Deep ruby in color. This wine is clean, intense and persistent of red
fruit, strawberry jam, violets, plums and spices of vanilla, pepper and
clean toasted wood on the nose. A full-bodied wine, it is smooth in the
front with rich persistent tannins on the finish.
Scala Dei Winery
This remarkable winery dates back to the 12th
century and is surrounded by some of the
most distinctive winemaking geography in
Spain. Scala Dei (Latin for "Ladder of God")
produces wines of exceptional flavor and depth
which are among the most critically acclaimed
from Priorat, one of Spain’s smallest and most
recognized DOs. The dramatic terroir of the
region surrounding the winery is breathtakingly
steep and covered in black slate. The extremely
low yields, in some cases only two pounds of
fruit per vine, produce highly concentrated
grapes. This, together with the intense hand
labor used in Priorat, results in wines of superb
quality and explains the costliness of the
region’s wines. More than half of Priorat’s wine
production is exported.
View all Scala Dei Wines
The Catalans call it Priorat, most others in Spain say Priorato - however you choose to pronounce it, it's easy to see it has been an up-and-coming region for 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.
The 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 third largest country in production, Spain ranks first in land under vine. Diversity and innovation are the key factors bringing Spain back into the world wine market.
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.
The wine is absolutely lovely in the glass, with deep purple colors, and a nose that just exudes dark fruit, with ample aromas of ripe plum, blackberry and cassis overlaying a hint of leather and cedar. The taste is wonderfully complex, with a burst of fruit up front, lovely ripe plum, black cherry, and sweet blackberry that transition to some wonderful herb notes, along with some earthy notes of limestone and forest floor. The finish is just wonderful, as the refined tannins support a long, lush and dry finish (I know those seem like contradictory terms, but really they aren't!). See the full review on my blog here: http://allaloneonaplanetfullofpeople.blogspot.com/2013/06/2003-scala-dei-priorat.html
Most 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.