Taking a balanced look at the Priorats

Whether viewing it as a yolk and its white or a donut and its hole, it’s hard not to see DOQ Priorat and DO Montsant closely linked given that the latter wraps nearly completely around the former. Indeed, nestled within the confines of Priorat County (well okay and a little bit of Ribera d’Ebre), these two winemaking regions share a great deal in common. They also share a great many differences and one of the more commonly assumed differences are the prices. It’s true that overall, the wines of Priorat are more expensive than the wines of Montsant but when looking at individual wineries, you see a much different picture emerge. So, given that the annual Fira del Vi weekend recently passed in Falset, I feel it’s time to look one wine from each appellation that blow away a lot of the stereotypes.

Celler de l’Encastell – Marge 2013
This cellar in the village of Porrera and while Marge (meaning terrace wall in Catalan) is the cellar’s introductory wine, this vintage is flat-out fantastic. Rich, red forest fruits, vanilla cream, wild herbs, and crushed, fresh slate. Alcohol runs a touch high in the body but with big fruits, full tannins, and very healthy acidity that carries through the long finish.

Grenache, Merlot, Cab Sauvignon, Carignan, Syrah 15% 16€

Celler Comunica – La Peluda 2014
While renting space for some time at another cellar, the co-owners of this project were finally able to establish their own digs in 2014 (more here.) At the same time, they’ve released some new wines such as this one from Garnatxa Peluda or ‘hairy’ Grenache. Rich ruby color, red fruits in the nose with a touch of chocolate, stony granite, and floral violet notes. Light and balanced in the body with lively fruit in the mid-palate as well as the lingering finish.

100% Hairy Grenache 14% 17€
*** Q

This was originally printed on my Barcelona Metropolitan column but is presented here in its full length.