Vall Llach Embruix 2017
Sourced from estate-owned 7- to 25-years-old vines, Vall Llach’s Embruix (pronounced Embroosh), means “bewitching” in Catalan and the name, along with the symbol of a full moon on the wine’s label, is testament to the winery’s interesting biodynamic winemaking. Deep cherry red in color with a garnet rim, this wine contains soft aromas of black plumbs, cherry liqueur, freshly milled spice (including clove and black pepper), intertwined with earthy mineral notes. Intense and concentrated for an entry-level Priorat, the Embruix de Vall Llach has well-integrated acidity, round tannins and great structure, assuring this wine will age well for many years.
Blend: 27% Garnacha, 26% Merlot, 21% Syrah, 18% Cariñena, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
This red is dense yet plush, with blackberry and espresso flavors, accented by licorice, wild herb and mineral notes. Well-integrated tannins and balsamic acidity keep this focused. Harmonious, in a savory style. Garnacha, Merlot, Cariñena, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The youngest vines contribute to the 2017 Embruix, a blend of 27% Garnacha, 26% Merlot, 21% Syrah, 18% Cariñena and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon that is ripe and juicy but has a lot less oak than in the past. It's still heady and voluptuous at 15.5% alcohol, but it somehow comes through as quite harmonious and balanced. It matured in third and fourth use 300-liter oak barrels for 12 to 14 months.
Old vines naturally produce low yields, and Vall Llach reduces yields even further through careful vineyard management for densely concentrated wines. Vineyards climb steep slate hillsides, receiving optimum sun exposure and beneficial water deprivation, further concentrating the fruit. Newer plantings of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah add complexity to the old-vine character, and the resulting wines - Vall Llach, Idus, and Embruix - have received high critical acclaim.
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.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.