The Spanish red wine Priorat straddles two worlds. The Catalonian region of Northeast Spain is near the French border, and it shows. Historically, France has heavily influenced the area, and particularly the regions of Bordeaux and Rhone, where blends are the rule.
The wines of Priorat show a duality. Some are decidedly Old World, capturing the Bordeaux influence of moderate alcohol and earthiness. Others tilt toward the New World: bigger, bright and fruitful. Similarly, the producers may use Bordeaux grapes, rely on Spanish grapes or a combination of the two. Priorat produces some white grapes, but I have never seen or tried any white Priorat. You encounter quite a few people from Spain working in French wine cellars and vice versa, a sign of this cross-pollination.
Priorat is small and also fairly new. Winemaking occurred there for centuries, but phylloxera blight and world wars wiped out the industry. A new wine industry emerged from nothing starting in the 1950s, producing bulk wine. It shifted gears to higher-quality wine in the 1980s, taking advantage of the Siurana and Montsant river valleys and the unique volcanic, black slate soil. That “newness” allowed for greater innovation.
Taking its name and packaging from that soil, Slates of Bonmont Priorat 2017 blends merlot, garnacha, cabernet sauvignon, syrah and carignan into a modern style of ripe blackberry and richness with hints of cocoa and vanilla and prominent but soft tannins. $14. HHHH 1/2
Vega Escal 2017 Priorat smells of charcoal, ripe blackberry and boysenberry. Richly textured and smoothed out with age, this is a real Priorat mashup of equal parts merlot, garnacha, cabernet sauvignon, and some cariñena and syrah. $22. HHHH
Clos Corriol 2018 Negre is a modern, light red, fruity wine with cranberry and cassis with graphic and floral notes. $17. HHHH
GRADE: Exceptional HHHHH, Above average HHHH, Good HHH, Below average HH, Poor H
DAVID FALCHEK, executive director of the American Wine Society, reviews wines each week.
GRADE: Exceptional HHHHH, above average HHHH, Good HHH, Below average HH, Poor H
DAVID FALCHEK, executive director of the american Wine Society, reviews wines each week.
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