12 Wines for the Holidays: Take it to the Limit with Priorat

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2014 Terroir al Limit Vila Torroja, Priorat, Spain $46

I’ve always wanted to visit the region of Priorat and take in with my own eyes those majestic terraced vineyards and rocky soil and terrain that somehow magically yield those dark, dense and rich purple wines that I love so much. A colleague once described it as like getting getting blood from a stone. There is indeed almost a miraculous energy and air to the wines of Priorat, even the ancient monks recognized it. Winemaking dates back at least as far as the 12th Century, when monks of the Carthusian Order established a the Priorato dei Scala Dei monastery and planted vineyards there. The monastery's ruins can still be visited today. Soil is of paramount importance to Priorat winemakers. The region's flagship soil type is llicorella, a free-draining, nutrient-poor soil made up of partially-decomposed slate and quartz. Llicorella is the Catalan name for slate. Predominant grape varieties grown in the region include Garnacha, Carinena, Merlot, Syrah and of course Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Vi de Vila Torroja is Dominik Huber’s “village” wine and among his reds, the only one where he blends Grenache with Carinena. It comes from several vineyards ranging in age from 50–75 years old located around the village of Torroja which are on primarily classic llicorella soils in addition to a portion of the Grenache planted on much scarcer limestone clay. Mineral drenched with notes of dried herbs, red currants and black plums.