RENÉ BARBIER SELON ROBERT PARKER

Espectacle 2012   99 points Photo de la bouteille Almost reaching perfection, the 2012 Espectacle del Montsant is nothing short of spectacular, a worthy follow up to the 2010. I first tasted the wine looking at the vineyard which is as close as it gets to the Hermitage hill or Côte-Rôtie, an amazing terraced amphitheater planted with very old Garnacha vines on chalky soils at higher altitude in Montsant, in the village of La Morera, which might produce the freshest wines of the appellation. The 2012 is amazing, probably the best vintage produced so far. The highly aromatic wine is full of red berries, flowers, spices that are showy and heady; it goes straight to your brain and it stays there. I recorked the bottle and tasted it again a couple of hours later to find that it keeps changing, sometimes showing more floral, sometimes spicier notes that revealed just a lactic hint that denotes youth. The palate is ultra-polished, with incredibly silky tannins and great acidity, showing very lively. This is incredibly balanced and harmonious, the most elegant Montsant I've ever drunk. I tried a second bottle a couple of weeks later and it was as good or even better, so it was not having the wine while looking at the breathtaking vineyard that made my heart beat faster. There is no rush to drink this, but it would be hard to resist it, as it's so hedonistic and beautiful right now. I now wonder what the 2013 is going to be like, and regret not having had the chance to taste it from the foudre... They produce around 5,000 bottles per vintage.   I visited the Espectacle vineyard, which is true to its name, truly spectacular. This is a joint venture between René Barbier from Clos Mogador, importer Christopher Cannan and some other friends. When René saw the vineyard, and once the owner was going to retire, he knew he had to buy it. This is one of those places that when you see them you realize they HAVE to produce great wine. And it does... Clos Mogador 2012   98 points Photo de la bouteille The 2012 Clos Mogador is nothing short of spectacular. They started in 1999 with some Cariñena, and they gradually increased the Garnacha and reduced the Cabernet. 2012 is possibly the vintage of Mogador with less Cabernet, as it didn't behave well in such warm year. René Barbier senior tells me it reminds him of the freshness of the 2000 that he generously uncorked for me to compare; they only have a handful of bottles for the old vintages! The nose of this 2012 is still little reticent but not reduced like many vintages in the past, slowly showing a great Mediterranean-Atlantic balance with notes of herbs, wet slate and graphite. The super-elegant palate offers great acidity and freshness with incredibly layered and delineated flavors that have an electric, mineral sensation with tension and really fine tannins. There are no traces of oak and no edges... rugged silk? This is a Mogador for decades. If this is always a bargain for the quality it delivers, it is even more so in 2012! I had the opportunity to walk the Clos Mogador and Manatees vineyards with proprietor René Barbier, the father of modern Priorat. The focus on getting the soils alive and the careful winemaking of René Barbier Jr. resulted in the best wines they have produced since they started in 1989. Their wines are always carefully priced and represent good value for Priorat. Manyetes 2011   95 points Photo de la bouteille Now a wine of Clos Mogador (it used to be separate project years ago, but it's now fully integrated) and named after the zone of Gratallops where the ancient vines struggle to survive on pure slate soils, the 2011 Manyetes Vi de Vila Gratallops is a great example of how 2011 was a vintage for Cariñena in Priorat. While most of the Garnacha got overripe and showed cooked flavors, the Cariñenas took the heat with style and shows great balance and a restrained personality within the rustic character of the grape. This is the first vintage when Manyetes is 100% Cariñena, as they discarded the Garnacha that used to be part of the blend. It will remain like this and be Cariñena from now on as they have even re-grafted the Garnacha vines to Cariñena. The powerful and full-bodied palate shows great balance, earthy tannins and very good freshness all in great harmony. This is my favorite vintage of Manyetes so far. Well done! René Barbier Jr. thinks this is the best wine he produced in 2011, and I tend to agree. Superb value for the quality it delivers. I had the opportunity to walk the Clos Mogador and Manatees vineyards with proprietor René Barbier, the father of modern Priorat. The focus on getting the soils alive and the careful winemaking of René Barbier Jr. resulted in the best wines they have produced since they started in 1989. Their wines are always carefully priced and represent good value for Priorat. Nelin 2013   94 points Photo de la bouteille The 2013 Nelin was bottled in April 2015, so it has had a much longer élevage than before and they even hope to hold onto the bottles for a few months before selling it. It has a very expressive nose of yellow flowers, pollen, beeswax and quince intermixed with some earthy, clay-like aromas. The palate is more delineated and fresh than the nose hints, great acidity and saline, marine flavors ending salty. It's a very tasty, unusual and nuanced white produced in a different, more oxidative style than the majority of whites nowadays. Just great.     I had the opportunity to walk the Clos Mogador and Manatees vineyards with proprietor René Barbier, the father of modern Priorat. The focus on getting the soils alive and the careful winemaking of René Barbier Jr. resulted in the best wines they have produced since they started in 1989. Their wines are always carefully priced and represent good value for Priorat. Dido 2013   93 points Photo de la bouteille The bright ruby-colored red 2013 Dido is a blend of Garnacha, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon gown by four different grape growers on granite soils in the village of Falset where the winery is located. This is one of the few zones where the soil exists in the Montsant appellation, as you leave Falset and head for Porrera. This vintage has a much higher percentage of Garnacha, and the nose shows it, it feels much more floral, fresh, with no herbal tones even with the Bordeaux grapes in a fresh vintage. There is good complexity, it's earthy and balsamic with some Mediterranean hints but keeping the Atlantic freshness. The texture is silky but has some dusty tannins. The 15 months élevage has polished it and made it open and expressive. This is what they were looking for with the red Dido. The wine matured in a combination of cement vats and used barriques, but there is no trace of oak whatsoever. This is great wine and great value. 61,000 bottles produced. René Barbie Jr. and Sara Pérez keep releasing better and better wines which show great freshness in the cool 2013 and 2014 vintages. They told me this is what they are looking for after turning organic in the vineyards and fine tuning the winemaking. They are now very comfortable with cooler vintages, which they tend to favor over warmer ones. For the first time they are releasing a very different rosé. They believe 2013 is one of their best vintages ever and I concur. 2014 was much more difficult, and required a lot more work.

Julien Beck
Lausanne
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