La Cartuja Priorat 2012
Other Red Wine from Priorat, Spain
Two things make this wine unique: the quality and the price. La Cartuja proudly proclaims the identity of the flavors of Priorat. The wine is made in an approachable style to be enjoyed young. It is neither alcoholic nor overly tannic. Made with organic, estate-owned fruit, it is aged in oak barrels for only 6 months.
This wine has enough "stuffing" and structure to pair well with BBQ beef brisket or pork, grilled Argentine beef, and mesquite grilled or smoked baby back pork ribs. It also has a freshness and spice character that is a good match for Cuban roast chicken, pork with Latin spices and cracked pepper turkey.
International Wine Cellar - "(70% garnacha and 30% carinena, aged for eight months in used French oak): Opaque ruby. Blackberry, smoky minerals and a floral note on the nose. Sappy dark berry flavors show very good depth and pick up bitter cherry and licorice nuances with air. Finishes with sweet, gentle tannins, spicy persistence and nervy cut. This wine delivers very good value for a Priorat."
La Cartuja Winery
La Cartuja was founded in 2007 by Borja Osborne (from the Osborne family), Alberto Orte and Patrick Mata with the purpose in mind of making an estate-bottled wine showing the mineral complexity of Priorat at an inconceivable price (one of Ole's fortes. The single estate of 24 ha (59 acres) by the name La Solana ("Les Solanes" in Catatalan) is located in the very heart of Priorat between the towns of El Molar and El Lloar, just south west of the town of Gratallops. La Solana vineyard sits at 250m elevation with south-east facing slopes.
La Cartuja was the name assigned during medieval times, to a large geographical area governed by the Cartussian monks. This geographical area had its own code of law (similar to the Vatican estates). During medieval times Priorat as a whole was a "Cartuja". It wasn't a civil domain but a religious state. Needless to say that Priorat's winemaking heritage belongs to the Cartussian monks who tended these difficult isolated vineyards for centuries. As a side note, if you are looking for the oldest vines in Spain and the best areas to make wine look for the areas where the monks established themselves during medieval times.
What makes La Cartuja Unique?
Estate-owned small production wine; a singular location at the heart of Priorat; Organic viticulture; oak ageing is short, a Priorat wine that shows depth but drinkability while young; an extraordinary value!
Photo Credit: Friederike Paetzold, Vinimenta.com View all La Cartuja 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.