Priorat enjoys a reputation for turning out bold reds, and once again the serious, warm-hearted Albert Pasanau has fashioned an exceptional robust Priorat in his 2012 Pasanau Los Torrents. In classic Priorat fashion, the 2012 Los Torrents exudes a deep purple robe, an amplifying aroma and an intriguing array of explosive flavors to tantalize the senses. Redolent with the scents and savory flavors of ripe mulberries, forest woodlands, graphite, anise and other assorted spices, the 2012 Los Torrents hardly lacks for character. Add 15.5% alcohol for body and plenty of ripe tannins and no one will refute this wine’s extroverted personality. Yet, there is more to the 2012 Los Torrents than mere size and stature. With a bit of aeration, the wine’s youthful ardor coalesces into a seamless stream of complex, deep down flavors that just keep on flowing. With each sip another intriguing flavor emerges to render this Los Torrents positively enthralling. An equal blend of Garnacha (50%) and Mazuelo (50%) from old vines, the 2012 Pasanau Los Torrents is majestic now, but in true Pasanau fashion the 2012 Los Torrents is in for the long haul. You can cellar this wine for 7-8 more years or choose to consume it now happily after an hour or so in a decanter. Enjoy!
Food and wine complement one another, and this is especially true of Albert Pasanau’s robust, flavor-packed 2012 Pasanau Los Torrents Priorat, which positively shines at table. Full-flavored Spanish dishes prepared with lamb or beef make ideal accompaniments to Pasanau’s big boned Priorat. And with the 2012 Los Torrents, one need not be afraid of overpowering the wine with a complex sauce, plenty of garlic, herbs, or spices. Cassoulets, stews, and strong flavorful cheeses such as Epoisse and Manchego make superb companions to Pasanau’s 2012 Los Torrents. Authentic paella made with chicken, pork, shrimp, scallops, and at least a few slices of chorizo sausage is a clear standout in the presence of Pasanau’s robust Priorat. Black beans and rice, spicy steak fajitas and many regional Italian specialties such as Chicken with Black Olives and Capers also make splendid pairings with Albert Pasanau’s majestic 2012 Los Torrents Priorat.
Since the 1990s, the Pasanau family and their beloved Priorat have achieved international fame. Today, Priorat remains Spain’s “hottest” wine producing region, fashioning an increasing number of sensational wines. At the forefront of Priorat’s success has been the Pasanau estate.
Pasanau commands the high ground in Priorat, literally and figuratively. At over 2,400 feet, Pasanau’s Finca La Planeta vineyard, which is devoted entirely to Cabernet Sauvignon, dominates Priorat’s arid, starkly beautiful landscape. Planted on gravelly scree and slate, this 12.5-acre vineyard yields in great vintages one of the most intense and unique of all Priorat wines. The Pasanau estate also includes equally impressive parcels of ancient, un-grafted Garnacha and Mazuelo vines from which Los Torrents, this month’s feature, is fashioned. Unlike Finca La Planeta, Los Torrents is a truly traditional Priorat in that it contains equal parts Garnacha and Mazuelo from very old parcels that face each other across a ravine cut by water running through Priorat’s famous slate soil known as llicorella.
If Pasanau’s acumen with Finca La Planeta and Los Torrents were not enough to seal its place among the finest producers of Priorat, the estate’s Ceps Nous, a delicious contemporary style of Priorat comprised of fruit from younger vines, makes an equally compelling case for Pasanau’s exceptional quality and diversity. Comprised of the region’s traditional grape varietals (Garnacha and Mazuelo) along with healthy dollops of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, Ceps Nous offers a wonderful introduction to Priorat. Small amounts of excellent Viognier are also crafted at this exceptional property.
Working out of a small modern bodega that was completed in 1995, Pasanau fashions some of Spain’s most compelling wines. At Pasanau, grapes are routinely picked quite late, often not until late October, in order to extract the greatest intensity from each low yielding vine. All tanks are gravity fed and racking and fining are done only during a full moon using all natural ingredients, which says quite a bit about this estate’s commitment to excellence as well as its biodynamic practices.
Priorat is a rugged, breathtaking landscape of high mountains and sheep-studded pastures in which every village and hamlet appears steeped in history. Here the first Carthusian Monastery in Spain was founded in the 12th century. And during the 20th century, one of the greatest and most decisive battles of the Spanish Civil War took place in Priorat on the banks of the Ebro River. However, what sets Priorat above other, more familiar wine producing regions is its expanse of ancient, un-grafted vines of Garnacha (Grenache) and Cariñena (also known as Carignan or Mazuelo) to which varying amounts of exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot may be added. What results invariably yields lush, full-bodied, complex red wines. Furthermore, the best wines of Priorat age remarkably well and can compete with the finest wines made anywhere in the world. Not surprisingly then, Priorat is one of only two Spanish wine regions (Rioja is the other) to earn Spain’s much coveted Denominaciones de Origen Calificadas status (aka Denominació d'Origen Qualificada in Catalan, the language of Priorat) in recognition of Priorat’s consistent high quality. Unfortunately, the wines of Priorat have become increasingly pricey; they are presently on average the most expensive of all Spanish wines.
The central part of Priorat, often referred to as Priorat històric, is famous for its llicorella soil, a mixture of brown slate and solid rock. Here all of the Priorat’s premium grape varieties thrive in the dry, continental climate that for all intents and purposes may as well be light years away from the nearby Mediterranean Sea, a mere twenty miles distant. However, nowhere else in Spain do Grenache, Carignan (aka Mazuelo), and Cabernet Sauvignon express themselves with such force and dignity as in Priorat. Consequently, we will be seeing more wines from this privileged appellation, and with good reason: the quality quotient in Priorat is second to no other viticultural area in Spain.
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