Precious gems of the Priorat wine region

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Priorat DOQ is a prominent Spanish wine region with growing importance and demand, yet relatively low production volumes. Therefore, some aged wine gems from here can be pricey, but definitely are worth it!

So what makes them so special? First, the unique terroir called “llicorella” (means disintegration of the slate), formed by materials of the Palaeozoic between 416 and 318 million years ago. The soils are shallow, have low organic content, so the roots of the vines dig deep in search of water and nutrients. The other factor is a persistent hard work of the winegrowers and winemakers willing to get the best concentrated juice and create a distinctive powerful wine from the local grape varieties.

This spring we were lucky to visit some distinguished wineries situated on the high altitude within the Natural Park Serra de Montsant and surrounded by stunning landscape.

Celler Joan Ametller

Long experience of 7 generations has taught Amettler family to know precisely when to perform a certain vineyard task, and to judge the perfect moment to harvest the grapes at the peak of their ripeness. The Morera de Montsant and Porrera vineyards, spread out at over 2,000 feet above sea level, cultivate Red and White Garnacha and Cariñena (also known as Grenache and Carignan) as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah grape varieties transforming into wines. Another vineyard owned by the winemakers is Mas de Mustardó, this is where the modern and equipped winery is situated.

2Mas de Mustardo vineyards

Our wine tour was held by hospitable Sergio, and included a degustation of all the wine range in a special hall with a spectacular view! It would not be exaggeration to say that we appreciated absolutely all proposed wines, though our favorite ones were definitely  Clos  Mustardo white 2010 and Els Igols red 2004!

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White Clos Mustardo is made from a native Priorat grape Garnacha blanca and fermented in a French oak barrels on its lees during several months. The combination of its power (13.5% alc.) and freshness is impressive. Straw-yellow appearance, heady ripe fruits in the nose and on the palate, following by slight spicy and smoky touch. Long unctuous aftertaste will please you as well!

The red gem Els igols originates from the slope Porrera vineyards. Mainly made from old-vine Garnacha with slight proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. We have tasted vintage 2004, demonstrating intense dark cherry color and powerful but elegant aroma. In the mount you can easily feel mature fruits, round tannins, mineral hints, coffee and creamy accords, some balsamic notes also. Very long, pleasant and a bit sweet aftertaste.

La Conreria d’Scala Dei

The cellar situated in the picturesque village la Morera de Montsant and was established by a group in 1997 and today its annual production counts 85000 bottles, which is a considerable part of DOQ Priorat volumes.Throughout all the history of this winery, the producers keep to the unique style of Priorat region. As the winemaker and co-owner, Jordi Vidal says: “The Priorat is a straightforward culture made of humility and consistency, and Conreria’s wines are following that path.”

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Overall, they produce 4 categories of wines that correspond to the following brands:

 Les Brugueres. This White wine is made from Garnacha blanca and comes from the vineyards “Les Brugueres” and “La Creueta”. Skin maceration, cold fermentation and storage on the lees allow extracting the best from the local grape: yellow straw color, green apple and stone-fruit aromas, freshness and elegant finish.

La Conreria is a perfect blend of Garnacha negra, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and a bit of Cariñena (Carignan),. It undergoes malolactic fermentation and is stored 3 months on its lees before being aged in the bottle at least 4 months. As a result, this wine has notes of a bit jam-kind blackberry and a black current. Being quite tannic develops into prune and chocolate at the end with middle-long aftertaste.

Iugiter.  The blend of Garnacha negra, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cariñena (Carignan) from the vineyards that are more than 15 years old, located in Scala Dei, la Morera del Montsant, Poboleda and Vilella Alta. Maceration-fermentation with the skins lasts for 20 days. It also important to say that wine is first aged in French and American Oak casks for 8 to 14 months and then at least 1 year in the bottle. Complex and balanced symphony of the ripe black fruits with a hint of dried fruits and wood, would characterize this wine – tannic, long lasting, ideal for heavy meat dishes!

Iugiter Selección is also made of Garnacha negra, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cariñena (Carignan), though without Merlot. Grapes originate from “Les Brugueres” and “Coster del Mario” estates. Here the maceration-pissage with the skins takes 28 days and then wine is aged in new French oak casks for 12 to 18 months, following bottle-aging lasts at least 2 years. Dark cherry color, fruit notes with a mineral hint and some sweet spices in the nose. Round tannins on the palate, chocolate and some woody hints.

Our favorites of the tasting are definitely were white Les Brugueres and red Iugiter Selección, but then this choice corresponds our tastes and wine/food parings. All the mentioned wines are worth trying and finding your match!

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Celler Rotllan Torra

Here, near in the village Torroja del Priorat of we had the most stunning views of our trip!

The celler Rotllan Torra is a family owned estate that was established in 1984 by Jordi Rottllan Torra and his family. Today two brothers Jordi and Albert work together, Jordi is responsible for winemaking, while Albert farms the wines. Together they not just sell their wines in Spain but export them to many countries.

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View to the village Torroja del Priorat where the celler Rotllan Torra is situated

When entering the tasting space you can feel this family atmosphere as everything is designed as spacious hall of winemaker’s house.We did not try all the range during our visit, but what we did try, had a unique character of this particular celler and the terroir!

Rotllan Torrra Crianza 2009 is an interesting blend of Garnacha (35%) Carignan (here known as Mazuelo) (35%) and 30% of Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark purple color, bright and fresh aroma of fruits and hint of oak, some spices as vanilla and pepper.  On the palate, it presents elegant soft tannins, developed fruits and spices, oaky and balsamic finish. Long aftertaste and a very good balance overall!

Rotllan Torrra Reserva 2008. Here the blend changes and is 50% of Garnacha,  25% of Mazuelo, 25% of Cabernet Sauvignon.In appearance it is bright ruby garnet colored wine, toasted and spicy notes together with a ripe blueberries and raspberry fruits on the nose compose a wonderful expressive aroma. Integrated toasted and dried black fruits flavors on the palate, well-structured velvet tannins develop a nice long finish. We would recommend this wine with all kinds of game meat (partridge, pheasant, deer, wild boar, etc.) and strong powerful cheeses!

Rotllan Torrra  Gran Reserva 2001. Same blend as for Crianza, but this wine is naturally aged much more: 2 years in the oak barrels and 3 years in the bottle. Cherry-violet deep color, aromas of wild forest berries, also hint of leather and wood in the nose. Full-body palate with structured and balanced tannins expresses toasted ripe notes still with some fruits like dark cherries and blueberries.

It is needed to say that all the classic Rotllan Torra range is bottled into very attractive tall bottle Bordalesa elite (elegant Italian bottle from the color glass) and this fact make the wines even more inviting!

7P.S.: You also can see short, but inspiring video about this trip here: 

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