Spain located on the Iberian Peninsula, has over 2.9 million acres planted—making it the most widely planted wine producing nation but it is the third largest producer of wine in the world, the largest being France followed by Italy. This is due, in part, to the very low yields and wide spacing of the old vines planted on the dry, infertile soil found in many Spanish wine regions. The country has an abundance of native grape varieties, with over 400 varieties planted throughout Spain though 80 percent of the country's wine production is from only 20 grapes—including the reds Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Monastrell; the whites Albariño from Galicia, Palomino, Airen, and Macabeo; and the three cava grapes Parellada, Xarel·lo, and Macabeo. Major Spanish wine regions include the Rioja and Ribera del Duero which are known for their Tempranillo production; Valdepeñas, drunk by Unamuno and Hemingway, known for high quality tempranillo at low prices; Jerez, the home of the fortified wine Sherry; Rías Baixas in the northwest region of Galicia that is known for its white wines made from Albariño and Catalonia which includes the Cava and still wine producing regions of the Penedès as well the Priorat region. Spanish wine laws created the Denominación de Origen (DO) system in 1932 and were later revised in 1970. The system shares many similarities with the hierarchical Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system of France, Portugal's Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) and Italy's Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) system.
- Item #: i_378696Bottle Size: 750MLJames Suckling: 92Decanter: 90 to 95 Points55% Garnacha & 45% Carinena
DECANTER 92 POINTS - "Luxurious aromas of plums, violets and cedar with delicious red fruit quality. Palate is fresh, with nice concentration and soft tannins."
JAMES SUCKLING 92 POINTS - "Enveloping black-cherry and blueberry aromas, but also notes of licorice and smoke. A bold and powerful Priorat with discreet oak and plenty of freshness. The tannins are supple and beautifully integrated, the finish generous and polished."
While originally conceived of as a value wine, Les Terrasses "Velles Vignes" has slowly evolved into the essence of what makes Priorat special. Drawing on 15+ years of study, Terrasses is sourced from many of the region's steepest and oldest vineyards-many of them north-facing to avoid the intense afternoon sun. With the 2007 vintage, Alvaro acknowledged Les Terrasses' "graduation" by adding the "Velles Vignes" designation to the label.
The son of the owners of Rioja's Palacios Remondo, Alvaro Palacios spent his early 20s working and studying winemaking outside of Spain. His experience abroad - particularly in Bordeaux - instilled in him a deep passion for great wines and led him to return to Spain. With the ambition to make wines that could be world-class. To achieve this dream, Palacios was drawn to the historic hillsides of slate soil and its traditional grape varieties of Garnacha and Carinena. Now widely considered to be among the more important new Spanish wineries in a generation, Alvaro Palacios embodies the spirit of "The New Spain."
- Item #: i_380775Bottle Size: 750MLJames Suckling: 94This wine made our list of Top Spanish Wines of 2020 for its impressive quality for the price. It’s a Priorat made in a drink-me-now style that combines a vibrant, ripe fruit and floral profile with a medium-full weight and satiny, vinous texture!
It’s perhaps the most sleek and modern wine from one of Spain’s superstar winemakers, Alvaro Palacios, who comes from the well-respected Palacios Remondo wine family in Rioja. While studying enology in Bordeaux, he worked under superstar Jean-Pierre Moueix at Chateau Pétrus. Inspired to make his own great wines, he chose the secluded region of Priorat, which was an old wine region that had been going through a rennaissance. In the 1990s and 2000s he built up a collection of great vineyards, and with that, released more wines; Finca Dofi’, L’Ermita, Les Terraces, and Gratallops have all become wellrespected names on the international stage. With more vineyards, he found he could tighten up the selection for the top wines, thereby improving them, but also leaving enough left over for a highquality ‘everday’ wine. That’s how Camins del Priorat was created!
