2013 Bodegas La Cartuja Priorat

Hello friends. Over the past few years, we’ve struck a rich vein of quality Spanish wines, thanks in large part to the efforts of John House at Ole Imports. We know John through his Ovum winery project in the northwest, and that connection has allowed us to pluck some of the best cherries from the Ole/Peninsula book.

Wine Advocate (Robert Parker): “TEXT WITHHELD].”

One Olé wine that we debuted last year was a well-priced Priorat from a winery called Bodegas La Cartuja. For the 2012 vintage, we had so little wine available to us that we only wrote a little blurb about the wine in a multi-winery offer. Despite the small quantity, it turned into such a popular wine that we’ve been paying attention to the release date of the 2013, such that we have access to enough wine to give this bottle the attention it deserves:

Vinous/Tanzer’s IWC (Josh Raynolds): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

Priorat is a tiny, fashionable, high quality appellation in Catalan country, just a short trip out from Barcelona (location here). If Rioja and Ribera del Duero are the twin beating hearts of Tempranillo in Spain, then Priorat is the beating heart of Garnacha (Grenache). It is also famous for its licorella soils, a mishmash of black volcanic slate that looks like this and imparts a wonderful mineral personality to many of this wines it touches. Many wines from Priorat are inaccessible due both to price (expensive) and to style, which favors long-lived wines that can be tightly wound in their youths. The goals of La Cartuja run counter to both, offering a well-priced, approachable-in-its-youth version of Priorat.

This wine comes from a single vineyard in the heart of Priorat named La Solana. It sits on licorella and sand at an altitude of 820’. Here are two pictures from Olé (one, two). Looks awfully scenic (and awfully remote). It is a 70/30 blend of Garnacha and Carinena (Carignan), aged for six months in French oak, mostly neutral. It clocks in at 14.5% listed alc, which is typical for this fairly warm part of the world.

The nose offers plenty of licorella character, a refreshing blast of slatey mineral to go with blackberry fruit, floral blueberry blossoms, espresso bean, and exotic star anise. The palate offers more of the same: a deep rocky core shaded by lovely dark fruit notes. The attack is plump, the mid-palate plush and creamy, the finish full of polished, mineral-inflected tannins. It really is a marvel of quality for price and a wonderful introduction to a special place in Spanish winemaking.

First come first served up to 24 bottles, and the wine should arrive in the next week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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