Priorat…The monster that you want hiding in your cellar

salmosNestled in the rocky hills of the Spanish countryside lies the winemaking region of Priorat.  Known for their rich, robust style, the wines from this progressive region have recently become some of the most sought after amongst those who have more money then they know what to do with.

Priorat wines owe their character to the diligence and expertise of the local wine makers as well as the unique terroirs of the region.  Perched on hillside terraces between 150 and 700 feet above sea level the vines of this region drive their roots into a rocky slate known to the locals as llicorella.  The low level of water retention of the slate soil coupled with the altitude of the plantings, force the vines to push extremely deep into the earth in search of water.  These deeply anchored vines bring many of the soils unique characteristics to the grape, adding a deep earthiness to Priorat wines that is sure to scare off the faint of palette.

Priorat wines are blended wines with the highest percentage of content usually going to the widely planted local favorite, Grenache.  Along with Grenache these wines often have Cabernet Sauvignon, Carinena, Syrah, Merlot and numerous small production blending grapes.

Typically these wines will show rich flavours of roasted espresso, super extracted blackberry, violet and cassis coupled with wet stone and earthy minerality.  After an initial introduction to Priorat wines many drinkers are heard to remark, “That is a Beast!” or “What a monster!”  Poor Priorat, the mythical ogre of the wine world…

Due to the difficult production methods, low yields and their outstanding reputation, many Priorat wines are attached to price tags that have the average consumer breaking into a cold sweat as they uncomfortably shuffle down the aisle towards Rioja.  But fear not, there are Priorat wines that the value conscience consumer can drink.  For around $35 I highly recommend the Torres “Salmos” Priorat.  It is a rare affordable Priorat and has great value while still maintaining the “powerhouse” reputation this region has become synonyms with.

Cheers,

Jeff

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