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).