Garnatxa is the pretty one, the Pinot Noir of the Priorat. She is feminine and transparent, anxious to reveal the story of her life. She is round and happy, with seductive spice. She tends to lack acid, tannins and color, which is why she often gets blended with Carinyena. But the dry, hot terroir of the Priorat gives her the perfect stage for presenting her seductive charms. Her silky texture swirls across the palate, calling forth sensations of earthy sweet chocolate, wild herbs, lavender and violets. Roasted red and black fruit reveal her delicious sweetness.
The wines of the Priorat extend an invitation to sit and listen to the story of their lives. The flavors take you on a journey into the earth, collecting echoes of history along the way. The vines of the Priorat and the people who care for them tell a story of survival and the will to drink deeply of life.
The language of the senses is not communicated through words. We try so hard to find the right nouns and adjectives to express a flavor, a smell, a memory, yet, as Hugh Johnson so aptly put it, “words follow lumberingly after the clear, precise, yet indefinable impressions of the tongue.” Wine is an elusive language that has no form.
Those who have visited the Priorat find themselves in awe of the aliveness of the landscape. It stands to reason that its wines communicate with similar vitality. The energy of wine is documented. Nothing else in nature is capable of giving us so much. Perhaps this is why wine has remained a significant and often controversial part of human history since it was first enjoyed.
Critics and winemakers focus on terroir these days. The distinguishing characteristic of a great wine is sense of place, and minerality is argued to be at its core. If this is true, the wines of the Priorat have it all: història (a story), sense of place and minerality. So, argue as one might about its virtues, a Priorat wine merely has to focus on being itself.
Wine drinkers today are more adventurous, irreverent even. They are willing to try new things, explore the recommendations of friends and ignore the opinions of “authorities.” For the Priorat, this is a good thing, allowing the wines to speak for themselves and letting people receive their own version of the stories relayed in that intangible language of the senses.
Ethos Priorat is vividly panoramic. It is best viewed in landscape format to fully enjoy the experience.