This year's Decanter World Wine Awards Regional Trophy for Red Catalunya over £15 went to Scala Dei, Cartoixa, Priorat 2007 (15%)

Tasted against:

  • Ferrer Bobet, Vinyes Velles, Priorat 2011

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It was more than 800 years ago that Carthusian monks, while building their monastery, first forced vines into Priorat’s slate-rich, volcanic soil – or llicorella as it’s known locally. Centuries later, in 1835, four families from Barcelona took advantage of the government’s then policy of selling church land to generate funds, and bought the Scala Dei estate. Today it is run by Cava giant Codorníu, whose own history dates back to the mid-1500s.

The winemaker is Priorat-born Ricard Rofes, who joined Scala Dei in 2007, after previously working at Masroig, Portal del Montsant and Portal del Priorat. He says this Trophy winner represents ‘the landscape of Scala Dei put into a bottle’ – that landscape being a combination of the powerful, slate soil that delivers the wines’ colour, concentration and minerality, but also the freshness, elegance and finesse that can be harnessed from Garnacha grapes grown at high altitude.

‘We are located at the highest place in Priorat,’ Rofes explains. ‘Our 41 vineyards go from 450m to 800m. This altitude allows us to escape the heat of summer, plus we have a slower ripening period. Also a key factor is our soil; Priorat is well known for its slate soil, but at Scala Dei we also have limestone and red clay. The combination of red clay and high altitude gives us fresh, powerful and rich Garnachas that are truly unique.’

Written by Decanter