) is the homeland for some of Spain’s most expensive and internationally renowned wines. The list that follows shows a number of world-class producers well worth seeking out. Tasting through these benchmark wines will give you an advanced and constructive insight into the classic taste of all the area and the characteristics of their different terroirs.
Álvaro Palacios: The iconic, world-celebrated Álvaro produces the most expensive wine in the region “L’Ermita” from a northeast-facing Garnacha vineyard on well-drained schist that had been planted between 1900 and 1940. Also look out for his outstanding second “Finca Dofi.”
Cims de Porrera: Vineyards sit on the steep, rocky slopes above the village of Porrera at an altitude of 400 to 600 meters, in one of the most distinctive micro-terroirs in the whole region. This state was founded in the late 1980s, their “Classic” is a textbook example.
Cellers Scala Dei: From 1840, one of the oldest wineries in the D.O. Above all, their trio of limited high-end Garnachas grown in different soils. If ever visit the winery, try to convince them to pull a bottle of their ‘74 or ‘75 to know what the first ‘modern’ priorats taste like today.
Clos Erasmus: Daphne Glorian belongs to the select group of pioneers who rediscovered Priorat in the late 1980s. She has since been making one of the true trophy wines in the appellation, her boutique estate of 10 hectares barely produces 140 cases each year.
Clos Mogador René Barbier is considered by many the founder father of the new Priorat wines. His son René Junior has long been responsible for the international reputation of their cult wine “Clos Mogador,” a concentrated wine capable of ageing beautifully.
Ferrer Bobet: A relatively newcomer project with a state-of-the-art winery, the duo Sergi Ferrer and Raül Bobet are producing some of the most exciting wines in the region with a clear terroir-embracing philosophy. A very pure expression from one of the coolest sites in the appellation.
Mas Doix: Juan Extrems Doix made wines in Poboleda in the 19th century that won awards in Paris and Barcelona, his descendants founded the current winery in 1998. There is the archetypal “Doix” and the rare “1902” which is produced from vines of Carignane that were planted in that year.
Mas Martinet: Founded by José Luis Pérez, another legendary winemaker, and now passionately run by his characterful daughter Sara, Mas Martinet has been producing terroir-driven wines for over 25 years. “Els Escurçons” and “Camí Pesseroles” are two of her limited productions.
Terroir Al Limit: Dominik Hubre started his project in 2004. He has revolutionized the region with his unparalleled “Burgundian” approach in the cellar based on stems use, inert tanks and large foudres. His idea is to produce wines that are less ripe, less extracted and more fresh and transparent.
Vall-Llach: A very prominent state famous for their full-bodied style wines from very low-yield productions. Their “Mas de la Rosa” is one of the only two wines in the entire appellation to bear the super-strict, highest-quality “Vi de Finca” category.