Old-vine Cariñena lauded on James Suckling’s Top 100 Spain List

Old-vine Cariñena from Spain’s Priorat was exalted on American wine critic James Suckling’s ‘Top 100 Spanish Wines of 2017’ list, where 1,200 wines from the 2001 vintage to the 2015 vintage were tasted.

The majority of the wines tasted by Suckling and his team – totalling nearly 1,200 wines – are from the 2015 vintage, a “record year” in both quality and quantity, according to Wines of Spain’s vintage report, despite “intense heat” in regions like Rioja and Ribera del Duero. The latter was said to have experienced “the hottest and driest year for decades.” 

“2015 was a very hot summer, especially June, and before harvesting it rained a bit, and harvest itself was very good,” Ruth Fernández of Priorat-based boutique winery Terroir al Limit confirmed to dbHK in an email. The winery was launched by Dominik Huber in 2001 with South Africa’s Swartland pioneer, winemaker Eben Sadie. 

The winery’s ‘Les Tosses’, a single vineyard pure Cariñena, was voted No. 9 wine on the top 100 list, and was lauded by the critic as “perhaps one of the greatest Cariñena in the world” in his tasting note

First released in 2006, the wine is made from old vines of 120 years old, planted 600 metres above sea level, which in hot and dry years like 2015, helped buffer heat by retaining water and moisture in the soil. 

For the 2015 vintage, roughly 2,000 bottles were produced, Fernandez revealed.

The 2014 ‘Les Tosses’ was also on Suckling’s top 100 Spanish wines of 2016 list, but according to the critic, the 2015 vintage is better than the 2014 vintage, as the 2014 vintage in Priorat was damp and wet, creating a lot of challenges in the region especially for reds.

In addition to the ‘Les Tosses’, its Terroir al Limit Priorat ‘Pedra de Guix’ 2015 came in at No. 19 on the list, and the pure Garnacha Terroir al Limit Priorat ‘Les Manyes’ 2015 secured the No. 33.

For the top wine on Suckling’s list, the title went to Spain’s iconic Vega Sicilia’s Unico 2006. Dominio de Pingus Ribera del Duero Pingus 2015 came in 16th position.

Other high-performing 2015 vintage wines include Descendientes de J. Palacios Bierzo ‘La Faraona’ (No. 5), Descendientes de J. Palacios Bierzo Moncerbal (No. 13), Alvaro Palacios Priorat L’Ermita (No. 15) and Dominio de es Ribera del Duero ‘La Diva’ (No. 16) to name a few. 

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