Priorat: Spain’s Answer to Chateauneuf?

priorat llicorella soils

As in Chateauneuf, Priorat soils are hidden by a layer of stones.

Priorat is an unbelievably rugged wine region in Catalonia, a couple of hours inland an up-country from Barcelona. The climate is Mediterranean, with hot sunshine partially moderated by altitude and wind. The vines grow on steeply sloped hillsides of fractured slate – often you have to dig through a foot or more of broken rock to get to the shallow soils where young vines are planted.

If the notion of soil hidden by stones brings to mind Chateauneuf du Pape, you’re on the right track. Except the rock is splintered granite instead of rounded off river stones. The main grapes overlap with Chateauneuf’s – Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan predominate – and ripen to the same big, bold, levels you find in the Southern Rhone.

But Utterly Unique
But Carignan – or Carinyena as it’s called here – plays a much bigger role (about 40% of AiAiAi’s blend). So you can think of Priorat as CdP but with more blue/black fruit character. And a more firm and powerful spine. And with an utterly unique and captivating sense of dusty slate on the nose, palate and finish.

Silvia Puig has been planting vineyards, growing grapes and making wine in Priorat for her whole adult life, and for the past 10 years or so she’s been creating some of the region’s most exciting, handcrafted, wines under the En Numeros Vermells label. Until recently, she’s made her tiny lots of bold, rich reds and whites (from a few hundred to 3,000 or so bottles of each wine) in the cellar of her home in the heart of Priorat (starting this year, she’s got her own winery – more on that to come later this spring!).

silvia-puig-2019.jpgWith such tiny production levels and a loyal customer base (like us – we sell more of Silvia’s wines than anyone!), she doesn’t have to present her wines to critics for review. But somehow Josh Raynolds of Vinous got his hands on a bottle of her “entry level” AiAiAi 2014. He wrote:

“A heady, exotically perfumed bouquet evokes ripe red and dark berries, potpourri and Indian spices, along with suggestions of cola and smoky minerals. Concentrated yet lithe, showing strong energy and focus to its juicy black raspberry, lavender pastille and spicecake flavors. The floral quality gains strength with air, carrying through a very long, sweet and gently tannic finish that leaves sappy berry and mineral notes behind.” Vinous (Raynolds) 92 points

Sound good? We’re featuring the 2018 AiAiAi this week, and 2018 is a much better year and this is an even more exciting wine. In fact, even though this is Silvia’s “entry-level” red, it easily outshines most Priorat wineries’ top reds.

And the name? It comes from Silvia’s experience making wine in the basement of her house while tending young children playing in the cellar. “AiAiAi, get off those barrels.” “AiAiAi, don’t fall in the vat!” But the name is just as apt as a description of your reaction when you taste this stunning 2018.

“AiAiAi! That’s delicious!”

AiAiAi! Garage Wines from Rugged Priorat

silvia puig in storeSilvia Puig was pretty much born into the wine business – her father, Joseph Puig, is a longtime restaurateur, export manager for Spain’s Miguel Torres and founder of Torres’s operation in Chile. Silvia followed Joseph into the trade, learning winemaking at school and while working at properties in Bordeaux and Spain (including Vega Sicilia’s Alion winery).

Eventually, she and Joseph founded their own estate called Vinedos de Ithaca in the rugged Gratallops region of Priorat, in the province of Tarragona southwest of Barcelona.

Priorat llicorella soils.pngRugged Priorat
Priorat is an unbelievably rugged wine region in Catalonia, a couple of hours inland an up-country from Barcelona. The climate is Mediterranean, with hot sunshine partially moderated by altitude and wind. The vines grow on steeply sloped hillsides of fractured slate – often you have to dig through a foot or more of broken rock just to get to the shallow soils where young vines are planted.

If the notion of soil hidden by stones brings to mind Chateauneuf du Pape, you’re on the right track. Except the rock if splintered granite instead of rounded off river stones. The main grapes overlap with Chateauneuf’s – Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan predominate – and ripen to the same big, bold, levels you find in the Southern Rhone.

But Carignan – or Careinyena as it’s called here – plays a much bigger role (about 40% of AiAiAi’s blend). So you can think of Priorat as CdP but with more blue/black fruit character. And a more firm and powerful spine. And with an utterly unique and captivating sense of dusty slate on the nose, palate and finish.

