Carinyena appears also to have come from the Kingdom of Aragon, most likely from the area named Cariñena. From Spain it migrated to the western Mediterranean regions and the New World. At one time it was the most widely planted grape in France, but in 1988 Europe experienced a wine glut and growers were paid to pull up vines. This significantly reduced the amount of Carinyena in France.
The popularity of Carinyena is due to the fact that it is minimally susceptible to viticultural problems. It has often been grown for its high volume and high alcohol, which is also why it has had very little respect. But in the Priorat the challenges of the terroir keep the vigor down and allow the grapes the time they need to mature fully. Carinyena also grows vertically and aerates well when grown in the traditional bush method. The Priorat’s old vines have had the time the variety needs to develop its full expression.
The Priorat vine says, “I have lived a long time on the side of this mountain, season after season, year after year. I have endured scorching heat, scathing winds, scarce or late rains or worse. I have witnessed triumphs and tragedies, struggled and thrived, been loved and forgotten, and still, I am here. I am a journey into the earth in search of nourishment that is mine as much as it is man’s. Survival is the will to drink deeply of life.”
No other fruit can express the distinction of its origins more than a wine grape that becomes wine. There are basic responsibilities that growers must attend to in order to ensure that sense of place. They must understand their land, respect it and cultivate it with consideration for sustainably. They must do whatever they can to encourage the vines to have a vivid voice. The better the growers know their vines, the more time spent with them, the more they will reveal. It is like any intimate relationship. Day in, day out, observing, understanding each other’s moods — over time the vines become part of the family, an integral part of life.
Biodynamics, pruning, tilling of the soil, treatments and the disposition of the moon offer viticultural choices made by knowledge and observation. For some, the decisions are a matter of course because that is how it has been for generations. For others who have more ideals than practical experience, there is a lot to learn. Engaged in the work of the vineyard, listening to nature, warmed by the heat of the sun, lost in a metaphysical schism of time — it may be hard work but there is a rhythm to this life, a balance of existence in which everyone and everything has its role and supports the other.
Ethos Priorat is vividly panoramic. It is best viewed in landscape format to fully enjoy the experience.