22 Mar The Priorat
Catalina the Influencer accompanies us...
o Priorat to try to contextualise its wines with everything that surrounds it. To do so, we are going to look at the region (territorial area) itself, the orography and the grape varieties. It is difficult to understand Priorat without its viticulture. A long history helps us to understand it as a respectful and complicit process with the natural environment. The treatment that has always been given to agriculture in this land has remained almost unchanged until recent times. But let's take a look at these particularities!
First rarity, we find a continental climate, a strange case being 70 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea. In summer it is dry and very hot, while in winter it is very cold and snowy.
Secondly, the soil is mainly slate. A compact, well-defined landscape, formed by the great mountainous amphitheatre that opens up at the foot of the Montsant mountain range and the Llaberia mountain range. We are talking about rock from 400 million years ago.
Thirdly, it is the territory of the "Llicorella": from hills with gentle ridges to slopes with impracticable gradients. In this situation the only way to grow vines is by means of "costers" (slopes) with such steep slopes that in some cases "terraces" have to be built. How daring were the first winegrowers who embarked on this titanic task! It is not for nothing that the nickname "heroic agriculture" is used. The configuration of the cultivation is characterized by slopes that exceed 15% slope in most cases, and some farms reach 60%. Due to the tortuous geography of the area, the machinery does not reach the "costers" and forces our winegrowers to work in the most traditional way.
Fourth rarity: due to the peculiar terroir and climate, the vines suffer considerably and, as a consequence, the harvests are rather scarce, with rather low grape yields (no more than 1 kg. per plant on average), but which give the wines their unique identity. These vineyards normally have very old vines, of indigenous varieties, from which high quality wines are made. Garnacha and Cariñena are the star varieties of these landscapes.
And speaking of vines, they are grown at altitudes ranging from 100 metres above sea level in the lowest parts of Bellmunt del Priorat and El Molar (where the Celler Grifoll Declara is located) to 750 metres above sea level in the higher parts of Morera de Montsant and Porrera (where the Giol Porrera winery is located). On the banks of the river Siurana, where the Celler Escoda Palleja is located, in Torroja or Clos Pachem in Gratallops, the headquarters of the agricultural cooperative and the Consell Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Cualificada (DOQ) Priorat.
The landscape generated by these vineyards is one of the characteristics of the Priorat, which gives it its own personality and identity, and this landscape and these characteristics are the personality and identity of the DOQ Priorat wines.