Priorat and Montsant
There were two wine regions represented at Fira del Vi, Falset, Priorat and Montsant, both of which are in the Comarca of Priorat. I’m a newcomer to The D.O Montsant idea which geographically occupies a C formation around the south and west of Priorat. The D.O. Priorat is the oldest of the region. D.O. Montsant remained part of the D.O. Tarragona until 2001 when producers, concerned about differences in quality and style decided for a D.O. of their own. There are more variety of soils in the D.O. Montsant and the territory occupies a much plainer landscape than the vertical slopes of Priorat. The llicorella soil or rock is what sets Priorat apart from every other region in the world. I don’t think phylloxera had much of a chance here which may ex plain the continued presence of old wine varieties. It’s mostly grey rusty slate and it’s often at a 45 degree slope. Somehow enough moisture hangs on to produce about a kilo of grapes per vine. Garnatxa and Cariñena are the main varieties but there are inevitable smatterings of Cabernet, Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah to polish them off. The Garnatxa is a solid fellow typically producing 14.5% wines. Historically the role of the wines of Priorat and it’s neighbours has been to add muscle and jet ne se quoi to French blue-bloods, they have also served well on the long sea journeys to Cuba and the Americas. The wines today, while strong in constitution are light in the mouth and full of controlled intensity. Colours are light peach for the whites and solid burgandy reds with a swish of oxidation on the edges. 2000/1 crianza wines are well crafted and ready now but behind them are more delicate preparations which will age to eternity. Definitely not for throwing down the hatch but well capable of entertaining three of four young sophisticated wine drinkers anywhere in the world. The Oenologists seem to be having a fine time. There’s a few greybeards, members of the first experimenteurs. They have led the way for a competent and competitive young generation making their way from The University of Rovira I Virgili in Tarragona who are applying innovative techniques and creating new wines. New roads, marketing and design has arrived and suddenly living in Priorat or Montsant isn’t so bad. Halleluia renewal.
Solanes of Mas Martinet is a pure old vine Garnatxa/Cariñena, light ruby with thick reddy drops on the glass, the effect was medicinal. Martinet Bru from the same celler is a new/old variety blend from 2001 and Sara Perez, the very young oenologist has a thicker heavier entertaining wine, well corrected tannins and a pleasantly dry stingy finish. Perfect for a night at the theatre
[email protected]
Celler Sabate is situated in the town Vilella Baixa, in the heart of Priorat. Their Garnatxa/Cariñena crianza uses a blend of American and French Oak. The result is like a good meaty cigar, it’s warm and sweet, and very tasty in small sips.
A Garnatxa/Macabeo produced a very nice mountainy white with specks of peach and gold stone It matched an easy round nose with wisps of honey and a dry porty character.
Celler Sabate 977 839 209
Viticultors Mas d’en Gil have an enviable reputation and rocket right up to the minute design in all departments. I didn’t even dare check the price of the intimidating “Gran Buig” but they have a crianza for jaguar drivers, Coma Vella. It has fresh colour, a light mixed aroma that feels well covered and bags of mouth filling sweet fruit, then it ups the heating to medium before finishing with a sting.
Viticultors Mas d’en Gil 977 830 192
If you’re looking for small amounts of cleanly designed Priorat/Montsant wine, expect to pay around 15 euros and up and you shall be very well entertained.

My tasting glass for this event was very handsomely presented in a shoulder carry bag, this and five tasting tickets (I managed to use one) cost me the nominal fee of about 6 euros. There were other tastings going on where affairs were being taken far more seriously and I believe the figure of 70 euros was quoted for a selected tasting of about 30 wines from the 2001 harvest or how about 8 classic ‘93/’94s for 130 euros. Somebody’s been taking themselves very seriously since I was here 13 years ago.
An attractive option was a cooking competition open to professional and previously presented cooks! The organisation provides all the cooking materials and 30 euros for shopping. You and your team of up to four have two hours to get lunch ready, all you had to do was use the wonderful supply of 50 wines available!

Falset is the capital of Priorat. I’ve been there four times and it’s usually very quiet, Priorat is a very peaceful place. A long curve marks the centre of the town and there are plenty of terraces on the shadier Barcelona side. I fell into the Fonda Nacional the first time I hit town, shake off the dust folks you’re in a real bar. I remember about three half sized billiard tables and the original black and white checked floor, a bar stocked with the works and an audio visual system to beat the band. Entering the same building on the left you will encounter the dining room of the Fonda side of things. The last remodelling had been done in the thirties, doors, paint, chandeliers and salt n’pepper shakers were all original. It was run with restrained flair by the elder ladies of the house. The rooms upstairs weren't doing a roaring trade, we had one with a view over the rear patio and gardens, the furniture was large, old and solid, it was very cheap, chance it, I loved it.

What’s on
June 5/6 Mercat de Mar, Calafell
June 5 Castellers de Vilafranca, green cycle
June 19/22 Harley Davidson International, Callafel
July 5/6 Mediaeval market in Santa Oliva/Castell de la Verge de Remei,
July 7 Mercat Mediaeval , Batea, Terra Alta. 977 43 00 03

Paddy Mannion [email protected]