Typical to Priorat, the blend composing Camins del Priorat reflects the more relaxed planting rules: 35% Garnacha, 24% Syrah, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Samso (aka Carignan), 10% Merlot and 3% “other varieties.” This flexibility in blending allows for a range of styles in Priorat, so it’s hard to generalize. The only commonality is the distinctive terroir: a combination of the slatelike soils characteristic to the region, the dramatic, steep hills on which vineyards must often be terraced, and the proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, which moderates the climate.
JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - "Gorgeous, bright fruit with raspberries, black cherries and lavender with some schist. It’s medium-bodied with very polished and integrated tannins that go on and on. Drink or hold."
- Item #: i_381221Bottle Size: 750mlIt is an exciting time for Spanish winemaking and particularly for the Priorat region which continues its evolution as a producer of thrilling red wines. Although winemaking has taken place in Priorat for centuries, the region really caught the public’s attention in the 1990’s when several producers blazed a trail, focusing on quality. Today, this area is thriving and the demand for its wines continues to grow.
One of the great names associated with winemaking in Spain is Juan Gil, maker of the hugely popular Clio and El Nido wines, which sell out quickly once we get them in the store. One of Gil’s newer ventures is his exciting project in Priorat which he calls Bluegray, named for the color of the slate soils in his vineyards. Bluegray is a blend of 45% Grenache, 30% Mazuelo (Carignan) and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, which is lush and powerful, yet artfully balanced with pure fruit flavors augmented by minerality imparted by the soils. It is made in a ripe, fruit-forward style which seems tailor-made for the American palate.
Deep ruby with heavy staining of the tears, the nose shows focused ripe black fruit and cherry flavors accented by fresh autumn spices, mineral and spicy notes. On the palate, this wine is full-bodied with very smooth tannins. The fresh fruit flavors on display include blackberry, cherry, currant and blue plums. This shows good balance and drinkability with a long, lingering finish. Enjoy on its own or with grilled and roasted beef, aged cheeses and hearty dishes.
- Item #: i_381825Bottle Size: 750mlJeb Dunnuck: 95 PointsWow! One of our favorite Spanish wines, one that overloads the price-to-quality ratio with its bang-for-the-buck nature, is back! We just secured an allocation of the 2016 Black Slate Porrera, an amazing red wine and perhaps the most coveted of the reasonably-priced bottlings from Priorat. Black Slate Porrera offers a rich, hedonistic expression of mouth-coating deliciousness with exceptionally smooth and polished tannins. The lush dark fruit envelops the palate while somehow maintaining incredible balance.
"Tasting like it cost three times the price" - Jeb Dunnuck
The nose is loaded with ripe, dark red fruits enriched by a layer of floral perfume, balsa wood, incense and a touch of mineral earth. A very inviting, attractive nose. In the mouth, bright red and ripe dark fruits and mixed berries dominate, perfectly lush; the sweetness of fruit flavors are balanced by silky tannins and a touch of acidity, keeping the wine uplifted. Notes of mixed herbals, stony soil and forest floor add complexity; the fruit, however, is the star of the show as ripe sweet strawberry, red plum and blackberry flavors lead to an elongated, glorious finish.
The Black Slate wines are brought in by Eric Solomon who imports well-regarded wines from Spain as well as France. For his pioneering efforts, Eric has been recognized by Robert Parker as his Wine Personality of the Year. Parker also wrote, "I first tasted with Eric in 1991/1992, and I have watched him grow as an importer to the point where he may be the finest in the United States."
JEB DUNNUCK 95 POINTS - "Plums, blueberries, licorice, violets, candied rose, and a beautiful spice character all emerge from the 2017 Black Slate Porrera, and it’s incredibly complex and nuanced aromatically. This carries to a medium to full-bodied, powerful red with incredible finesse, elegant, silky tannins, and a gorgeous finish. It's another heavenly wine selling for way below what it’s worth."
