This month - February 2021 - the World Wine Travel group is exploring the wines of Catalonia, Spain. Between reds, whites, and Cavas coming from this corner of Spain, there's a vast variety of wines to choose from for any occasion and we had a field day deciding on a wine for this review before ultimately settling on a unique wine from an equally unique part of Catalonia. See the overview in host Susannah's preview post and join us on Twitter under #WorldWineTravel on 27 February 2021 at 8 AM PST to talk about all things Catalan wine.
CATALONIA (CATALUNYA) + PRIORAT
|Image: Catalonia, Spain. indigowine.com|
Catalonia is in the northeast corner of Spain bordering France to the north and the Mediterranean sea to the east. There are four Catalonian provinces, of which Barcelona might be the most readily known globally.
Priorat is in Tarragona province in southwest Catalonia, however, and is a Denominació d'Origen Qualificada (DOQ) for Catalan wines produced in Priorat county. The DOQ covers 11 municipalities that primarily produce intense, full-bodied red wines, and was relatively obscure to the wine world until the 1990s.
Priorat DOQ includes the valleys of the rivers Siurana and Montsant, and vineyards are planted on terraced slopes at altitudes between 100m and 700m above sea level. Priorat summers are long, hot and dry while winters are cold with occasional frost, hailstones, and drought. The area is characterised by its unique terroir of volcanic soil comprising black slate and quartz, known as llicorella.
The traditional grape variety grown in Priorat is Grenache, found in all the older vineyards. Amongst other red varietals allowed are: Garnacha Peluda, Carignan (or Samsó), Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. White varieties allowed are: Garnacha blanca, Macabeo, Pedro Ximénez, Chenin Blanc, Moscatel de Alejandría, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Pansal, Picapoll Blanco, and Viognier.
Along with Rioja DOCa, Priorat is one of only two wine regions in Spain to qualify as DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada), the highest qualification level for a wine region within Spanish wine regulations. Priorat wines are absolutely worth the effort and price but can also offer terrific QPR!
CLOS I TERRASSES
As James Russell Lowell said, "Fate loves the fearless". In 1988 a young Daphne Glorian, along with René Barbier, Álvaro Palacios, Carles Pastrana, and Josep Lluís Pérez pooled resources to purchase 17 terraces of vines situated ~400m above sea level in a wooded hollow just outside the village of Gratallops in Priorat, Spain, a rugged and wild region rich in history, poor in soil, and largely unknown outside Catalonia.
Fast forward to today, when Daphne's wines have evolved to become some of the most sought-after references for the Priorat region and some of the most desired wines in the world. Since 2004 all of the Clos I Terrasses vineyards are certified organic with biodynamic practices.
2015 Clos I Terrasses "Laurel"
80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon15% ABV | SRP $45
Sourced from 3 small vineyards in Gratallops and aged in amphorae and oak, Laurel is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is Clos I Terrasses’ second wine (the first and most well known being Clos Erasmus), made from the grapes from younger vines, or the occasional declassified barrel of Clos Erasmus. Nevertheless, it is a dense, concentrated Priorat wine with tremendous aging potential and perhaps it is inaccurate to call it a second wine because it really is in its own league.
Black and red fruit, cassis, liquorice/fennel, tobacco, graphite, ink/iodine, leather, cloves, bay leaf, pepper. Somewhat medicinal.
Palate:This is a delicious - although untraditional - Priorat wine with a layered aromatic complexity and an unctuous mouthfeel. The same notes on the palate as on the nose, a bit more obviously medicinal and graphite laden. Full body, balanced acidity, grippy tannins that soften after ~30 min, med-long finish. An elegant, structured rich wine that begs for robust food.
THE WINE + FOOD
inocchiona, a Tuscan fennel-studded variety, Idiazabal, Manchego, and Gabietou cheeses, papas arrugadas, and a refreshing herby mojo verde. The charcuterie and the cheeses certainly were perfect with the wine but the salt-crusted papas arrugadas and mojo were outstanding! The fruit and inky fennel notes in the wine worked marvellously with the finicchiona and the bright mojo. We have another bottle that we'll hold for a few more years to see how it develops. Another splendid wine from Clos Erasmus, and a must for Priorat red lovers!
Also check out these blog posts and be inspired by what the rest of us sipped and savoured:
- Allison and Chris from Advinetures look at “Cava: Spain’s Answer to Champagne”
- Andrea from The Quirky Cork enjoys “Tapas with Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava”
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Pollo a la Catalana + Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2019”
- David from Cooking Chat shines with “Mushroom Fricassee and Red Wine from Priorat”
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator brings “Sparkling Wine Secrets: Catalonia Cava from Marqués de Cáceres with Spanish Chorizo Kale Bean Stew”
- Jeff from Food Wine Click looks at “Exploring the Variety of Still Wines from Catalunya”
- Linda from My Full Wine Glass showcases “Pere Mata Cupada Rosé Cava: Finesse in a glass”
- Lynn from Savor the Harvest posts “Beyond Cava: Loxarel and Gramona Organic Sparkling Wines”
- Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog shares “A Taste of Can Descregut; Grower Spanish Sparkling Wine From The Corazón del Penedès”
- Melanie from Wining With Mel muses about “Innovative winemaking in Catalunya’s Penedès: Torres Gran Coronas Reserva”
- Nicole from SommsTable pens “On a Hilltop in Priorat”
- Payal from Keep The Peas joins with “Bartender’s Choice from Priorat”
- Pinny from Chinese Food And Wine Pairing writes about “Enjoying Cavas of Different Price Points”
- Robin from Crushed Grape Chronicles focuses on “Priorat DOQ in Spain’s Cataluña region and Franck Massard’s 2015 “Humilitat”
- Steve from Children of the Grape describes “Cava by the Sea”
- Susannah from Avvinare.com thinks about “Two Key Areas in Catalonia Wine Scene: Cava and Priorat”
- Terri from Our Good Life dishes about “Chicken Empanadas and Azimut Cava”
- Wendy from A Day In The Life On The Farm adds “Enjoying Tapas with Spanish Wines from Catalonia”