A small wine-growing region in the province of Catalonia, with its capital situated in the small village of Gratallops, Priorat is located just 40 kilometers west of Tarragona. Wine produced in this unique appellation is considered alongside Rioja and Ribera del Duero as one of the 3 must-haves from Spain.
The wine history of Priorat dates back to the 12th century, when the vineyards of the region were managed by the Carthusian monks of the Escaladei Monastery. While the region is currently experiencing great success for the quality of its wines, back in the 1970s the production area of Priorat was limited to only 600 hectares of vines. Today, the prestigious appellation covers an area of 17,629 hectares, including 1,887 hectares of vineyards, distributed among 600 wine producers. The Priorat appellation was first defined in 1932 and became a DO in 1954. In 2000, the appellation was recognized as a DOC (Denominacion de Origen Calificada), referred to as a DOQ in the local Catalan.
The revival of the region in the 1990’s was brought about by two pioneer winemakers. Rene Barbier Ferrer and his family founded the famous Clos Mogador estate in 1979. He brought the wines of this region into the international spotlight with the help of Alvaro Palacios, the talented winemaker who created the legendary "L'Ermita," in tribute to a chapel overlooking the vineyards.
Truly a sight to behold, the Priorat wine region is carved out by narrow valleys and hills at altitudes between 200 and 1,000 meters. The vines are planted on steep, terraced slopes in soils dominated by the typical slate schist of the region, llicorella. The challenging landscapes makes impossible all mechanical vineyard practices, resulting in very low yields.
The DOQ Priorat appellation is known for its exceptional wines, made from native grape varieties and vineyards planted with very old vines. The red wines are primarily made with Garnatxa (Grenache), along with Carignan (locally called Samsó or Carinyena), Tempranillo (locally known as Ull de Llebre) and Picapoll negre. Several international red wine grapes are also planted, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot noir, Merlot and Syrah.
In terms of white grapes, Priorat cultivates traditional grape varieties (Macabeo, Pedro Ximénez, Pansal, and white Picapoll) and more common Mediterranean varieties (white Grenache, Chenin, Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat à petits grains and Viognier).
Testaments to a terroir with a bold identity, the wines of Priorat wholly express the unique character of their region. With their dark, highly pigmented color, powerful, warm and very concentrated aromas of blackcurrant and licorice, the red wines evolve complex aromas as they age. On the palate, these wines offer a dense and full-bodied texture upon pleasantly velvety tannins. Bearing an enormous potential for aging, the wines of Priorat can be kept in the cellar for several decades, evolving superbly over time.