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_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_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_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."