Two superstar Priorat from Terroir Al Limit
They really don’t get much coverage here in Australia, but for my money the stunning Carignan and Grenache (or Carinena and Garnacha) based reds of Priorat are right up there amongst the great wines of the world. What’s more, the wines of Terroir Al Limit rate amongst the finest examples out there.
Undoubtedly what makes the wines of Terroir Al Limit special is the Priorat terroir. Think gnarled old bush vines; steep slopes at some altitude; minimal topsoil over low nutrient licorella slate/quartz; hot summers and cold winters.
Tough conditions, and genuinely terroir at the limit
Intriguingly, Terroir Al Limit was set up by outsiders, started by the famed South African dynamo Ebin Sabie and young German Dominik Huber, working alongside Spanish grower and co-owner Jaume Sabate.
The winemaking is real nouveau revivalist stuff too – concrete tanks (rather than barriques); biodynamic grapegrowing; mules in the vineyard and minimal filtrations or additions.
Little wonder that these wines get such ridiculously high scores. They’re seriously big wines too. Big…
The real challenge with Terroir Al Limit though – and indeed the best from Priorat – is the price. Both of these reds sell for upwards of AUD $140 (over double that for the Les Manyes) if indeed you can get your hands on any. When compared with the best Chateauneuf – where these wines are naturally aligned – that’s not ridiculous dollars. Still, it’s a barrier to entry.
When the wines are this good though, does it really matter?
Terroir Al Limit Dits Del Tierra 2010
100% Carignan from three south facing sites, average age 80 yrs old. Some whole bunch and whole berry. Aged in a single 1800 litre French oak cask. No additions bar a little sulphur at bottling. RRP circa $180
Wow. There’s a little of the roasted slope of dried fruit here, but also herbs and very fine, sandpaper dry tannins and an extra richness through the finish. That spicy red fruit, cut with licorice and explosive blackcurrants, is ridiculously intense, the sense of finesse quite palpable even despite sky high alcohol (I’m guessing 15% though I didn’t see the bottle). Special. Special if just judged on depth and intensity alone. Swoon. 19/20, 96/100
Terroir Al Limit Les Manyes 2010
Situated at 800m, the 1.4ha 50+ year old plot used for this wine is the highest vineyard in Priorat. Almost totally Garnacha. This vineyard has more limestone and clay than the usual licorella soils. RRP circa $460
While this is the more celebrated wine (especially given the price), it was just shaded on the day by the pure Carignan. Still, wildly aromatic, bitter and super long this is an immense Grenache with both high toned fruit and serious weight. A little drying and warm perhaps, but that middle has bittersweet curranty flavours that are quite addictive. Superstar, gob-smacking power through the finish. Individual. Large, yet not fat, just seriously warm and intense. Supreme. 18.7/20, 95/100