It’s hard to imagine a more inhospitable climate and a more remote, godforsaken locale than Spain’s Priorat. Nothing but grapes could possibly thrive in such a rugged terrain scoured by gales and mistral like winds, a land set apart from life as most of us know it. Tiny towns, which cleave to Priorat’s precipitous mountains and are inhabited by fewer than a hundred hardy souls, pay testimony to the area’s isolation and add to the region’s desolate feel. In Priorat, unlike Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and most other Spanish wine regions, there are no golden fields of waving grain or long undulating rows of vines stretching as far as the eye can see. So, what makes Priorat so appealing? It’s the region’s high mountain vineyards and dramatic scenery that make this inaccessible part of Catalonia hallowed ground. Nowhere else in Spain does old vine Garnacha and Cariñena produce such dramatic wines – full-bodied beauties – that are often blended with hedonistic dollops of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. What I find so appealing about Priorat are the many variations on the same theme, all with pure natural flavors, simple elegance, rusticity, and warmth. These are high alcohol wines with heart and soul and plenty of sensual appeal. Stay tuned!
- September 10, 2012
- by Don Lahey