You are currently viewing the International Edition. You can also switch to the Hong Kong Edition.
Monday 6 July 2015

Priorat divided over flagship grape

22nd November, 2012 by Lucy Shaw

Winemakers in the northeastern Spanish region of Priorat are becoming increasingly divided over the region’s two flagship grapes: Garnacha and Cariñena.

Firmly back in favour over international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, winemakers are chosing to champion one or the other.

Priorat pioneer Alvaro Palacios is the chief flag-bearer for Garnacha in Gratallops and is steadily increasing the percentage of old vine Garnacha in his top wines, L’Ermita and Finca Dofi.

“Garnacha is the queen bee of Priorat. I’ve had amazing results in the last three years with it,” he told the drinks business.

“The wines are magical, heartbreakingly good. Garnacha reflects the nuances of the terroir in which it grows and manages to transform Priorat’s heat into fresh, vibrant wines.

“I’m not interested in Cabernet or Syrah, we have to defend our historic grapes,” he added.

Like Palacios, Daphne Glorian, owner of Clos Erasmus, is shifting her focus back to old vine Garnacha for her top wine, with the ultimate goal to get as close to 100% Garnacha as possible.

Berry Bros & Rudd’s Spanish wine buyer Simon Field MW is full of praise for how old vine Garnacha performs in Priorat.

“It has a depth of flavour and exquisite texture reminiscent of Château Rayas in the Rhône. The best become ethereal and Pinot Noir-like in age, sharing its red fruit profile and aromatic harmony,” he told db.

South African Eben Sadie meanwhile, favours Cariñena at Terroir Al Limit in Torroja with his top two single vineyard wines, Les Tosses and Arbossar.

Alvaro Palacios

“Cariñena is sturdy and flowers well. The era of Cabernet and Syrah in Priorat has subsided,” Sadie told db.

“It’s time to go back to the region’s roots. We don’t need to be modern or international, we need to be true and make wine that has the imprint of the terroir’s DNA,” he added.

Siding with Sadie, Victor de la Serna, deputy editor of Spanish newspaper El Mundo, believes the role of Garnacha has “diminished” in Priorat in recent years.

“There has been growing awareness that Garnacha’s high alcohol is turbo-charged to even greater heights when grown on Priorat’s hot llicorella soils, often making for fearfully alcoholic monsters,” he said.

“Meanwhile, Cariñena has been embraced by many of the new growers in the region. With old vines and tiny yields, it produces elegant wines with class and minerality,” he added.

Mireia Torres of the Torres wine dynasty agrees: “Cariñena is the better fit for Priorat as it ripens slowly and is more balanced than Garnacha, giving rise to wines with an interesting fruit structure that acts as a backbone,” she told db.

Her top wine, Perpetual, is made from 100-year-old Cariñena vines, while the proportion of Cariñena in second wine Salmos is increasing every year.

An in-depth look at Priorat will appear in the drinks business Spain 2012 report, out next month.

2 Responses to “Priorat divided over flagship grape”

  1. Mike Potashnik, Publisher, International Wine Review says:

    From our extensive research on Priorat,and our tastings it is pretty clear that old vines Grenache and Carignan make beautiful wines and there is really little or no need to blend in Cabernet Sauvignon, except perhaps to add a little structure in some wines, if needed. Daphne Glorian, Eban Sadiie and Alvaro Palacios are just a few of the producers crafting superb wines of character and refinement from the terroir of Priorat. We also like the wines of Capafons-Osso, Clos Figuers, Clos Mogador, Costers del Siurana/Clos l’ Obac, Vall Llach among others. We would be happy to share our in-depth report # 28 Wines of Priorat with you and your readers and we will look froward to your publication. Best wishes

  2. Looking forward to reading the in depth article. You really have your fingers on the pulse on what is happening in Priorat. I think an aspect to consider is actually where the vineyards are located. With the Priorat’s microclimates, sometimes Grenache works better than Carignan and vice versa. Alvaro’s Hermita vineyard is in Gratallops, which is hot, but it is on a north facing slope, making it cooler….what I am sure you will have covered in the article to come is the new category of Vins de Vila which aims to differentiate terroirs and contrasts within the D.O. What for me makes the Priorat so exciting is the contrast between wines from village to village. This coupled with each producer’s clear and also contrasting ideas means that we are never bored here in Priorat wine country!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

If that's interesting, how about these?

The London Wine Fair in pictures

From red trews and foie gras macaroons to 2CVs, wine on tap and temporary more...

Top 10 estates for en primeur returns

db rounds up the 10 best Bordeaux estates for en primeur returns on more...

Top 10 architectural wonders of the wine world

You don't have to look far to find stunning examples of architectural prowess more...

PR Manager


Suntory's exquisite 3D-printed ice cubes

As far as advertising campaigns go, this collection of miniature ice cube more...

How to become a 'wine expert' in four hours

A doctor of psychology has devised 10 simple steps which he claims can set you more...

Top 10 wine brands 2015

In a year that saw major shifts in the global wine market, the drinks business more...

Sales Executive - Wines & Spirits Competitions

London, United Kingdom


Best value wines of Bordeaux 2014

A roundup of the wines expected to be the best value under £500-a-case this en more...

10 richest people in the UK drinks trade

As The Sunday Times Rich List 2015 reveals the wealthiest individuals in more...

Top 10 US craft breweries

The Brewers Association has released its annual list of the biggest US craft more...

Hatch Mansfield – Brand Manager

London, United Kingdom

Competitive salary

Top 10 modern wine drinker stereotypes

From Rioja lovers to Champagne quaffers, the drinks business has more...

Rioja a ‘victim of its own success’

Rioja has become a victim of its own success, unsustainably driven by low more...

Top 10 Negroni spots in London

As the Campari Red Night District takes over London's Shoreditch, we round up more...

Social Media Editor


Top 10 ways to reuse a wine bottle

If you are anything like the db team, it won't take long to amass a collection more...

Top wines of Bordeaux 2014

The 10 best wines of the Bordeaux 2014 vintage as voted for by Liv-ex’s more...

World's most extravagant wineries

With Château Margaux preparing to unveil its new winery and cellar, designed more...

E-commerce, Sales & Marketing Executive

London, United Kingdom

Competitive salary and bonus package based on experience and qualification.

Top 12 Australian fine wines

Australian fine wines have made the headlines of late. But what are the names more...

Top 10 new products

This month's top releases include a Champagne tankard designed by Pol Roger, more...

Top 10 worst estates for en primeur returns

Using Liv-ex's data, db rounds up the worst 10 châteaux for en primeur more...

Marketing and eCommerce Manager

London, United Kingdom

Competitive, includes equity options

Top 10 banned alcoholic drinks

The drinks trade has seen its fair share of drinks banned from public more...

Fascinating facts worth knowing about beer

Think you know everything about beer? This collection of beer-related facts more...