- Item #: i_377354Bottle Size: 750mlORGANICALLY GROWN GRAPES
One of the most interesting aspects of winemaking at Clos Mogador is the fact that René presses the grape using an olive press, which has the effect of only extracting half of the amount of juice that a typical wine press would, making the wine 50% more concentrated. Considering that Priorat wines are already highly concentrated, and that "normal" yields are absolutely microscopic (especially compared to other Spanish wine regions such as La Rioja), the wines of Clos Mogador are nearly elixirs. Robert Parker, the influential wine critic, was one of the first international critics to praise the wines of this stunning winery.
- Item #: i_381966Bottle Size: 750mlClos Nelin is the property of Rene Barbier of Clos Mos comprised of four parcels totalling 10 hectares on llicorella soil located close to the village of Gratallops. The wine is a blend of 50% Garnacha Blanca and the rest Pinot Noir (blended as a white), Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Macabeo, Pedro Ximenez and Escanya Vella (a.k.a "old strangler"!). The wine is vinified in a combination of stainless-steel and concrete eggs, plus various sizes of oak barrel, where it spends nine months on its lees. The maiden vintage was 2000 and just 6,000 bottles are produced. Readers should note that the wine is now entitled simply "Nelin" rather than "Clos Nelin."
- Item #: i_385000Bottle Size: 750mlPRACTICING ORGANIC FARMING
This is a wine from southern Priorat, which marks with a lively, warm and fragrant vein the serious, deep and enigmatic character of old vineyards. Blackberry aromas with balsamic notes typical of the brushwood. The palate is remarkably mature and fresh at the same time. It has a natural elegance, as the vision of a landscape where the passage of centuries have managed to harmonize everything. It’s like an invitation from nature.
- Item #: i_382711Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 9385% Garnacha Blanca, 15% Garnacha Gris
WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - The white 2018 Black Slate La Morera is a Vi de Vila (village wine) and is a blend of 85% Garnacha Blanca and 15% Garnacha Gris from young-ish vines planted on slate soils at 600 meters in altitude in the village of La Morera de Montsant. It fermented in stainless steel with neutral yeasts and matured in stainless steel with the lees for four months.They went for more skin contact and used Garnacha Gris instead of Pedro Ximénez, which they used before. It's full of character and has a petrol-like whiff and a touch of ripe skins, reminiscent of something between an aged Chenin and a traditional white Rioja. This has added texture and a saline touch on the finish. It didn't see any oak. Good for food, mind-boggling good for the price, I'd say. 2,600 bottles produced. It was bottled in May 2019.
- Item #: i_381793Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 90WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - "The just-bottled 2017 Black Slate la Vilella Alta from Mas Alta is still the oakiest of the Black Slate range, for people who grew up with classic well-oaked Priorat, despite the fact that the élevage was in well-seasoned oak barrels. This has the signature of Michael Tardieu and Philippe Cambie, the winemakers behind this wine; it's a ripe and heady Priorat red produced with 50% Garnacha, 30% Cariñena and 10% each Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah with a full-bodied palate and plenty of tannins. This is a powerful wine to lay down or enjoy with powerful food. 20,520 bottles were filled in May 2019."
Bodegas Mas Alta is a joint project with renowned Rhone negociant and winemaker, Michel Tardieu, and noted French enologist, Philippe Cambie. It is located in the middle of D.O.C. Priorat, based in the village of Vilella Alta. The estate vineyards are high density plantings at approximately 1,050 feet above sea level, in front of Serra del Montsant, a mountain range that reaches 3,300 feet. Very steep and abrupt, the altitude, inclination, and slopes make a decisive influence on grape's maturity. The vineyards of La Viella Alta are situated on steep slopes of slate alongside of what once was the river of Escaladei. The heat of the south-facing vineyards combined with the cooler north-facing parcels create a well-balanced wine with ripe fruit and softness.
