Priorat appellation comprises a relatively small area, but its wines have become some of the most renowned and appreciated both in Spain and internationally. The quality of these wines has earned the qualifier “Calificada”, which is the highest level that can be obtained, and the second one granted in Spain, after Rioja.
D.O. Priorat is placed in the very centre of the Tarragona province, and is one of the most unique counties in the region. Two landmarks make this country outstanding: historically, the monks of the Charterhouse monastery of Scala Dei introduced the winemaking techniques around the middle of the 12th century; this monastery was indeed the real pater vinarius of the delectable wines we can now enjoy. On the other hand, the impressive Montsant mountain range is another characteristic feature of the county: around those rocky outcrops, a temptation for the boldest rock-climbers, small villages appeared and started growing vines in its hillsides, vineyards that have resisted the past of time.
The almost 3.700 vineyard hectares are extended in a mountainous area limited at the north by the Sierra del Montsant, at the east by Sierra de Molló and Argentera and at the west by Sierra del Tormo. Siurana River, affluent of the Ebro, runs on its south creating a depression surrounded by mountains. D.O. Priorat encompasses the municipalities of La Morella de Montsant, Scala Dei, La Vilella Alta, La Vilella Baixa, Gratallops, Bellmunt de Priorat, Porrera, Pobleda, Torroja de Priorat, El Lloar, Falset and El Molar.
The prevailing climate in the Priorat region is continental with marine influences, temperate and dry, without striking temperature changes between summer and winter. The mountain barrier that keeps away the marine influence and its humid winds brings summers without rain. The summer dryness is especially beneficial to keep vineyards in a good phytosanitary condition.
It is typical from Priorat to have the vines planted in steep slopes and slate terraces of scarce fertility and very difficult cultivation. The soils are mainly licorella or slate, very poor in organic matter and give Priorat wines a mineral character. At the same time, the stony terrain prevents the erosion and favours drainage, a real need in such a dry climate.
Red wines are produced with Cariñena and Garnacha grapes that provide rich and full-bodied red wines, tannic, dense, and rich in structure and aroma, with a deep mineral flavour (graphite). Some white grape varieties are also planted, as Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo and Pedro Ximénez, and white wines outcome rather warm, with glycerol content and Mediterranean character. Together with these, some traditional wines have remained as rancio wines, full of personality and rich in almond nuances.