Tuesday, 6 May 2014
Priorat is a small area in Catalonia, a county where two different Designations of Origin coexist: Priorat and Montsant, really very close but different.
A key aspect is the soil: the basis of the Priorat soil is the slate (called llicorella in Catalan) with traces of mica and the steep slopes. The main consequence is that the roots of the vines need to reach the ground-water table because the slate doesn’t retain the water.
In this region, the vineyards are at different altitudes, from the 200 m the lowest point up to 750 m above the sea level in places like Porrera, which can make a big difference between the vines and grapes.
Also, the climate is important: summer is a long season, hot and dry with great contrasts of temperature, which can change from the 35-40ºC during the day to the 15ºC or less at night. The winter is really cold in this area.
So, the soil, the height and the climate determine a charming landscape which captivates you.
The result of all these distinguishing marks are young wines, deeply coloured, brilliant with persistent and serene aromas and on the palate are chewy and full-bodied, with a long aftertaste. Often these wines have a high alcohol content (between 14% and 15% abv), but with a well integrated tannins and very well balanced.
The criança and reserve wines are aged in oak barrels smoothing away any aggressive notes due to their youth. In this way, they obtain a complexity that only can be perceived through taste and smell.
In the Priorat Designation of Origin you can find different kinds of wines depending on where are they from: Single State Vineyard and vi de vila that we can translate as “wine of the village” because the difference between villages (specially their geography and soil) make a big difference to the wines). Both are precisions of some Priorat wines (in this video http://vimeo.com/23003431 Álvaro Palacios, Daphne Glorian and also René Barbier explain it very well... but in Spanish).
Saturday, 29 March 2014
The wine fairs are a meeting again with friends and winemakers, and also a good pretext to visit lovely places from the Catalan geography.
The shorter days make us realise that winter is arriving and is a signal that the wine fair season is upon us.
One of the last wine fairs is Tasta Porrera (Taste Porrera),from which are wines made in this little village from Priorat: with around 500 habitants and 16 cellars. Porrera is the lowest village in the Priorat and also it’s the village with the highest vineyards because it’s surrounded by mountain ranges at 600 m above the sea level, and 700 m and more of 800 m.
When you go to Porrera and leave the main route, you realise that all that you can see in the landscape are vineyards, hazelnut and almond trees which grow in steep slopes. You realise that Porrera is basically an agricultural village. And you can imagine the harvest as a risky activity! In spite of it, the beauty of the area charms everyone, and when after a narrow route full of curves you arrive at Porrera and walk in the narrow streets you feel that you would like to live there!
In the main square of the village on the Saturday of the second weekend of November there is the Tasta Porrera (Taste Porrera), and enogastronomic fair because also you can taste specialties of the local cuisine. And this year it was the 10th anniversary of the death of a great Catalan poet, Miquel Martí i Pol, so as this was a special occasion the wines of each cellar were combined with a poem of his.
This fair has again confirmed to me that wines from Priorat (and in this particular case the wines from Porrera) have a special characteristic that make it different of the wines from other Appelation of Origin, because of their particular soil: the slate (llicorella in Catalan).
Priorat is a well-known area for red wines, most of their production is red wine (90%), but the white wines are a little treasure. If you have the opportunity, you should taste a white wine from Priorat, they are incredibly delicious.
In Tasta Porrera we had the opportunity to taste two white wines: Lo coster blanc 2012, with a very limited production (less than 500 bottles!) and Mas d’en Compte blanc 2009, one of my favourites and fleshier than the first one. It was a great pleasure taste these wines!