- Item #: i_383581Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93+WINE ADVOCATE 93+ POINTS - "The 2018 Martinet Bru is a wine that was born in 1990 and is now their way into Priorat but more about the stone than the fruit, less ripe than in the beginning, with complexity rather than voluptuosity. It's a blend of Garnacha, Cariñena, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from three organically farmed vineyards between Falset and Torroja. The grapes are picked early but at different times, fermented with some full clusters, co-fermented when possible (Garnacha-Syrah-Merlot and Cariñena-Syrah-Cabernet) with indigenous yeasts in concrete vats. It matured in a combination of 4,500-liter oak vats, used 300-liter barrels, amphorae and glass demijohns. It's elegant and fresh, nuanced and clean. It's very harmonious and feels very balanced, with fresh flavors and very fine tannins. It's one of the finest vintages for this bottling."
- Item #: i_387247Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 97WINE ADVOCATE 97 POINTS - "The Nit de Nin family has grown with the addition of a new vineyard. The wine produced since 2003 comes from Mas d'en Caçador—this was always named on the label, but it is now also specified in the wine name to distinguish between the new vineyard. The 2015 Nit de Nin Mas d’en Caçador comes from the vineyard mentioned in the name, a famous place in Porrera planted with old vines of Garnacha Negra, Garnacha Peluda and Cariñena. It fermented in an oak vat with indigenous yeasts and matured in a similar vat for 18 months. It's heady and ripe, exuberant and very open, a hedonistic, round and lush wine. The palate reveals very fine tannins and great harmony."
- Item #: i_387100Bottle Size: 750mlWINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - " It was great to taste the 2017 Planetes de Nin Garnatxes en Amfora next to the 2018 even though the two years are very different, and 2017 is the warmer and drier of the two. The two wines could not be more different, like night and day. This is a lot more Mediterranean, with notes of hay and straw, rosemary and thyme and a smoky bacon touch. The palate has the Priorat minerality, with an earthy touch, very fine tannins and a supple, clean finish. 6,660 bottles and 270 magnums were filled in June 2018."
- Item #: i_381049Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 95WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "The single-vineyard 2017 Finca Dofí comes from ten hectares that were planted 20 years ago in the village of Gratallops. It's mostly Garnacha with 8% Cariñena and 1% white grapes that fermented after being destemmed and lightly crushed in oak vats with indigenous yeasts. It matured in large oak barrels (bocoyes and foudres) for 16 months. There is no trace of oak in the wines, and there are no edges; they all feel sleek and elegant. This Dofí expresses the Mediterranean vintage from this vineyard at 300 to 320 meters in altitude, where the slate has a lot of iron, which turns the soils red and makes round and velvety wines, with flavors of red cherries, cherry pit, nectarines and even blood orange. The warm soils are compensated by mostly northern exposures. The palate has volume and is juicy, sensual and velvety, with some fine-grained tannins that currently call for food. It makes for a very gastronomical red. 29,700 bottles produced. It was bottled in April 2019. In 2018, there will be a separate bottling from one hectare of pure north-exposition grapes from Dofí, a new wine called La Baixada."
- Item #: i_379482Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 9577% Carinena (Carignan), 23% Garnacha (Grenache)
WINE SPECTATOR 95 POINTS - "This red is exuberant and structured. Ripe yet focused flavors of raspberry, currant and kirsch mingle with savory herb, espresso and mineral notes, supported by muscular but well-integrated tannins and enough acidity to keep the heady flavors in balance. A statement wine, not for the faint of heart. Carignan and Garnacha. Best from 2020 through 2035."
A tribute to a village, its townspeople and its indigenous old-vines. The winery lies in the tiny village of Porrera in the highly-acclaimed appellation of Priorat. Here, the magnificent, century-old vineyard estates of Vall Llach are home to 60- to 90-year-old Cariñena and Garnacha vines.
The old vines naturally produce low yields, and Vall Llach reduces yields even further through careful vineyard management. Vineyards climb steep slate hillsides, receiving optimum sun exposure and little water, further concentrating the fruit. Lovers of rich and concentrated wines with dark fruit flavors will be thrilled with this one.