Spring without spring in Priorat

by  |  01-05-2020

Today would have marked the opening of the Fira del Vi, our annual wine fair here in Priorat. But, like all public events this spring, it was canceled long ago and they’ve scheduled a series of online tastings for the next few days.

I was reminded of this while doing a chat about Priorat last night. Despite this region being a mere 18km from the sea, you’d never know it given how sparsely populated and empty it generally is. The wine fair changes all that as for the weeks before and after, there’s plenty of bustle with the hotels and restaurants full while all the winemakers run excitedly from one event to another. Not having it this year has yet again drilled home the severity of the situation currently, even though there are plans to (prematurely) deescalate the lockdown in Spain.

Officially, the public tasting portion of the fair starts on the first Saturday of May but there are other events that happen on the Friday night before such as the “Tast dels Blancs” (White Wine Tasting) and the “Nit de les Garnatxes” (Grenache Night) leading into what is usually a very lubricated weekend. But, the one I’m really missing this year is “Nit de les Carinyenes” (Carignan Night) that happens in my former village of Porrera. It’s not just a tasting of great wines from a great grape but also a super festive atmosphere and ever since they moved it to be in the church square, the ambiance has been even better, although perhaps it will be event better when it comes to be again in 2021.

And while there are all these public events happening around Priorat, there are more technical ones as well such as the “Tasts del Decenni” (Decade Tastings) where a selection of wines are tasted from 10 years previous to see how they age. What’s even very unfortunate this year is that the focus was to be 2010 which was a great year for the region and was a tasting I’d been looking forward to for some time. Well, I suppose I’ll be looking forward to it even more next year, in 2021.

Losing the fair this year has been extremely unfortunately not only for the joie de vivre of the region but also all businesses dependent upon enotourism activities. I hope they can somehow survive as the region has been on a most excellent upswing in this sense with excellent restaurants and hotels having opened in the last 2-3 years.

One hotel that I really hope stays around is the recently re-opened Cal Compte. It’s a lovely old home in Torroja that was converted into a boutique hotel and each year they hold the Tast del Cal Compte out on the balcony with a view to the mountains. It too, shall wait for 2021 now.

In the near future, it’s worth mentioning that with a lessening of restrictions, winery tasting rooms can in theory accept visitors. On May 11, Scala Dei is on course to re-open although in theory, it can be visited only by people from within a 100km radius. Obviously, in time this will expand and we’ll get back to some kind of new “normal”.

But, until next year, if you’ve never been to the region, watch the Priorat movie to further whet your appetite! Otherwise, see you here in what will hopefully be one short year from now.

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