No, Really – It’s a Garage!
Silvia and Joseph’s Vinedos de Ithaca was successful from the start, but like so many talented winemakers, Silvia wanted to do something completely on her own. So, in 2008 she began the project now called En Numeros Vermells. The name, “Numbers in the Red” and clever label design by local graffiti artist Adria Batet, evoked the rain of bad news showing down on Spain and the world during the late 2000’s financial meltdown.

Silvia created ENV to let her intimately nurture small amounts of wine from grape to bottle on a barrel by barrel basis. The small scale let her largely ignore the normal time and financial pressures of winemaking – with a total production of just a few hundred cases, she was free to let each wine find its own way to maturity and use only the barrels that actually fit in her final blends.

We throw around the terms “garage wine” and “handcrafted” quite a bit, but that’s truly the best way to describe everything about these wines. The En Numerous Vermells “cellar” is the garage of Silvia’s house in the Priorat village of Poboleda, a building that also serves as Silvia’s home and her husband – Belgian chef Pieter Truyts – Brots Restaurant.

In this tiny space, Silvia is literally doing virtually everything by hand. She tends the small number of barrels stacked in the space carefully, tasting and re-tasting to learn how each is developing and gaining a deep understanding of each cask’s unique character, strengths, and weaknesses. Multiple blending trials allow Silvia to explore how her charges work together (or don’t), and create an ideal marriage that lets each site and varietal shine without fighting or overwhelming each other.

We’ve been blown away by Silvia’s top wines – the flagship Priorat Negre and the ultra-small production alternate blends – since importer Jonas Gustafsson brought us the first vintages to land in the USA last year. The quality has been nothing short of extraordinary and they’ve all flown off our shelves.

AiAiAi Indeed!
With increasing success with her ENV wines, more and more active children and her husband’s thriving restaurant, Silvia has now decided to focus 100% of her winemaking energies on En Numeros Vermells. The extra time allowed her to purchase a little more fruit and turn her attentions and talents to making a softer, more accessible, wine that we can enjoy now while letting the top bottlings develop in cellar.

The name comes from Silvia’s experience making wine while tending young children playing in the cellar. “AiAiAi, get off those barrels.” “AiAiAi, don’t fall in the vat!” But the name is as apt as a description of your reaction when you taste this stunning 2017.

AiAiAi! That’s delicious!”

Terra Alta – “Baby Priorat”?

Clua VineyardTerra Alta is just southwest of the much more famous Priorat region, about 100 km west of Barcelona in Eastern Spain. This is arid, rocky, and mountainous territory that immediately begs the question – why would anyone try to make wine here?

But we know the Romans grew vines here and there is some suggestion winemaking started even earlier than that. The traditional Terra Alta wine was white and “rancio” (a nice way of saying oxidized and sour). Until the 1980s, though, this was mainly co-op country with growers focused mainly on quantity rather than quality.

Why Not Us?
In the 1980s, forward-looking growers in Terra Alta began to notice the critical acclaim (and high prices!) garnered by their neighbors to the aast in Priorat and asked themselves, “Why not us?” Growers had secured DO status in 1972, but revised the DO rule in 1995 to increase the region’s focus on red varieties, especially Cabernet Sauvignon.

In many regions, we think the addition of Cabernet and other “international” varieties is a bad thing, often warping and undermining traditional wine styles in pursuit of big scores and “international style.” In Terra Alta, though, Cabernet has shown itself as an adept partner to Garnatxa Negre (“Grenache” in Catalan), adding structure and complexity without overwhelming the wine’s essential sense of place. In other words, the better wines of Terra Alta taste like they are from Spain, not Australia.

Xavier Clua Capturing the Essence of Terra Alta
xavier Clua familyIf Terra Alta is one of the most promising wine regions in Spain (and it is!), then Xavier Clua has to be one of the most promising winemakers.

The Clua family has been making wine for more than four generations, but Xavier is taking things to an entirely new level. Xavier worked in the family vineyards from his childhood, but left home and earned a degree in oenology in 1994. He then broadened his horizons further by working at several Chateaux in Bordeaux. He returned to Terra Alta with a new, somewhat paradoxical, conviction – that by modernizing his family’s vineyards and winery, he could produce honest, authentic, wine that married world-class quality with distinctive Terra Alta character.

So, he went to work. Blessed with 30-40 year-old Grenache vineyards, Xavier worked to improve his family’s plantings of Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah. The old-vine Grenache vineyards were converted from bush-vines to run along a trellis wire, allowing longer shoots and yielding smaller, more intense, berries. Xavier used temperature-controlled stainless steel fermentation vats to allow longer, slower, alcoholic fermentation and ensure controlled malolactic fermentations. Finally, he began working with small French oak barrels, learning how to gain the maximum benefit from wood aging without overwhelming or masking his wine’s sense of place.

