Miguel Torres, Salmos DOCa Priorat, Catalonia, Spain, 2007
Priorat is one of the two DOCa in Spain, the other being Rioja. The hill-top town of Gratalops is the centre of quality Priorat wine production. The vineyard is sufficiently inland, 15-30kms from the Mediterranean coast, at an altitude of 200-700m, to have a continental climate, ranging from -6C in winter to 35C+ in summer, with about 3000 hours of sun.
These are mountainous terroirs, with terraced plantings on steep slopes, with an underlying bedrock of schist, with llicorella topsoil – reddish slate and mica, through which the vine roots are able to penetrate to 10-20m in search of water.
Varieties planted include grenache (mainly), carignan, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah; there are also whites of grenache blanc, macabeo (viura) pedro ximenez and chenin blanc. Vines are pruned traditional en vaso, with some double cordon. The maximum permitted yield is 42hl/ha, but owing to the typically very old vines, only around 5hl/ha is achieved.
Production is almost wholly red (with some white and rose), from joven to gran riserva. Ageing requirements in years [oak, bottle], are for crianza [1, 1], riserva [1, 2], and gran riserva [2, 4]. Wines are very concentrated, intensely flavoured, with alcohol from 14-18% abv.
The best Priorats need 8-15 years ageing to show their best, and can last much longer, but can be drunk young, with pleasure, at 5 years – but always decant. Top bottles are expensive, but the Priorat style can be had at around £15, though quality is variable.
Top producers include Clos Mogador (Rene Barbier – who led the post civil war revival of Priorat in the 1980s) and Alvaro Palacios.
This wine – a blend of carignan, grenache and syrah; natural cork closure, 15% abv, about £19
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, deep intensity ruby, showing tears.
Nose: clean on the nose, of pronounced intensity, fully developed, with slighty high-toned aromas of very ripe jammy fruits – blackberry, hints of black currant and sweet black plum; along with a floral nuance of peony, spice, hints of dried herbs and warm liquorice.
Palate: a dry wine, with medium (+) acidity, smooth fine-grained well-integrated tannins, high alcohol and a full body, medium (+) intensity, a smooth rich texture, with flavours of an overarching ‘porty’ character, of ripe blackcurrant, dried rose buds, and rich dried fruits – warm raisins and currants. A long jammy length, with a slight bitterness on the slightly drying finish.
Quality: A very good quality wine with perfectly balanced acidity with the sweet ripe fruit, complex with a good tannic structure, with tannins that are smooth, well-integrated and harmonious with the flavour intensity. A complex well-developed wine, with a high level of concentration, showing tertiary dried fruit and liquorice notes for example, underpinned by a ‘porty’ high-toned character. A long length with a little bitterness on the finish. This wine is ready now, will keep for 2-3 years and not improve perceptibly.