The Colours of Priorat

23Nov Posted by Julia
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We’ve always been particularly proud of our small stable of Priorat producers, which includes Daphne Glorian of the legendary Clos Erasmus, Família Nin-Ortiz and a recent addition, the game-changing winemaker Dominik Huber of Terroir al Límit. Last month the Indigo team drove through the wild, winding roads of this remote part of Catalunya to join other winemakers, importers, and locals at an unforgettable harvest party organised by Dominik. We wanted to share a bit of this truly special experience with you, as told below by Magali, a member of our Sales Team.

And while we’re not usually the type of tout scores, we thought the recent reviews of our Priorat wines by Luis Gutiérrez of the Wine Advocate needed to be celebrated. You can find them at the bottom of this post!

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As we drove up the hills into Priorat for the first time, it occurred to me that this looked like no other region I had ever visited. Perhaps the most appropriate way to describe it would be as a wild, unruly place. It’s remote and difficult to access, with vertiginously steep slopes and old vines throughout. And if we’re going to get technical, I might as well point out that it has a hot and dry Continental climate and low rainfall. But it’s the characteristic llicorella (a red slate) soils that lend Priorat its most striking feature: an orange-tinged, magical light that stretches over the hills and vineyards– and is not easily captured in photos.

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A bit of background for those of you who are unfamiliar with the region: Priorat’s winemaking history began with the creation of the Priorato dei Scala Dei monastery back in the 12th century, founded by Carthusian monks. The region was already quite well known for winemaking when it was devastated by phylloxera in the 19th century. It then slowly recovered but remained dominated by cooperatives until 1989 when René Barbier and some friends – including José Luis Perez, Carlos Pastrana, (our very own) Daphne Glorian and Álvaro Palacios put Priorat back on the map by focusing on site-specific bottlings (mostly preceded by the word ‘Clos’) and fine winemaking techniques.

Although they were wildly successful and raised the region’s international profile, newer players like Terroir Al Límit are taking a different approach to high quality winemaking by tapping into the historic culture of the region and producing lighter, less extracted wines that are nonetheless extremely elegant and age-worthy. 

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Anyhow, back to our trip! As we arrived in the village of Torroja, where Dominik Huber lives, we were driven in pick-up trucks to the ‘Les Tosses’ vineyard, where we had our first lunch and drank the unfinished and unblended wines from the recent harvest; Xarel-lo, Garnacha Blanca, Garnacha, Cariñena, all stored in rustic glass jars. When you see these steep slopes planted with old Cariñena on slate soils at 650 metres altitude, you think it must take someone really determined (or a little bit crazy) to decide to make wine here.

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We walked back for almost one hour, rambling along with glasses of wine in our hands and bottles in our back pockets.

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In the evening a ‘Magnum Party’  was held at the wonderful Cal Compte Hotel in Torroja. We joined other importers, friends (both wine-related and not), winemakers, and locals who each supplied their own magnums. Among them our fellow Indigo winemaker Theresa of Georg Breuer, so we had the pleasure of drinking some of her Rieslings, including the stunning Nonennberg ’13. Our contribution to the party included magnums from Suertes del Marqués, Ochota Barrrels and Muhr-van der Niepoort

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The next day we soaked up hangovers with a traditional Paella and tripe, but not before Dominik brought out the new Terroir al Límit releases for us to taste. Everything was tasting great, but Les Manyes and Les Tosses 2014 were particularly captivating. It’s clearly a vintage Dominik is very proud of. 

We then headed to the beautiful “La Planeta” vineyard owned by another Priorat favourite, Celler Pasanau. The traditional licorella soils are covered by a gravelly soil where Ricard Pasanau planted Cabernet Sauvignon nearly 20 years ago for his classic ‘Finca La Planeta’ cuvee. More tasting, rambling, and vineyard gazing ensued before a final dinner back in Torroja. A perfect ending to an epic trip.

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Recent Scores by Luis Gutiérrez from The Wine Advocate (Robert Parker)

Below you will find a list of wines we currently stock that received exceptional scores from wine critic Luis Gutiérrez. We really admire Luis’ work and the recognition he has given to small, artisanal growers in Spain. We’re also very proud to work with these growers, so we thought we might as well shout it from the rooftops.

Note that the incredible Clos I Terrasses ‘Clos Erasmus‘ was awarded 100 points, but I’ve left it off the table because we are unfortunately (but understandably) out of stock. For more information on the wines you can contact us directly, or visit the producer pages for Clos I Terrasses, Familia Nin-Ortiz and La Conreria d’Scala Dei. Terroir al Lítmit and Celler Pasanau will be uploaded soon!

Producer Wine Vintage Score
Clos I Terrasses Laurel 2013 93
Familia Nin-Ortiz Nit de Nin 2013 96+
Familia Nin-Ortiz Planetes 2013 93+
Familia Nin-Ortiz Planetes White 2014 93
Conreria d’Scala Dei Black Slate 2014 92
Terroir al Límit Terroir Historic Red 2015 90+
Terroir al Límit Terroir Historic White 2015 91
Terroir al Límit Arbossar 2013 95+
Terroir al Límit Dits del Terra 2013 94
Terroir al Límit Les Manyes 2013 97
Terroir al Límit Les Tosses 2013 96
Terroir al Límit Pedra de Guix 2013 94
Terroir al Límit Terra de Cuques 2013 92
Terroir al Límit Torroja Vi de Vila 2014 92+