It was just last week that Wine Advocate magazine awarded 100 points to l’Ermita 2013 wine. L’Ermita is a wine produced by Alvaro Palacios winery, one of the 92 micro-wineries in this tiny region, 90 minutes south of Barcelona. Tiny, but blessed by gods to produce wine.
What makes Priorat region so special for wine production? It is a mix of several key factors:
This is a hilly region, and vineyards grow in the steep slopes of the mountains.
Land is composed of slate rock, with very special effect on vineyards due to water and humidity retention.
Long tradition in wine making, certified for more than 8 centuries and, most likely, from the Roman era 2000 years ago.
The region contains very old vineyards, some of them more than 100 years old, with very poor production per acre but, extraordinary quality production.
And finally, the human touch, the personal projects in wine making of people such as Alvaro Palacios, Rene Barbier, Rovira family, and many others.
Priorat is a privileged land for wine production, where wine lovers develop their own personal project and come out with extraordinary and unique wines. In Priorat everything is micro. Do not expect to find large vineyards, large cellars, and large production batches of wine. 50,000 bottles a year already is a good volume for these cellars. But all these bottles are high quality wines (95 points or above in wine rankings).
In fact, all these wineries are personal projects: small businesses aimed to explore and experiment in wine production, always looking for extraordinary results. In this fashion, you’ll find different approaches to grow the vineyards: old vineyards, local genuine vine varieties, and new vineyards; grown in terraces or free in the slopes; vineyards cleaned of grass and other herbs, or just wild to get the protection of other plants; maintenance by the use of machinery or just animals to take care of the fields; with a controlled use of chemicals or only biodynamical treatments). And when it gets to harvest time, every vineyard will be worshipped at the very specific moment, with the permission of the moon.
Once at the cellar, another world opens for aging the wine: barrels, ceramic pots, glass, concrete,... You’d be surprised with the extraordinary wines they produce which have never touched wood when aging. Every wine from Priorat is a personal project of someone who lives only after wine. No one of Priorat wineries follow the same approach, everyone has its own method, techniques, beliefs, and personal passion.
If you are a wine lover and ever decide to spend some days in Barcelona, please do not miss a couple of days in Priorat. We’ll suggest and organize for you a visit to Clos Mogador, to Mas Martinet, to Ferrer Bobet, to Mas Doix, to Mas de’n Gil, and some other wineries.
We’ll then set for you a stay at Cal Compte, a unique XVIII manor’s house in the little town of Torroja de Priorat, with a singular lunch at La Cooperativa in Porrera, where these wine producers who use to have lunch and share opinion about the next harvest.
But we’ll not hold responsible if you get in love with this magic place, blessed by gods to produce wine.