The steep vineyards of Priorat are hardly accessible terrains and entail a great deal of physical labour. As has often been the case in other Spanish great viticultural areas, such as Ribeira Sacra (Galicia) and the Canary Islands, industrialisation and the urbanisation of the population has left many of these old vineyards abandoned. Abandoned to be rediscovered by a new generation of winemakers.
Priorat rests on mountainous terrains in the south of Catalonia (Spain). These steep lands with especially poor soils do not sustain many crops. The red and black slate (referred to as llicorella locally) soil does, however, have a positive impact on the vines, which are forced to develop deep root networks to survive. Plantings are predominantly Garnacha and Carignan (Carinyena), grape varietals that have been historically notorious for their lower acidity and rustic tannins when grown in certain hot climates like that of Priorat. In fact, Carignan is planted in abundance across the Mediterranean for its great vigour in fertile lands, but it can yield very astringent or bitter wines. However, the incredibly low yields of old vines when planted on llicorella produce concentrated wines with elegant freshness, subdued tannins and complex bouquets. Garnacha provides spice and fruit whereas Carignan gives blends acidity, spice and minerality.
One of our favourite producers, which we discovered in Els Tres Porquets in Barcelona, is Ferrer Bobet. A young enterprise but with access to great old vineyards from which winemaker Raül Bobet makes magic. Raül is a unique character himself. Passionate about philosophy, he is a man of strong ideas and opinions. He draws part of his knowledge as a doctor in Chemistry to execute very poetic wines. His are wines to be drunk and finish the bottle. Wines with a very deep colour for a carignan of a freshness that few in Priorat achieve. To this statement, he claims that it is the soil that allows the grapes to retain low pHs and these concentrations. There must be a reason for him to be one of the only to make 100% Carignan wines.
|Ferrer Bobet – Vinyes Velles 2016
|Black fruits, ripe blackberries, black raspberries, licorice, leather, French oak spice. As it develops, leaving the wine in the glass for a bit reveals notes of violets and roasted coffee beans.
|Blackberries and licorice on the attack, leather on the midpalate and spice on the finish from French oak. Very concentrated. Fruit is ripe but cooler than Mediterranean wines. Long fruity and spicy finish.
|High acidity, almost tangy! Dry, medium tannins, fine but grippy. High alcohol and full bodied. Very refined.