Brilliant Priorat: Vall Llach 2006 (Priorat, Spain)
15.85%, Cork, $180
It’s wines like this that make me wish I was a wealthier man. Wealthy so that I could afford to buy cases of this, rather than just snaffle the odd small glass to taste…
Simply put, this is a special wine.
It’s when you look at pictures of the Vall Llach vineyard (above) that the reason for this ‘specialness’ becomes apparent. It looks amazing. Wild amazing. Think gnarled, highish altitude, old (100 years+ for the mature plantings) Carinena and Garnacha bush vines, all planted on unforgiving, 25-85%(!) schist slopes, with the ancient vines complemented by more modern Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah planted on special rock terraces.
It’s an incredibly unique environment that sits at the very edge of achievable viticulture (with not a tractor in site. Hand-everything required here) and delivers sublime wines to match.
This wine, the flagship, is a blend of 65% Carinena (Carignan), 15% Syrah, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot, the wine fermented long, slow and coolish with maximum pre and post-ferment maceration in French oak barriques and hogsheads for 12 months.What’s most remarkable about this red blend is that – despite the hostile rocky soils and slopes, roasting climate and the obvious ripeness of the style – this retains minerality and freshness. It’s hugely rich and massively concentrated, all braised meat and dried black fruit, the flavours ultra compact and firm, yet also with a sparkling minerally finish. The ultra firm, multi-layered palate has a chewiness to it and also a sense of liveliness, the sign of vines in balance.Simply put, I was compelled. Seems more like 14.5% alcohol rather than 15.8%. Further, I struggle to describe the perfect shape of those tannins. They’re refreshing tannins actually, dry and firm yet lively. Come-back-for-more tannins that are too wide and broad to be Bordeaux and probably closer to Amarone tannins if anything. But brilliant.
Obviously this is not a wine for the faint hearted, yet it also feels rather perfect in its expression of sandy, rocky soils, ridiculous slopes and altitude, ultimately making for a bloody delicious and wonderfully intriguing wine. I’d love some of this in my cellar so very very much.
Score: 18.7/20 95/100
Would I buy it? I’m thinking about buying some in the UK as it is that much cheaper over there..