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Celler Pasanau Priorat La Morera 2001
The Pasanaus continue to cultivate the region's traditional varieties in their village of La Morera, with old-vine Garnacha alongside more recent Cabernet and Merlot plantings. Aged eight months in a mixture of new and used barriques to produce a poised, modern interpretation of the traditional Priorat style. A great vintage, bright and focused.
The Pasanau family are perennial growers in Priorat, with vineyards located in the highest municipality of the region, literally skirting the sheer rock wall of the Sierra de Montscant, which forms the Priorat's viticulture boundary to its north and west.
At over 2,400 feet, Pasanau's "Finca La Planeta" dominates the regional landscape and experiences Priorat's widest daily temperature variation. This helps to retain freshness in the concentrated, late-harvested grapes, resulting in a uniquely tight-knit, albeit typically powerful Priorat style. The long, arid growing season, as elsewhere in Priorat, severely limits yields while packing the fruit with mineral extract and complexity.
Tiny and entirely composed of craggy, jagged and deeply terraced vineyards, Priorat is a Catalan wine-producing region that was virtually abandoned until the early 1990s. Its renaissance came with the arrival of one man, René Barbier, who recognized the region’s forgotten potential. He banded with five friends to create five “Clos” in the village of Gratallops. Their aim was to revive some of Priorat’s ancient Carignan vines, as well as plant new—mainly French—varieties. These winemakers were technically skilled, well-trained and locally inspired; not surprisingly their results were a far cry from the few rustic and overly fermented wines already produced.
This movement escalated Priorat’s popularity for a few reasons. Its new wines were modern and made with well-recognized varieties, namely old Carignan and Grenache blended with Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. When the demand arrived, scarcity commanded higher prices and as the region discovered its new acclaim, investors came running from near and far. Within ten years, the area under vine practically doubled.
Priorat’s steep slopes of licorella (brown and black slate) and quartzite soils, protection from the cold winds of the Siera de Monstant and a lack of water, leading to incredibly low vine yields, all work together to make the region’s wines unique. While similar blends could and are produced elsewhere, the mineral essence and unprecedented concentration of a Priorat wine is unmistakable.
Beyond the usual suspects, there are hundreds of red grape varieties grown throughout the world. Some are indigenous specialties capable of producing excellent single varietal wines, while others are better suited for use as blending grapes. Each has its own distinct viticultural characteristics, as well as aroma and flavor profiles, offering much to be discovered by the curious wine lover. In particular, Portugal and Italy are known for having a multitude of unique varieties but they can really be found in any region.