Clua Millennium bottle

Clua Millennium – Power, Purity, Place
Xavier Clua views Mil.lennium as his top wine, the apex expression of his ethic, work and vineyards. And the wine has been very, very, good since we first encountered the 2005 back in 2009. Those early (for us) vintages showcased the power of Terra Alta, emphasizing richness, deep fruit, oak spice and intense, gripping, finishes. They were big, bold, wines that delivered what we (then) thought of as the essence of Spanish wine.

Over the past few years, winegrowers and makers across Spain have been exploring how to move beyond the pure power their old vines and hot, sunny, days easily give. More and more, we see fine Spanish wines that match ripeness of fruit and power of structure with something new: freshness.

Xavier, I think was a bit ahead of this curve: his wines have always matched ripeness with fresh, vibrant, structures. But the 2013 Mil.lennium seems to capture this balance better than ever. Yes, it’s a big wine with plenty of palate impact. But it’s also pure (not thick), clear (not muddy), spiced (not over-oaked), and fresh (not heavy or plodding). It certainly grabs your attention from first sniff and sip. But it will hold and deepen that attention as you move from one glass to the next. A delicious accomplishment you will not want to miss.

The ENV Adventure

Silvia Puig ENVSilvia Puig was pretty much born into the wine business – her father, Joseph Puig, is a longtime restaurateur, export manager for Spain’s Miguel Torres and founder of Torres’s operation in Chile. Silvia followed Joseph into the trade, learning winemaking at school and while working at properties in Bordeaux and Spain (including Vega Sicilia’s Alion winery). Eventually, she and Joseph founded their own estate in the Gratallops region of Priorat, in the province of Tarragona southwest of Barcelona.

Silvia and Joseph named their new venture Vinedos de Ithaca, a nod to the Greek settlers who first planted vines in this rugged corner of Spain, and carved an estate vineyard out of the steep hills around the winery. Fairly early on, Jonas met Silvia on a Spanish wine buying trip with importer Olivier Daubresse and began offering her wines here around 2005. Working with their own vines and grapes Silvia purchased from old-time farmers and families across the region, the wines quickly found success in both Spain and in the international wine press both for the traditional reds and, unusually, for Silvia’s striking whites (a rarity in Priorat).

Like so many successful winemakers, Silvia wanted to do something completely on her own, and in 2008 she began the project now called En Numeros Vermells. The name, “Numbers in the Red” and clever label design by local graffiti artist Adria Batet, evoked the rain of bad news showing down on Spain and the world during the late 2000’s financial meltdown.

True “Garage Wines.” In contrast to the larger production volumes of Vinedos de Ithaca, Silvia designed this project to let her intimately nurture small amounts of wine from grape to bottle on a barrel by barrel basis. The small scale let her largely ignore the normal time and financial pressures of winemaking – with a total production of a few hundred cases, she was free to let each wine find its own way to maturity and use only the barrels that actually fit in her final blends.

We through around the terms “garage wine” and “handcrafted” quite a bit, but that’s truly the best way to describe everything about these wines. The En Numerous Vermells “cellar” is the garage of Silvia’s house in the Priorat village of Poboleda, a building that also serves as Silvia’s home and her husband – Belgian chef Pieter Truyts – Brots Restaurant.

In this tiny space, Silvia is literally doing virtually everything by hand. She tends the 10 or so barrels stacked in the space carefully, tasting and re-tasting to learn how each is developing and gaining a deep understanding of each cask’s unique character, strengths, and weaknesses. Multiple blending trials allow Silvia to explore how her charges work together (or don’t), and create an ideal marriage that lets each site and varietal shine without fighting or overwhelming each other.

Even the packaging is by hand! Silvia dips each bottle in wax by hand and decorates each cardboard six-pack with a unique, often whimsical, drawing in pencil, pen, and marker. You won’t often hear us wax enthusiastic about the box a wine comes in, but this year’s artwork – each box unique – is the most charming yet, echoing some of the exuberance and down to earth elegance you’ll find in the wines.

New ENV Releases. Silvia doesn’t make much of any of her ENV wines, and has no trouble selling all she has at the restaurant in Priorat and to discerning European customers. We owe our generous – in terms of how much Silvia makes – allocations to the passion and persuasion of importer Jonas Gustafsson. Jonas has followed and supported the ENV project since its inception, often tasting and debating the wines with Silvia as she decides on her final blends.

