Anytime I see a wine from the Priorato for under 20 euros, I tend to give it a try. Heck who am I kidding, I usually swipe it off the shelf and head home as quick as possible. The Priorato has a pricing problem, though not without good reason. Located in Catalonia region of Spain, the total land under vines is only 1,820 hectares (4500 acres). In all, only 26 wineries are making wine in this region.
What makes these wineries so special is one of the most unique micro climates in Spain and a soil called Llicorella (yee-cor-e-ya). Made up of alternate layers of slate and quartzite, this soil helps to give the wines of this region a minerality and richness unlike any others. Combine with this with incredibly low yields and you get a style of wine that is rich, powerful and scarce.
Having enjoyed DO status for many years this was the first region, after Rioja, to gain the prestigious DOCa classification in 2003. Since then notoriety has soared with wines like Clos Mogador run by René Barbier and exporters like Christopher Cannan helping to get these precious wines onto the world market.
The grape that makes Priorat what it is, is Granacha, which is followed by a supporting cast of Cariñena and Cabernet Sauvignon for the reds and for the whites, which make up less then 5% of the production, you find Granacha blanca, Macabeo, and Pedro Ximénez. Along with these there are people playing with Chenin Blanc, Syrah and surprisingly Pinot Noir.
Today’s wine is Scala Dei’s Negre, made from 100% Granacha and bottled in a stylish bottle. The wine maker is Jordi Vida who is responsible for some of the most interesting wines I’ve tasted from this area of Spain. So without further ado here is my note from last night:
2003 Scala Dei Priorat Negre – Spain, Catalunya, Priorat (10/19/2005)
- Not as dark as I was expecting it has a light but brilliant reddish purple tinge. Wound up tight, it shows oak on the nose, light vanilla, anise, thought not a lot of fruit right away. Big in the mouth with tons of acid and behind that a bunch of tannin followed by alcohol. For flavors I’m getting some anise, pepper and tart cherry/raspberry. Will come back to in an hour….It’s opened up considerably though it has a long ways to go. Chocolate, pepper, rich blackberry and more still coming. Rich in the mouth, while the nose has opened the palate has a ways to go. Some of the blackberry from the nose is showing on the palate now. Quite a full bodied wine.