The re-discovered Priorat (and more monks!)


Yet an other wine with monastic origin. I really did not want to drag the monks out of the hat again, but I just bumped into a great wine with a good story. This time we take a look around in Spain. In Catalunya to be very precise…

This story begins with the Charthusian monks, around the 15th century. They were quite busy folks, as they had nearly 90,000 vines around their Monastery. Originally the monks came from the Chatreuse mountain in the French Alps. St Bruno founded the first community, and they were really keen on their booze, hence the Chartreuse liquor. I had the opportunity to walk around their monastery out in the middle of nowhere during a winter sunset. I understand now why their only escape was the distillery…

But this time the good monks were in the best part of Catalunya. Since the 18th century the monk`s winery was called “La Perla del Priorat”. In the early 20th century the monks abandoned the vineyards. Actually farming pretty much stopped in the whole region in the end of the 19th century, as most people found better paying work in silver mines (certainly not easier work, but at least they earned more). Poor Priorat was abandoned for 60 years.

Yet the region is one of the most dynamic Spanish wine regions nowadays. Since it was abandoned for many years, the first modern Priorat wines were a real discovery for the wine world. The region is located right next to Montsant about an 1.5 hour`s drive inlands from Barcelona.

The main speciality of this region lies in its soil. The locals call it Llicorella (liquorish). It consist of dark granite rocks and red earth between them. Beyond the fact that this soil has excellent heath storage qualities, it forces the vines to stretch their roots deep underground to find humidity, It is a perfect soil if you want to create elegant yet monstrously substantial red wines.

It is all fine and dandy with the soil in terms of quality, but the volume of fruit harvested is terribly low. A properly pruned old vine on the steep rocky slopes might yield just enough fruit that would make about half a bottle of wine. Because of the terrain, the lack of the trelessing system and the age of the vines, it is all manually tended.

The monks estate was revamped in  1998. Count Pyrenne bought the Las Perlas del Priorat and about 70 hectares around it. Since that they planted Cabernet Sauvignon and restored the old plantations of Garnacha and Carignan.

Our wine from Priorat, the Noster consists of 55% Grenache, and 45% Carignan. It is hand harvested, and most of it is aged in new oak barrel for a year. The rest of the wine remains in steel tanks, managing to retain the fruit as well as the secondary, oaky aromas. It has a massive range of flavours from plums, red berries to vanilla and jam. It is a perfect full bodied red with lots of elegance to please you with. As it was harvested in 2005 it is on the peak, drink it now!


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