This mountainous area southwest of Barcelona embodies one of Spain’s most dramatic wine stories. In the 1980s, a group of renegade vintners set up camp in what was then an almost forgotten region. What lured them were ancient Garnacha and Carignane vineyards, largely abandoned in the wake of Spain’s Civil War—and those vines produced dark, luscious, exotically rich reds. Nowadays no one doubts the Priorat’s role as one of Spain’s greatest wine regions.
BOTTLES TO TRY
2014 Mas Alta Black Slate La Vilella Alta ($20) Wine importer Eric Solomon’s Black Slate wines provide a village-by-village introduction to the character of the Priorat. This bottling, from vineyards near the town of La Vilella Alta, is full of wild berry and mocha notes.
2015 Mas Doix Les Crestes ($26) The intense black-purple hue of this cherry-scented red suggests that the wine is going to be massive and wildly ripe. Instead, it’s surprisingly bright and lively, thanks to the cool microclimate in the village of Poboleda, where it’s from.
2014 Idus de Vall Llach ($50) Vall Llach was founded in the early 1990s by the Catalan singer Lluis Llach and Priorat native Enric Costa. Idus, made mostly from old-vine Carignane, plays exotic aromas against an ultra-plush texture and boysenberry fruit.
2014 Clos i Terrasses Laurel ($55) Daphne Glorian’s sublime Clos Erasmus is one of the greatest Priorat reds, but it runs $200 a bottle. Instead, spring for Laurel, a barrel selection from the same ancient vineyards that offers intense wild-herb aromas and layers of flavor.