Although the wines get better and better, Silvia and Jonas have agreed to hold prices steady again this year. No, they are not inexpensive. But I’d argue that they represent extraordinary value – especially at the mix/match case prices – for a region where even mediocre bottlings achieve $70+ price tags. But when you taste them … that’s really all the justification the wines need.

Read previous posts about Silvia Puig and her ENV wines.

Garage Wine Update

Silvia Puig ENVWe’ve written before about Priorat’s Silvia Puig and her garage wine project, En Numeros Vermells. Today, we’re introducing her new Priorat, which Silvia calls AiAiAi, big news for this ultra-small (it really is in a garage) project in the rugged hills of Priorat.

Not only is this wine Silvia’s first ENV Priorat built for drinking in its luscious youth, it’s the first to arrive since we’ve been able to announce that she’s left Vinedos de Ithaca to devote her full energies to this great new project.

With increasing success with her ENV wines, more and more active children and her husband’s thriving restaurant, Silvia has now decided to focus 100% of her winemaking energies on En Numeros Vermells. The extra time allowed her to purchase a little more fruit and turn her attentions and talents to making a softer, more accessible, wine that we can enjoy now while letting the top bottlings develop in cellar.

Our good friend and Silvia’s US importer, Jonas Gustafsson, has worked closely with Silvia since ENV’s inception, and he helped her create this exciting new wine, the 2013 AiAiAi Priorat. And, we’re very proud that Jonas invited us to be debut partners in Silvia’s exciting new venture, too!

“There are no Rules.” Silvia made about 1800 regular bottles and 60 magnums of the first-ever release of AiAiAi Priorat 2013, blending Garnacha (about half), Carignan (about 40%) plus dashes of Syrah and Merlot aged in an assortment of barrels and in tank. As with all her ENV wines, her only winemaking rule is simple: “There are no rules.” Instead, Silvia makes the best wine she can from vineyards farmed by good friends across Priorat and then tastes, tastes, and tastes some more until she discovers a blend that perfectly expresses the essence of the vineyards, growing season, and Priorat itself.

With AiAiAi, her focus is on showcasing the joy and wildness of her remote Priorat home and family. You’ll find plenty of classic Priorat aromas and flavors – blueberry, blackberry, crushed mint, damp slate, cocoa, licorice, and more – in a more festively styled wine that glides over your palate and finishes with supple tannins and mouthwatering, lingering flavors of black fruit, mint, and cocoa.

Ultra-Small, Focused Attention. Silvia designed En Numeros Vermells to let her intimately nurture small amounts of wine from grape to bottle on a barrel by barrel basis. The small scale let her largely ignore the normal time and financial pressures of winemaking – with a total production of only a few hundred cases, she was free to let each wine find its own way to maturity and use only the barrels that actually fit in her final blends.

We throw around the terms “garage wine” and “handcrafted” quite a bit, but that’s truly the best way to describe everything about these wines. The En Numerous Vermells “cellar” is the garage of Silvia’s house in the Priorat village of Poboleda, a building that also serves as Silvia’s home and her husband – Belgian chef Pieter Truyts – Brots Restaurant.

In this tiny space, Silvia is literally doing virtually everything by hand. She tends the small number of barrels stacked in the space carefully, tasting and re-tasting to learn how each is developing and gaining a deep understanding of each cask’s unique character, strengths, and weaknesses. Multiple blending trials allow Silvia to explore how her charges work together (or don’t), and create an ideal marriage that lets each site and varietal shine without fighting or overwhelming each other.

What Makes a Truly Handcrafted Wine?

En Numeros Vermells Priorat We throw around the words ‘handcrafted,’ ‘small production,’ and ‘garage wine’ frequently, whenever we are trying to communicate how hands-on a winemaker is and/or the limited availability of certain artisanal wines.

But the wines of Priorat’s Silvia Puig definitely qualify. We feel privileged to be able to carry these wines and to support this winemaker. These are truly small production (she made only 323 bottles of one), truly made in her garage, and as for handcrafted – her hands-on attention even includes her one-of-a-kind sketches on each cardboard case.

Silvia’s Story 
silviaSilvia Puig was born into the wine business – her father, Joseph Puig, is a longtime restaurateur, export manager for Spain’s Miguel Torres and founder of Torres’s operation in Chile. Silvia followed Joseph into the trade, learning winemaking at school and while working at properties in Bordeaux and Spain (including Vega Sicilia’s Alion winery). Eventually, she and Joseph founded their own estate in the Gratallops region of Priorat, in the province of Tarragona southwest of Barcelona.

