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I am a relative newcomer to this wine region, but we drank almost everything we could find from Priorat in the months preceding our recent trip there. Not only did we visit and taste at some of the top wineries in the region, but we also ordered their wines with our meals, both there and later in Barcelona. In the past, I haven't been much of a fan of wines made primarily from Grenache (Garnacha) or Carignane (Cariñena) except for wines from the Rhone Valley and a couple of Australian Grenaches.

Priorat wineries have really opened my eyes to the potential of these varietals. The old vines Cariñena and Garnacha wines we've tasted have been spicy, rich wines with great depth of berry and dark fruit flavors and the potential to age and improve for more than a decade, some for far longer than that.

The 2005 barrel samples were almost all very impressive. I expect this to be a great vintage, rivalling or surpassing the best of the last 8 years, which is how far back my limited experience goes. The 2004 vintage from bottle also seems to be developing nicely but slowly. I'm finding the 2004s a bit leaner and more closed than the 2005s. I expect the 2005 vintage to be ready before the 2004 vintage. If pressed to rate these vintages now, I'd rate the 2004 vintage a 90 and the 2005 vintage a 95-96.

The first wines of the wineries we visited and others which we tasted were virtually all excellent but what surprised me was the quality and concentration of the second and even third wines.

The Spanish wines I knew of two and three decades ago were a far cry from the Priorat wines of today. I expect Priorat to continue to grow in stature as one of the world's top wine producing regions. Our visit there was one of the great wine trips of our lives.
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The recent upswing in quality from priorat wines rests mostly on the fact that winemakers are finally realizing that MODERN viticultural techniques from vine management to the end product being bottled is key to uniform quality year after year. Years ago there was not half the emphasis there is today on things like which type of oak barrels, racking techniques and the use of stainless steel throughout the aging process. Someday I hope to tour the area.

Actually, I was surprised at the number of wineries that ferment in oak. Alvaro Palacios uses three different fermentation vats- stainless steel, oak, and concrete. Finca Dofi and L'Ermita are fermented only in oak. Les Terrasses gets the three vat treatment. I'm guessing that some of this is still experimental.

I hope you get to tour it also. I'd love to go back.
Last edited by board-o
Yes they are. Any store with a good international selection should have plenty of Priorat wines. The mail order places do to. I know Winex stocks a good number. I got the Vall Llach Embruix from them at a pretty good price ($29). WS scored this a 93. I scored it a little lower for 2 reasons. I think the wine needs time and I've learned more about the Garnacha and Cariñena Priorat interpetations and now appreciate them more.

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