PRIORAT WINE TOUR
Priorat is small, dry, mountainous wine region, and pretty much unsuitable for any other type of agriculture.
Winemaking records in Priorat date back to 1163 when Carthusian monks (who had acquired winemaking techniques from France), farmed the land in Priorat for nearly 700 years until 1835, when all land was subsequently claimed and redistributed by the state.
With the arrival of Phylloxera, towards the end of the 19th century, Priorat vineyards were destroyed causing economic ruin for the winemakers and mass emigration of the population like many other wine regions across Spain and the rest of Europe. Replanting only began again during the 1950s, and the DO Priorat wine region was formally created soon after in 1954.
However it was only during the late 80s that quality wine production was introduced to the region. Due to the success of a small group of pioneering group of winemakers, Priorat was elevated from DO to DOQ appellation status in 2000 by the Catalan authorities. National DOCa recognition followed later in 2009 from the Spanish government (although technically both appellations were very similar). As of 2018, there are close to 100 wineries across 1,800 hectares (4,400 acres) of vineyards in the region.
Working the vineyards here is complicated, demanding and a costly, as the vines are situated along spectacular terraces cut in to the steep mountains.
The iconic llicorella slate soils also provide excellent growing conditions which are transformed into highly acclaimed wines. Priorat wines are known for their marked character and extraordinary complexity.
The dominant grape plantings in Priorat are Garnacha and Cariñena, and these grape varieties provide the backbone of nearly all Priorat reds. Many of the Cariñena bush vines in Priorat are centenarian vines, which reduce the crop yield signfificantly but make for very intensely flavoured and usually red-fruit driven wines.
The other grapes that can be combined to create typical Priorat blends are the usual French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. A little bit of Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir can be found here as well.