PASANAU Finca la Planeta 2004 Priorat
Some of Spain’s most inspiring red wines are made in Priorat, an isolated DO zone in Cataluna inland from Tarragona. Its Spanish rather than native Catalan name is Priorato. In the 1990s, a true revolution engulfed the region, where production methods for Priorat had barely altered since the 12th century when the Carthusian monks first established the priority after which the wine is named. Priorat is one of the world’s few 1st class wines to be made from Garnacha (Grenache), together with some of the unfashionable Carinena(Carignan). The age of the vines and concomitantly extremely low yields, which average just 5 or 6 hl/ha, undoubtedly contribute to the intensity and strength of Priorat. Under the hot Mediterranean sun, grapes ripen to a potential alcohol of up to 18%, although in the 1990s this was steadfastly reduced.
Poor, stony soils derived from the underlying Slate and Quartz, called locally llicorella, support only the most meagre of crops. Mechanization is almost impossible and many steeply terraced smallholdings had been abandoned in recent years as the rural population left to find work on the coast. The success of the new wave Priorat is slowly reviving the vineyards, however.
The region is dominated by Co-operatives but there is an increasing number of well-equipped estates, traditionally led by Scala Dei. In the 1980s, Rene Barbier, the scion of the Franco-Spanish wine-making family, recognizing Priorat’s potential for top-quality red wines, located some particularly promising vineyard sites, renamed Clos. Such French vine varieties as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and some Pinot Noir were planted. A group of private growers took over. The wines of Rene Barbier(Clos Mogador), Costers del Siurana(Clos de l’Obac), Alvaro Palacios(Finca Dofi, L’Ermita), Mas Martinet(Clos Martinet) and Clos&Terrasses(Clos Erasmus) had won worldwide acclaim by the late 1990s. Complex blends including small proportions of French varieties, careful wine-making, and aging in new French oak barrels were the key innovations. Scala Dei joined in this quality drive, with other small estates jumping on the bandwagon by the mid 1990s. By the mid 2000s there were more than 50 bodegas in Priorat. The wines must reach a minimum alcoholic strength of 13.5% to qualify as Priorat. /*/
I am a big fan of wines from Priorat and Montsant. Montsant is an area within Priorat DO that started to produce outstanding wines. I had several bottles from these 2 regions lately so I will start to post tasting notes about the rest shortly. For now:
Pasanau Finca la Planeta 2004
Price level: 22-25 €. Alcohol – 14.5%. Purchased from Madrid, Spain.
80% Cabernet Sauvignon 20% Grenache, very atypical Priorat wine.
The wine is opaque with a dark purple color and Port like appearance. The nose is sweet with nice minerality, pleasant greenness and spiciness, pencil, graphite, very discreet dark red fruit and nicely integrated oak. A very complex nose. In the mouth the wine is thick, very full body, with creamy texture, dark chocolate, coffee, dark cherries, tobacco, red currant, mineral notes, firm tannins on the back end. The wine has a beautiful long aftertaste with flavors coming back over and over again. Very impressive wine. Due to its low price level I consider this wine Excellent. This wine can easily compete against 40-50 € wines.
I had this wine together with home made whole duck roasted in honey crust and then boiled in orange juice in a cooking bag in the oven. Made it crispy on the outside and juicy inside, preserving all those meat juices. I used the duck fat to roast celery, potatoes, pineapple, garlic and carrots in a tray in the oven as well. The result is pictured below.
I served the duck with St Dalphor dark cherry jam(high fruit content spread). The dish with all those big flavors from the duck fat, the sweet-salty roasted pineapple, the melted garlic, the juicy meat texture and the wine made for an amazing rainy SUNDAY lunch. I wish you were there…
* Information on Priorat is courtesy to “The Oxford companion to Wine” – Jancis Robinson
Thanks for reading…