In partnership with ARAEX GrandsEverything to know about the Priorat region...
In partnership with ARAEX Grands
Climate: Long hot summers with little rainfall, making it ideal for ripening Garnacha and Carinena.
Soils: Called ‘Ilicorella’, a red slate soil, with small bits of ‘mica’. This soil helps to reflect and conserve the heat.
While there are only two Spanish wine regions with the exalted “quality” DO certification, it’s Spanish wine juggernaut, Rioja that generally takes the majority of the spotlight from the much smaller Priorat.
While wine is thought to have been produced in the region since Roman times, what we recognise as the more familiar style of winemaking is generally credited to the arrival of monks from the Chartreuse Order in France, in the 12th century.
With a steady increase in terms of production and quality through to the 19th century, phylloxera’s arrival in 1890 was devastating and it wasn’t until several people with a mind to create clean, barrel-aged wines starting in the 1970s that fortunes changed for the region.
The 1989 “Clos” vintage is largely credited as being what brought Priorat back into the international wine spotlight given that influential wine critics at the time rated it and successive vintages quite highly.
Local families started their own cellars throughout the 1990s in a Second Wave, which overall led to the collapse of the old village cooperative wineries from the early 20th century in the name of producing even higher quality wines. It has been on an upward swing ever since, despite stumbles during the 2008-09 financial crisis.
The twelve ‘vins de vila’ (see map below) are designated areas for growing grapes within the DOQ Priorat, which producers can label their wines with. This system was established in 2009.
The wines, once known for their full-bodied strength coming from Grenache and Carignan have changed markedly in recent years. Despite alcohol levels in wine the world over rising due to climate change, there has been a huge pull back in oak profile and grape hang time to create fresher and more immediately approachable wines with fewer French grapes in the blends.
What many consider to be Priorat’s ‘Third Wave’ (in just 40 years of recent winemaking history) has shown that the wineries can adapt and change while staying true what defines this as one of Spain’s highest-quality regions.