THURSDAY NIGHT TASTING 6-8PM: WINE VS. WINE
Montsant vs. Priorat Smackdown: The Red & the Black!
This is the next in a series we like to call Wine vs. Wine! Tonight we’re joined but our good friend Ben Carson from Olé Imports, and he’ll pour you through a couple of wines from each of these exciting regions in Catalonia. They’re both Dandelion favorites, just like Ben, who’s recently returned from another of his many many trips to that country. While things are changing in these regions as everywhere, we generally think of Priorat and Montsant as BIG REDS. Priorat is among the most rocky terroir in the world – the soil here is referred to as Licorella – and the wines are primarily made from old vine Garnacha (aka Grenache) and Carinyena (aka Carignan). They tend to be brooding and deep, requiring a good decanting before drinking and they’re on the expensive side. Wines from Montsant (championed by Dandelion for a long time now) are more approachable and more affordable as a rule, though the primary grapes here are the same. The region is larger and more diverse, wrapping around Priorat, and offering a wider array of soils as well as styles. You can think of Priorat as a sub-region of Montsant, and many people think of Montsant as a more affordable alternative to Priorat. We think these two regions each have their own splendor. If Garnacha in Priorat is black, Garnacha in Montsant is red. Come to the Lions Club tonight and learn more about these amazing places and the fantastic wines they produce.
Let there be WINE, WINE, BREAD, CHEESE, and VINYL!
IN THE RING FOR MONTSANT:
Pinyolet, Montsant Garnacha 2016
This Mediterranean Garnacha is a stand-by here at Dandelion – we recommend it all the time! And it’s not just us: fancy wine writers like this modest bottle too. The price is a steal and the quality of the wine is impressive, coming from old vines tended in the sought after pinyolet soil of Montsant. A pinyolet is a pebble of limestone that results from the erosion of boulders only found in the upper hills here. If the best wines in Priorat are produced from Licorella soils, the most singular wines from Montsant are produced from vines tended in pinyolet soils. These pebbles of limestone communicate an element of minerality and brightness that is unique. Montsant is cooler and higher in elevation than Priorat, allowing Garnacha to retain more acidity and make wines that are uplifted, floral, full of tension, and elegant. The Pinyolet shows rich strawberry and raspberry fruit intermixed with notes of licorice, spice, crushed rock and earth, all offered in a medium to full-bodied, heady style. This wine is easy-to-drink, and its juicy character pairs nicely with a variety of red and white meats; lamb is truly perfect here. Organic and vegan. $17
Joan d’Anguera, Montsant Altaroses 2017
Joan d’Anguera makes some exciting things in Montsant, an area (surrounding Priorat) and when we tasted the Altaroses, well… actually it wasn’t just us. Joan was showing his wines on a visit to New York and literally everyone in the room wanted to buy this wine – but it wasn’t available! Just a preview. Our hearts sank. But now it’s here! Pure, beautiful Garnatxa – dear to our Lion’s heart – with gorgeous light red fruit, floral notes, and perfectly integrated tannins. Delicate, yet powerful. A biodynamic dream “naturally cold-stabilized by winter’s chill”. Organic, biodynamic, natural. $25
IN THE RING FOR PRIORAT:
Bodegas La Cartuja, Priorat 2016
Priorat is special due to the unmistakable mineral identity that the licorella (volcanic slate) imparts in its wines. Here the mineral flavors of the place overpower the natural flavors of the grape. The objective here was to capture the mineral identity of this place in wine that’s approachable in youth at an inconceivable price. When we first tasted this wine, a smile came to our faces for just this reason. La Cartuja is a fresh vision of Priorat, a wine that is young and accessible. During medieval times, La Cartuja was the name given to a large geographical area governed by the Carthusian monks. The whole of Priorat was a “Cartuja,” a religious state rather than a civil domain. And Priorat’s winemaking heritage began with these Carthusian monks. For centuries they performed the backbreaking work necessary to care for these difficult, isolated vineyards. 70% Garnacha, 30% Mazuelo (AKA Cariñena); organic. $20
“Ripe dark berries, licorice, smoky minerals and a hint of succulent flowers on the perfumed nose. Juicy, round and open-knit; a peppery note adds lift and cut to warm blackberry, bitter cherry and licorice pastille flavors. The long, mineral finish shows very good focus and closes on a youthfully tannic note, leaving cherry pit and floral notes behind.”(Josh Raynolds)
Mas Martinet, Bru Priorat 2016
Priorat is a wild region, of steep, terraced vineyards that date to Roman times. Its typical terroir is composed mainly of ragged and broken slate (schist, or llicorella in the Catalan dialect), lending distinct character and finesse to the region’s best wines. Sara Perez is a dedicated wine maker whose efforts faithfully reflect the grapes, the terroir, and the year, every year. This racy, lean entry has dense black fruit and tell-tale licorella minerality, but above all it’s the grace on display here that really makes heads turn. Red wines from Priorat are muscular to be sure but this one’s more gynmast that javelin hurler. Like many wines from the region, there are “international” grapes in the blend as well as the traditional staples, in this case Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot round out the Garnatxa and Carinyena. Organic. $34