Bodegas Mas Alta Black Slate La Vilella Alta 2010
Other Red Blends from Priorat, Spain
The inspiration for the Black Slate Project is a Burgundian concept of village nomenclature, applied to the Priorat. One region, nine historic villages, each with its distinct character but all unmistakably Priorat. Sun scorched vines cling to breathtakingly steep hillsides with their roots deeply plunged in the llicorella soils of this pristine, ancient region.
Bodegas Mas Alta is a joint project with renowned Rhone negociant and winemaker, Michel Tardieu, and noted French enologist, Philippe Cambie. It is located in the middle of D.O.C. Priorat, based in the village of Vilella Alta. The estate vineyards are high density plantings at approximately 1050 feet above sea level, in front of Serra del Montsant, a mountain range that reaches 3300 feet. Very steep and abrupt, the altitude, inclination, and slopes make a decisive influence on grape's maturity. The vineyards of La Viella Alta are situated on steep slopes of slates alongside of what once was the river of Escaladei. The heat of south-facing vineyards combing with the cooler north-facing parcels to create a well-balanced wine with ripe fruit and softness.
Varieties: 60% Grenache Noir, 35% Carignan and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Age of Vines: 15- 60 years old
The Wine Advocate - "When’s the last time anyone found a Priorat rated over 90 points for under $25 a bottle? A project of acclaimed Rhone Valley winemakers Philippe Cambie and Michel Tardieu from one of Priorat’s nine villages, La Vilella Alta, the 2010 Black Slate was fashioned from 60% Garnacha, 35% Carignan and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 12 months in French oak, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Notes of graphite, blueberry liqueur, raspberries, crushed rocks and spring flowers jump from the glass of this inky/purple-colored wine. It possesses fabulous intensity, a multidimensional mouthfeel, supple tannins and a long finish. The natural alcohol pushes 16%, and there are 1,000 cases exported to the United States. It should keep for 5-10+ years. Priorat wines such as this normally sell for over $100 a bottle."
Bodegas Mas Alta Winery
Based in the traditional village of Vilella Alta, BODEGAS MAS ALTA is the culmination of five Belgian partners' common desire to produce a great wine. This dream is now taking shape thanks to the advice of Michel Tardieu and Philippe Cambie, and as the result of the work done by a passionate team every day.
Choice of vineyard is crucial for the production of highly expressive wines that combine character and elegance. We have planted some 35 hectares of vines since 1999 on land classified as being part of the DOQ PRIORAT, carefully selecting the plots in so doing. In fact most of our vineyard is planted at altitude, on slate. Depending on the plot's characteristics, we either plant varieties traditional to this region – carignan and grenache – or varieties such as cabernet sauvignon or shiraz. These young vines, whose potential quality is already very promising, represent the future of BODEGAS MAS ALTA: We also purchase grapes from local winegrowers, often from the village, to make our wines. These winegrowers are the custodians of Priorat's traditional heritage.
In fact the essence of our vintages – old vines – comes from these winegrowers. Vines aged 50 years and more naturally produce fewer grapes, the first step towards quality wine...
Their deep, well-established roots thus enable them to achieve full maturity, consistency, less dependence on climatic conditions. It is without question the ultimate, pure expression of the terroir. View all Bodegas Mas Alta Wines
About PrioratView a map of Priorat wineries (pree-ohr-aht) Spain, sparking envy among collectors. The region has become something of a cult wine producer, creating wines that cost up to 5 times that of a quality Rioja. The region has a special soil, called llicorella made of a brown slate mixed together with rocks. Mountains surround the area and the vines are tended by hand.
Notable FactsThe red wines here are based on Garnacha, and produce inky wine with intense fruit flavors of blackberry and plums, not to mention a required minimum of 13.5% alcohol. The secondary grape of the region is Carinena (Carignan in France). This grape has lost favor in most parts of the world due to its rustic nature, but here in Priorat it's a welcome structural addition to the Garnacha based wines.
The most popular red varieties of Spain include Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache). Whites don't garner quite as much recognition, but there are some regional varieties not to be missed, like Albarino and Verdejo. The popular red regions of Spain include Rioja, known for its outstanding wines of the Tempranillo grape; Ribera del Duero, producing high quality reds from Tempranillo and Garnacha; Galacia, with the sub-region of Rias Baixas, home to the deliciously crisp and floral Albarino grape; and Priorat, a region increasing in popularity with its high-quality cult reds. Other regions of note are Rueda, growing the Verdejo grape, La Mancha, a wide desert region, covered in the most planted white variety in the world, Airen, and Jumilla, making wines based on Monastrell (Mourvedre).
Spain's wine laws are based on the Denominacion de Origen (DO) classification system, devised in the 1930's. A four tiered system, the most basic level is Vina de Mesa (table wine) followed by Vino de la Tierra (country wine), DO and at the top DOC. Currently, only Rioja and Priorat have DOC status, while over 65 DO's scatter the country.
Most DO regions are classified and regulated by how long they age the wines. On a red wine label, one may find the terms Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, denoting the wine's barrel and bottle time. Crianza is usually two years between barrel and bottle (the time in each depends on the DO and/or the winemaker), Reserva up to 4 years and Gran Reserva 5 – 6 years. Classifications of each region and wine are controlled by the region's Consejo Regulador.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.
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