Priorat is a Spanish wine growing region that doesn't pop up that much on the radar of most casual consumers. The small rugged Catalonian valley was long known for the Scala Dei monastery (or priory, called Priorato in Spanish), with vines barely hanging onto the loose rocky soils and uneven slopes. The potential here was largely untapped until the late 1980s when a group of winemakers collectively invested in developing some of the oldest properties into modern success stories. These 'Gratallops Pioneers' raised the reputation of the region tremendously, as well as the price pouints for their wines, and because it's such a difficult area there really is no way for there to be plantings for inexpensive wines. The Black Slate bottlings are the rare exception, thanks to importer Eric Solomon who was among the very first to investigate and export wines from Priorat (even marrying one of the original Gratallops Pioneers). Using his connections and continuous presence here they have been able to assemble several bottlings named for the nearby towns that represent the appellation's terroirs, in much the same way you would in Burgundy making a Meursault or Volnay wine. Sourced from vineyards around the original Scala Dei monastery, this bottling is traditionally dominated by Grenache with a decent portion of Cabernet Sauvignon and older vine Carignan, making the more elegant of the four bottlings. 'Elegant' being a relative term, of course. Currant, raspberry and cherry skin aromas with a bit of black tar and earth in the background, very Rhone-like (not surprising) but with a bit of Spanish wildness. Fleshy and bold on the palate but with more bright red fruit appearing than is on the nose, even bright and surprisingly refreshing with any oak presence exceptionally well integrated at this stage. A great value for the region as are all the bottling in the project, great to feature with any hearty meals this season.
The Best of the Best.
We offering free tastings on these wines in the store every Thursday and Friday, and a 10% discount off the retail price through the duration of the day. Come on by and give them a try!