Grenache and Carignan, the DNA of DOQ Priorat
Vine cultivation is distributed at altitudes ranging from 100 meters above sea level in the lower parts of the districts of Bellmunt del Priorat and el Molar, up to 750 meters in the highlands of La Morera de Montsant and Porrera. The winegrowing is characterised by slopes that have a gradient of more than 15% in most cases although some wine estates reach 60%.
The tortuous geography of this area means that many vineyards are worked as “costers” (Catalan word meaning steep slope) which are so steep than in some areas terraces have been built. Some of these terraces are so narrow that there is only space for two rows of vines, meaning that the vineyard cannot be worked with farm machinery. The resulting landscape, which these vineyards provide us with are one of the defining characteristics of the Priorat, giving it a distinctive personality
Born of the soil and the region’s specific climate, vines planted here tend to suffer and as a result harvest yields are very low – at less than 1 kg per plant on average. This however means that the wines produced in this area have a very unique personality.
The harvest period tends to last a long time: it starts around the middle of September in Bellmunt and El Lloar and continues until the end of October or the beginning of November in Porrera and La Morera de Montsant. The long fermentation period of very ripe grapes enables winemakers to obtain a series of very rich components from each grape, facilitating a very comprehensive skin maceration period.
The recommended and permitted varietals of the DOQ Priorat are the following:
Recommended red varietals: Grenache, Carignan.
Permitted red varietals: Hairy Grenache, Tempranillo, Piquepoul, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah.
White varietals: White Grenache, Macabeu, Pedro Ximénez, Chenin Blanc, Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Xarello, Piquepoul.
The most planted grape varieties in the Priorat are red ones. Carinyena (Carignan) and Garnatxa (Grenache) are the most important native varieties.