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_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_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.