Feature

Priorat: Spain’s bounce-back wine

Today, wines from the historic Priorat hills of Catalonia are widely recognized for their distinctive flavor.

Just 25 years ago, the historic Priorat hills of Catalonia were “virtually unknown to most of the wine-drinking world,” said Eric Asimov in The New York Times. That’s changed. Today, Priorats are widely recognized for their “distinctive and powerful expressions of a highly unusual terroir.” They also “command some of the highest prices” of any wines from Spain.

One reason for the steep price: the steepness of the area’s “craggy hillsides.” Though wine has been produced in the region since monks took up the trade in the 12th century, Priorat vineyards are difficult to harvest. After they were damaged by a 19th-century blight, many were actually abandoned when farmers migrated to the cities. In the 1970s, a group of “intrepid” producers started planting anew. Their hard work has paid off in such memorable wines as the three below.

2005 Mas La Mola ($36). Though this “dense” wine was the least expensive we tasted, it was also our favorite—for its “rich fruit” and “meaty, mineral flavors.”

2007 Clos Mogador ($77). This “well-balanced” wine from “one of the great names of Priorat” has plenty of “underlying flavors of licorice, earth, and minerals.”

2008 Nit de Nin Porrera Mas d’En Caçador ($85). A wine “noteworthy for its lively energy,” with “savory mineral and dark fruit flavors.”

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