Exploring The Wines Of Priorat: A Tasting Journey

The Priorat region, nestled in the rugged terrain of Catalonia in northeastern Spain, is a hidden gem in the world of viticulture, renowned for its powerful and intense red wines. Characterized by its unique llicorella soil—a mix of black slate and quartz—this challenging terrain imparts a distinct minerality and complexity to the grapes grown here. The region’s hot, dry summers and cool nights create an ideal microclimate for cultivating the primary varietals, Garnacha (Grenache) and Cariñena (Carignan), which are the backbone of Priorat wines.

Established as a DOQ (Denominació d’Origen Qualificada, Spain’s highest wine classification) in 2000, Priorat has experienced a remarkable renaissance since the late 20th century, transforming from a forgotten rural area to a producer of some of the most coveted and prestigious wines in Spain. The wines from Priorat are known for their depth, intensity, and ability to age gracefully, embodying a perfect blend of traditional winemaking methods and modern innovation. This rugged, yet beautiful region, with its steep terraced vineyards and small-scale producers, continues to capture the hearts of wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs worldwide.

The Tasting Begins: Mas de l’A – Quars, 2021

The first wine on my list was the white from Mas de l’A. Known as Mas de l’Abundància, this winery is celebrated for its expressive reds and nuanced whites.

The Quars 2021, a White Grenache aged for 10 months in French oak, was an intriguing start. Its bouquet boasted apple, minerals, gooseberry, oak, white flowers, and asparagus. The palate was a symphony of vibrant acidity, with notes of stone fruit, orchard fruit, white peach, fresh lemon, and butter. The finish lingered with citrus fruit, a lovely acidity, and nutty bitter notes.

My rating 4.3 / 5.0.

The Reds of Clos Erasmus

The journey continued with two reds from Clos Erasmus, a winery known for its depth and complexity. The vineyards here are marked by the llicorella soil, enriching the grapes with minerality and concentration. The Garnacha and Syrah varieties, in particular, flourish in these conditions.

Clos Erasmus – Laurel 2021

First of the reds was the Laurel 2021. This blend of 70% Garnacha, 20% Syrah, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon was intense, balanced, and complex. It presented a rich tapestry of red and black fruits, intertwined with subtle oak nuances. The palate revealed a harmonious mix of black and red fruit, smoke, vibrant acidity, and finely woven tannins. This wine was truly a representation of its terroir.

My rating 4.6 / 5.0.

Clos Erasmus 2021

The flagship blend of Clos Erasmus 2021 was next. Comprising 85% Garnacha and 15% Syrah, it was elegant, powerful, and layered. The light, ruby color with pronounced tears was a sight to behold. The nose was an aromatic blend of blackberry, black cherry, vanilla, smoke, and dried herbs. The palate offered black and red currants, stewed fruit, with perfectly integrated tannins and balanced acidity, culminating in a long and satisfying finish. My rating 4.35 / 5.0.

The Verdict

After savoring these wines, I found myself gravitating towards the Laurel. There was something about its roundness, elegance, and the firmness of its tannins that struck a perfect balance, making it a standout in this tasting.

My journey through the wines of Priorat was more than a tasting; it was an exploration of history, terroir, and the art of winemaking. Each wine, with its unique character and story, offered a glimpse into the heart of Priorat. The region’s transformation and the quality of its wines are a testament to the dedication of its winemakers. As I left Priorat behind, I carried with me not just the taste of its wines, but the spirit of a region that continues to enchant wine lovers around the world.

Written by

Bernard Marr has a deep passion for wine. He has written hundreds of articles on wine, including features for Forbes, covering wine-making and industry trends. Away from the world of wine, Bernard is a world-renown business and technology futurist. He is the award winning author of over 20 best-selling books and has a combined audience of nearly 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters.

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