Silvia and Joseph named their new venture Vinedos de Ithaca, a nod to the Greek settlers who first planted vines in this rugged corner of Spain, and carved an estate vineyard out of the steep hills around the winery.

Fairly early on, local importer Jonas Gustaffson met Silvia on a Spanish wine-buying trip with importer Olivier Daubresse and began offering her wines here around 2005. Working with their own vines and grapes and fruit Silvia purchased from old-time farmers and families across the region, the wines quickly found success in both Spain and in the international wine press both for the traditional reds and for Silvia’s striking whites (a rarity in Priorat).

The steep slopes of Priorat

The steep slopes of Priorat

Striking Out on Her Own
Like so many successful winemakers, Silvia wanted to do something completely on her own, and in 2008 she began the project now called En Numeros Vermells. The name, “Numbers in the Red” and clever label design by local graffiti artist Adria Batet evoked the rain of bad news showering down on Spain and the world during the late 2000’s financial meltdown.

In contrast to the larger production volumes of Vinedos de Ithaca, Silvia designed this project to let her intimately nurture small amounts of wine from grape to bottle on a barrel-by-barrel basis. The organic/biodynamically grown fruit comes from Priorat’s best sites – high altitude, steeply sloped, and covered in the cracked “Llicorella” (slate) that gives Priorat its distinctive mineral cut.

And her small scale let her largely ignore the normal time and financial pressures of winemaking – with a total production of only a few hundred cases, she was free to let each wine find its own way to maturity and use only the barrels that actually fit in her final blends.

Made in a Garage … Truly!
The En Numerous Vermells “cellar” is the garage of Silvia’s house in the Priorat village of Poboleda, a building that also serves as Silvia’s home and her husband’s (Belgian chef Pieter Truyt) restaurant – Brots Restaurant.

In this tiny space, Silvia does everything by hand. She tends the 10 or so barrels stacked in the space carefully, tasting and re-tasting to learn how each is developing and gaining a deep understanding of each cask’s unique character, strengths, and weaknesses. Multiple blending trials allow Silvia to explore how her charges work together (or don’t), and create an ideal marriage that lets each site and varietal shine without fighting or overwhelming each other.

Even the packaging is by hand! Silvia dips each bottle in wax by hand and decorates each cardboard six-pack with a unique, often whimsical, drawing in pencil, pen, and marker.

New Blends for 2012
For the 2012 harvest, importers Jonas Gustafsson and Olivier Daubresse were visiting Silvia as she began her blending, and it was with their encouragement that she explored blending her best Garnacha and Cariñena into a new cuvee, one with no Syrah. The results were fantastic, but a few barrels seemed to too powerful, distinctive, and intense to be hidden in a “larger” (if you can call 700 bottles large) blend. And so Silvia produced two cuvees, each with its own Priorat story to tell.

All of this is pretty cool, but what really matters is what’s in the bottle. And our experience is that Silvia’s garage wine is really, really, good. Join us to try them with Jonas on Saturday, with these very, very, limited quantities, you’ll want to secure your allocation as quickly as you can.

Spanish Cassoulet at 2941

It’s become a tradition to do two editions of our annual cassoulet dinner, and this past Monday we were treated to the Spanish version of this annual warming treat.  Chef Bertrand of 2941 Restaurant knocked this dinner out of the park, creating the perfect combination of traditional and innovative flavors to showcase the portfolio of importer Jonas Gustafsson, who focused on wines of the Catalan regions of Spain to pair with this Spanish-inflected spin on cassoulet, called Escudella.

spanish cassoulet main 2

spanish cassoulet main 3

 

 

As an aperitif we were treated to Mas Estela’s Vinya Selva del Mar Blanca, whose blend of Garnacha Blanca and Muscat were the perfect combination of minerality (from the Garnacha) and lush aromatics (from the Muscat).  Its fans were in good company, as it was the house white of the now-closed El Bulli.

Next came three small appetizers, which included both grilled sardines and cured anchovies.  The briny fish was delicious with the Joseph Puig Terra Alta white, another Garnacha Blanca-based white.

