Priorat

The Priorat wine region is located in the Catalonia region of Spain, just inland from the Mediterranean port city of Tarragona and about a two-hour drive southwest of Barcelona. The Montsant mountain chain dominates the region, with vineyards situated between 330 feet above sea level in the valleys of Bellmunt del Priorat and el Molar up to 2,500 feet above sea level on the slopes of La Morera de Montsant and Porrera.

Many vineyards are located on costers (Catalan for "steep slope") with a typical gradient of 15 percent (and up to 60 percent), so terracing is common, and vineyards are often too steep and narrow for machine-harvesting. The slate soil on the slopes is known as llicorella ("licorice," due to its dark color) and is the main feature of the soil's terroir and the success of its native grapes.

The classic Priorat wine is made from old-vine Garnacha and Cariñena, and has concentrated aromas of licorice, tar and brandied cherries.

In the year 2000, Priorat became the second region in Spain to receive the designation DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada), the highest denomination in the country. The first to receive this honor was Rioja, in 1991.

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