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Priorat Wines


General information on Priorat and Montsant wines

Priorat and Montsant are wine regions situated in the province of Tarragona, in the southwest of Catalonia, Spain. In recent years, both regions have developed spectacularly, and their reds now figure amongst the most expensive and sought-after wines in Spain.

Priorat wines qualify as DOCa – the...


General information on Priorat and Montsant wines

Priorat and Montsant are wine regions situated in the province of Tarragona, in the southwest of Catalonia, Spain. In recent years, both regions have developed spectacularly, and their reds now figure amongst the most expensive and sought-after wines in Spain.

Priorat wines qualify as DOCa – the highest qualification level for a wine region in Spain. Rioja DOCa is the only other region in Spain to achieve this qualification. Priorat is renowned for producing high quality wines, full of minerality, fresh and fruity – wines for the body and mind!

Montsant wines qualify as DO. This was approved at a regional level in 2002 and the area has experienced rapid growth since then with over 55 official cellars. Montsant is renowned for producing fresher and fruitier red wines than Priorat.

History of wine production in Priorat and Montsant

The Cartoixa (Carthusian Monastery) of Scala Dei is where wine and winemaking was introduced in this region. The Carthusian monks came to the region from Provence in France in the 12th century and brought with them their knowledge and techniques to develop a winegrowing culture. The monks tended the vineyards until 1835 when they were expropriated by the state and their lands distributed to smallholders.

At the end of the 19th century there was the phylloxera epidemic, which devastated the vineyards and was an economic disaster for the region. In addition to the epidemic, the explosion of the textile industry in Catalonia ensured that the entire workforce moved to the cities and new vines were not planted again until the 1950s.

Much of the redevelopment of the region has been credited to a group of enthusiastic winemakers including René Barbier, Alvaro Palacios, Josep Lluis Perez, Daphne Glorian and Carles Pastrana. Winemaker René Barbier was convinced of the region’s potential and bought his first land to plant vineyards in 1979. He convinced the others to follow suit and plant new vineyards in suitable locations. In 1989 and for three vintages the group of five wineries pooled their grapes and made one wine under five labels : Clos Mogador, Clos Dofi, Clos Erasmus, Clos Martinet and Clos de l’Obac. From 1992, these wines were made completely separately. This group of winemakers have been recognised for producing high quality wines and placing this small region on the world wine map.

Geography

Priorat is a wine region situated in the province of Tarragona, in the southwest of Catalonia, Spain. It covers a small area, less than 20’000 hectares, of which just 2’000 are planted with vines. 12 towns make up the DOQ Priorat: Bellmunt del Priorat, Gratallops, el Lloar, la Morera de Montsant, Porrera, Poboleda, Scala Dei, Torroja del Priorat, la Vilella Alta and la Vilella Baixa, and the grape growing zones of Masos de Falset and Solanes del Molar.

Montsant wine region forms a horseshoe around Priorat and almost completely encompasses it in a full circle. The denomination covers part of Priorat as well as part of Ribera d’Ebre – in total 17 villages are included. It covers an area of 1,900 hectares.

Viticulture

Priorat
The region is mountainous and is made up of steep slopes and spectacular countryside. The terrain is very abrupt, and it is wondered how vines can grow there - the vineyards are planted on the steep slopes on terraces built specifically, at altitudes of between 100m and 700m above sea level. This makes wine growing hard, demanding and costly. The soil is rich in slate with layers of powdered clay in between. There are several different microclimates present as the area is surrounded by the Montsant mountain range.

This all results in low yields compared to other wine growing regions, which rarely exceed 2,000 kilos per hectare.

Montsant
The vineyards are found on the steep slopes of the Montsant mountains, around 200m and 700m above sea level. There are three main soil types: chalky clay, granitic sand and slate. Although located close to the Mediterranean Sea, the surrounding mountains isolate it somewhat from the sea giving it more of a continental climate.

TAll the above characteristics allow the regions to yield exceptional grapes which, in the hands of their dedicated winemakers, are transformed into wines renowned all over the world for their strong character and extraordinary complexity.

In a very short period of time, the wines of Priorat and Montsant have managed to earn the respect and admiration of leading experts all over the world for their quality and strong personality.


Discover the different red grape varieties and appellations

Priorat
The most well known native red grape varieties are Grenache and Carnigan. Also permitted are the following red varieties: Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah.

The traditional reds are a varietal bottling of Grenache or Carignan, or blending of these two grapes in a Bordeaux style with other French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Syrah, among others.

Montsant
The permitted red grape varieties are Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Grenache is the most planted grape, producing rich, full-bodied, high alcohol wine.


White grape varieties and appellations

Priorat
The permitted white grape varieties are white Grenache, Macabeu, Pedro Ximénez, Chenin Blanc, Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Xarello and Piquepoul.

Montsant
The permitted white grape varieties are white Grenache, Macabeu, Chardonnay, Muscat of Alexandria and Cartoixa.


The main producers in Priorat and Montsant


Alfavin.ch is proud to work with some of the best producers of Priorat:

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