People often ask us, “Which is the best wine region in Spain” and though we always reply that there are so many good ones in our country, we frequently suggest that they visit the Priorat and Montsant Wine Regions, which have emerged in the last ten years or so as producers of brilliant, rich, glowing and award winning wines.
Some of our favourite wineries in the Priorat are:
Scala Dei, a remarkable winery dating back to the twelfth century which is situated close to the Scala Dei Carthusian monastery, the famous birthplace of Priorat wines. The facilities are located in old buildings of the Carthusians. The aging cellar is a XVII century building, situated in the landmark building in which the procurator of the monastery lived. In the nineteenth century, following Mendizabal’s disentailment of church lands, families the of current owners acquired the lands of the monastery of Scala Dei and became the pioneers of bottling wine in Priorat. Scala Dei (Latin for “Ladder of God”) produces wines of exceptional flavor and depth, such as the famous Scala Dei Cartoixa red, that are among the most critically acclaimed from DOC Priorat. The winery has just recently released to the market their three amazing new exclusive reds, the “three garnachas” from the 2010 vintage – grown on the ancestral vineyards, cultivated by the Scala Dei Carthusian monks – a feast to taste!
Costers del Siurana (sometimes more commonly known as Clos de L’Obac) which is one of Robert Parker’s favourite vineyards and which was awarded one of his highest ratings. The family has built their winery on the Mas D’En Bruno estate that was founded in 1270 and is one of the oldest in Priorat. Recognising an unusual combination of topography, soil and climate, a unique “terroir”, and a one thousand year old wine-making tradition, they started a project to re-awaken the spirit of the old Carthusian oenologists, by rebuilding the steep, slate terraces and replanting the vines. The old vineyard slopes were surveyed, the walls were repaired, the stones were cleared by hand, access paths were built.
The wines from the Clos de l’Obac and Miserere properties and those from the Dolç de l’Obac and Kyrie vineyards are made by a blending method that is based on a system involving the same varieties and percentages of grapes each year, according to the four specific coupages that have been chosen for each of the four wines. The purpose of this method is to assure that each year the characteristics of our continental and Mediterranean climate will be those that define, by contrast, the personality and character of each wine, and not the characteristics of a random blending wine that would be used to adjust the vintage. With this system, regardless of the climatic variants, the challenge is to produce a great wine with each harvest, a wine that reflects the distinguishing traits of the year’s four seasons taken as a whole. The wines now produced at this winery are without doubt top class and clearly their very hard labours have paid off.
Burgos Porta, Mas Sinen, which also has a long tradition of wine making, dating from the XIX century. The present generation, formed by the husband and wife team have specialized in the production of quality organic wines. It is located within the municipal boundaries of Poboleda at Mas Sinén, a stone building dating from the XVII century, surrounded by the family vines. These vines grow at an altitude of between 300-500m, cultivated in terraces and on slopes, with a total area of 15 hectares. The wines are produced under the control of the Consell Català de la Producció Agrària Ecològica (The Catalan Organically Grown Produce Council). Artisan methods have been used to produce these wines, though new technologies are also used to achieve a high-quality product.
Clos Mogador owned by Rene Barbier, one of the founders of the Priorat revolution. This emblematic winery is named after the single vineyard that René started to cultivate in the 1970’s in the now-famous wine village of Gratallops. Robert Parker was one of the first international critics to praise the wines of this incredible winery, which are nearly “elixirs” – the Priorat wines in general are already highly concentrated and “normal” yields are incredibly small, but at Clos Mogador they go even further – they press the grapes using an olive press, which means they extract only half of the amount of juice that a typical wine press would, making the wine 50% more concentrated!
Clos Figueres, a boutique winery owned by Christopher Cannan, a reputed wine merchant from Bordeaux. The property has 18 hectares, of which about 12 are planted with Grenache, Carignan (some over 60 years old) , Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell, Viognier and Chenin Blanc. Experimentally, some strains have been cultivated with Touriga Nacional, since the terrain is similar to the Portuguese Douro. The vineyards are in an area with an exceptional microclimate. Christopher Cannan is also co-owner of the famous Espectacle wine from the neighbouring Montsant district, a 100% Grenache from a 120 years old vineyard. The first vintage in 2004 immediately became a legend when Parker’s review awarded this wine with 99 points!
Enjoy private visits to the above wineries with our customized private Wine Lovers Tour of Spain and Portugal, covering also La Rioja, Ribera Del Duero and Penedes Wine DO Regions in Spain PLUS Portugal and the beautiful Douro Valley and historic Porto.