Love wines from Rioja? Expand your understanding of Spanish vino and venture to Priorat, a region just south of Barcelona. Wines from Priorat are rough yet sophisticated–as bold as a New World wines, but with the finesse of French Bordeaux.
What are Priorat wines?
- Dark reds. Priorat wines are predominantly red and made from Grenache (Garnacha) and Carignan (Cariñena)
- Blends. No minimum/maximum of any varietal is required by law; therefore, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Pinot Noir are sometimes blended into the wines
- Aged. Wines are labeled Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva
- Crianza: oak-aged a minimum of 6 months, bottle-aged 18 months
- Reserva: oak-aged 12 months, bottle-aged 24 months
- Gran Reserva: oak-aged 24 months, bottle-aged 36 months
- White wines are typically made from White Grenache (Garnacha Blanca), Macabeo, Pedro Ximenez, and Chenin Blanc)
Why drink Priorat?
- Highly acclaimed. Only Priorat and Rioja earn the esteemed Spanish designation DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada)
- Concentrated flavors and aromas. Priorat’s mountainous, rugged, and dry terrain creates difficult growing conditions; this creates stressed, low-yielding vines that produce higher quality grapes and powerful, concentrated wines
- Easy food pairings. The wine’s bold flavors stand up to hearty roasted/spiced dishes and grilled meats, making them surprisingly food-friendly
Drinking and pairing Priorat
The flavors of rich, intense, and inky Priorat wines vary from fruits to savory spices. Look for the following:
- Fruit aromas: red and black plum, cherry, and currant.
- Herbaceous aromas: thyme, tarragon, curry and dill; lavender and violet (which grow wild in the region); occasional cinnamon, mint, and licorice finish
- Mineral: the region’s soils provide minerality and petrichor (the smell of rain after a long period of dry weather)
Rustic dishes that mirror the area’s rugged terrain are perfect pairings for Priorat. Game, roasted vegetables, sausages, and pepper stews stand up to the wine’s tannins. Hearty legume-based vegetarian dishes, such as this Catalan Style Lentil Soup with Picada, hold up well to the wine’s bold aromas and flavors.
The final notes on Priorat
- Rioja is also labeled DOQ (Denominació d’Origen Qualificada in the local language, Catalan)
- Although made in smaller quantities, Priorat rosé and white wines are exceptional
- Remember that difficult growing conditions and lower yields create higher quality wines . . . but also higher prices. Is Priorat worth it? Absolutely.
Reference: Qualified Designation of origin Priorat