With the main event, we enjoyed dueling reds, a red Montsant blend from Joseph Puig, and the Mas Estela Espiritu, a fuller-bodied red with a bit more bottle age.  There was some spirited debate at the table as to which was the better wine, and which was a better match with the food.  Some preferred the Joseph Puig’s freshness and purity, while others loved the Espiritu’s minerality and depth.  Both were delicious with the cassoulet’s different elements, such as lamb belly, chorizo, and, possibly most notably, the house-made blood sausage.  A certain owner of the store may or may not have finished a few guests’ blood sausage for them.  It was that good!

spanish cassoulet 2 redsBoth the French and the Spanish cassoulet dinners were wonderful, but according to those who attended both, the Spanish version really impressed for its inventiveness and bold flavors.  Bravo to Chef Bertrand Chemel, sommelier Jonathan Schuyler, and the staff at 2941 for their attentive service and fabulous food.

spanish cassoulet beans + breadIn case you missed this incredible feast, here are some of the wines that were featured:

Joseph Puig Garnatxa Blanca 2011

Joseph Puig Montsant Tinto 2011

Mas Estela Espiritu Negre 2008

What We’re Drinking

Diane enjoyed a glass of one of this past weekend’s featured wines, the Brovia 2008, a blend of four of their vineyard sites using younger vines, with a few slices of Piave, a delicious semi-firm Italian cheese.  It was a fantastic pairing, and brought back memories of her recent trip to the estate.  Brovia is a Barolo estate for Burgundy lovers – rather than power, the wines all put elegance and purity of fruit front and center – as you can see from those large casks, these wines are not about oak and flash!  The 2008 is perfumed, accessible, sweetly-fruited, and just plain delicious.

alex sanchez

Randy enjoyed the Grammys with a celeriac soup, swirled with creme fraiche and topped with a few chiles.  With this delicious concoction, he pulled out a bottle of the 2010 Louis Michel Chablis 1er Cru Forets.  Subtle, elegant, with intense minerality, this is a wine that has a long life ahead of it, but is delicious now as well.  Stay tuned for news on the 2011 single-vineyard releases from Louis Michel – they are not to be missed!  We’ve got the 2011 village Chablis in stock if this has got you itching for a preview.

Last night Doug opened a relatively new wine for us, the Joseph Puig 2011 Montsant, and reports that it was a cheery companion to steak sandwiches with caramelized onions, charred red peppers and swiss cheese.  The flavors are juicy and uncomplicated now, but this will be peaking just in time for hamburger grilling season.  We can’t wait!

So, what are you drinking?

Powerful Priorat With Jonas Gustafsson

   

Priorat, a small region in Northern Spain, has only recently gained notoriety among critics and wine lovers.  Though it’s home to some of the oldest vines in Spain, most of them weren’t being used to make premium wine until a few decades ago.

In telling the story of Priorat, Jonas Gustafsson of Vin de Terra Imports wove in the story of his own import company, as Priorat was the first region he began importing after falling in love with it and its singular wines.  Though when he started his company he aimed for only two producers per region, for Priorat he had to make an exception.  We tasted the wines of three different producers: Vinedos de Ithaca, Celler Cecilio, and Billo, and they all fit his more important criteria for each expressing something different about the region.

Though Priorat is known for its powerful reds, the evening started with two whites, one from the humble Macabeo grape, and the other a Garnacha Blanca that was like an even more mineral white Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  Both whites were from Sylvia Puig of Vinedos de Ithaca.

From there we delved into the reds, starting with Sylvia’s purple label Priorat 2009, and following it up with a different take on the same vintage from Celler Cecilio.  Though the two wineries are close to each other geographically, the similarities end there.  The Vinedos de Ithaca Priorat was exuberantly lush and full bodied, while the Celler Cecilio was a leaner, earthier take on Priorat.

   

The wine of the night for many was the Vinedos de Ithaca Odysseus Black Label 2007.  If you want to taste a wine that exemplifies the kind of power and concentration people associate with Priorat, this is the wine for you.  Powerful and inky but never heavy, with a finish that just didn’t quit, it was a wonderful way to end the evening.  Thanks to Jonas Gustafsson for sharing his expertise and beautiful wines – be sure to check out the links below to see what you missed!

   

Vinedos de Ithaca Odysseus Priorat Garnacha Blanca 2010

Celler Cecilio Negre Priorat 2009

Vinedos de Ithaca Akyles Priorat 2009

Vinedos de Ithaca Odysseus Priorat 2004

Billo Desnivell Priorat 2009

Celler Cecilio L’Espill Priorat 2004

Vinedos de Ithaca Odysseus Black Label 2007