Loire Valley – Most vineyards planted on the hills around Sancerre are on south facing slopes at altitudes between 655-1,310 feet (200–400 meters). The soils around the area can be roughly classified into three categories. The far western reaches heading towards Menetou-Salon have “white” soils with clay and limestone.
Around the village of Chavignol (considered a cru of Sancerre), the soil also includes some Kimmeridgian marl. Wines from these western reaches tend to have more body and power in their flavour profile.
The third classification of soil is found around the city of Sancerre itself which includes many deposits of flint (also known as silex) that add distinctive mineral components. These wines tend to be heavily perfumed with the longest aging potential.
Priorat – You can hardly find Priorat, or Priorato in Spanish, on a map, it’s so small. This tiny Catalonian wine region covers just 4,151 acres – Rioja, in comparison, is over 150,000 acres in size – but Priorat’s impact on the world of wine is large.
Named for the local monastery, or priory, that began producing wine in the 12th century, Priorat lies inland from Tarragona in northeastern Spain. Monks of the Scala Dei (“Ladder of God”) monastery planted the hillsides around the priory with wine grapes. The vineyards flourished, thanks to the area’s fertile volcanic soil and dry summer climate, until phylloxera’s arrival in the late 1800s. Priorat’s wine industry was ruined.
Winemaking returned to Priorat in the early 1950’s, and the region became a DO in 1954.
Winemakers rediscovered the area’s unique soil, called “llicorella” in Catalan. Llicorella consists of tiny bits of slate, both red and black. Like the soils around Italy’s volcanoes, Priorat’s topsoil is perfect for grapes.
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Priorat’s unusual climate also leaves its mark on the region’s wine grapes. Summers are typically hot and dry, but winters can be cold and windy.
Priorat is quite hilly, so each vineyard seems to have its own microclimate. In some areas, the hills shelter the vines, while in others, winds from warmer areas can blow onto the grapes. Priorat’s wines reflect these distinctive pairings of soil and microclimate
Color – Pale golden
Vinification – The soil, called ‘Terres Blanches’ is a blend of two types, clay and limestone. This provides the complex expression and minerality.
Tasting notes – At first, the bouquet is discreet, then, it opens up on aromas of white fruits. The mouth is ample and perfumed.
Enjoy – ‘Seven fishes dinner’; white meats and cheeses, such as Crottin de Chavignol are all lovely pairings
Priorat La Vilella Alta
Blend of Garnatxa, Carinyena & Cabernet Sauvignon
Color – Ruby red; garnet
Vinification – From the Bodegas Mas Altas Estate; vine age ranges between 15 – 60 years; aged for 12 months in French oak, of which, 60% are new barrels
Tasting notes –The heat of the south-facing vineyards, combined with the cooler north-facing parcels, create a well-balanced wine with ripe fruit and softness
Enjoy with – Beef tenderloin; roasted meats and root vegetables are particularly good