Clos Figueres Priorat 2004
The location is just to the north of Gratallops on terraced slopes of pure schist, the soil responsible for the finest wines of Priorat. From these high terraces, the views are wonderful...in one direction the famous Ermita vineyard and the craggy Montsant mountain range behind it; in the other a long-distance vista featuring the Ebro Valley and more mountains beyond.
"The 2004 Clos Figueres, from the vineyard's older vines, is a knockout starting with its saturated purple color, intense nose of vanilla, spice box, blackberries and blueberry liqueur, and layered, concentrated flavors. Full-bodied, with ripe tannins and a very long finish, this showy effort should evolve splendidly for 5-7 years and drink well for 10-15 years thereafter."
"Deep ruby. Ripe, concentrated aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant, boysenberry, tobacco, fresh rose, iron and sexy oak spices. Deep and lush, with striking sweetness and big but finely buffed tannins framing the sweet dark berry, mocha and floral pastille flavors. Gentle acids provide energy and precision, giving elegance to this powerful, tangy wine. Finishes youthfully taut."
-International Wine Cellar
René Barbier's team takes care of the vineyards as well as the vinification and ageing of the wines. Clos Figueres now ranks with the best of Priorat, while the second wine, Font de la Figuera, represents remarkable value for the region. Recently, they have also launched production of a unique and exciting white Priorat, based on rich Garnacha Blanca, with 10% Viognier to add lift and aromatic 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.