The term “hidden gem” is thrown around a lot when it comes to travel and wine. But in the case of Priorat, a region (comarca) southwest of Barcelona, the term couldn’t be more applicable: although wines have been made in Priorat since the 1100s, until the 1970s, the rugged region of Priorat was only accessible by several roads, and very little wine was produced. (The majority of the vines were destroyed by phylloxera earlier in the century.) Since its revitalization in the 1970s, Priorat has risen in acclaim for wine lovers in Spain and abroad. 

Overview of Priorat Wines

Priorat is known for its dark reds made from Grenache (Garnacha) and Carignan (Cariñena). Since no minimum or maximum of any varietal is required by law, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Pinot Noir might also be blended into the wines.

Priorat wines are labeled CrianzaReserva, and Gran Reserva. Crianza denotes wine aged in oak for a minimum of 6 months and then bottle-aged 18 months; Reserva wines are oak-aged for 12 months and bottle-aged 24 months; Gran Reserva wines are oak-aged for 24 months and bottle-aged for a staggering 36 months. 

Priorat also makes a small amount of white wine from White Grenache (Garnacha Blanca), Macabeo, Pedro Ximenez, or Chenin Blanc. Although these are lesser known, they are known for being balanced wines with a consistently high quality. 

Priorat wines receive the highly esteemed Spanish designation DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada). Priorat is the only region other than Rioja to receive this designation. 

Flavors of Priorat Wines

Read up on Priorat and you will see one word used again and again: rugged. The steep hills of Priorat create a dramatic landscape that isn’t just stunning––it creates the harsh conditions which stress grapevines. As a result, the vines produce low yields of high-quality grapes, which in turn create powerful, concentrated wines. 

Priorat red wines tend to have aromas of red and black plums, cherries, and currants alongside herbaceous aromas like thyme, tarragon, curry and dill and floral notes of lavender and violet. On occasion, red wines may also have notes of cinnamon, mint, and licorice. The region’s soils also lend a minerality to the region’s red and white wines. 

Priorat food pairings

Priorat is bold and begs for hearty dishes that are roasted, braised, or grilled. Don’t be afraid to serve Priorat with grilled steaks, game (such as wild boar), braised fennel, roasted potatoes with dried herbs, and rich stews. Try Priorat with Moroccan dishes that have dried fruits; the plum of Priorat reds works incredibly well with dried fruits such as prunes and apricots that are often present in Moroccan dishes.