I’m technically on holiday, but there’s always wine. In this case, we’re spending a few days in the seemingly impenetrable Priorat region. Townships of 100 people crested upon hilltops steep and dramatic. The vineyards are terraced, barely accessible by man and beast, let alone machines for harvesting. Bush vines, low yields. The main red grapes are carinena and garnaxta (grenache), supported by post-phylloxera plantings of French Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet and Mourvedre. Our lodgings are in picturesque Gratallops, with several important wineries located nearby, one of which is Clos Figueras, started by English wine merchant Christopher Gannan in the 1980s. His daughter now is involved with the winemaking and as such, is slowly navigating the boat to within the calmer waters of the Priorat DOQ to make wines of a more approachable nature, as demonstrated with the Serras del Priorat label. Most of the 18 hectares are in one block, co-planted with a large olive grove. I found this olive note prevalent in the 1st two reds, sourced mainly from the home estate. The flagship is sourced from the village of Porrera with old vines producing small bunches and powerful fruit.
Clos Figueras, Serras del Priorat, Pirorat, 2016
Introduced as an earlier drinking style. Blueberry, blue plum, vanilla spice, black olive, licorice. Easy & smooth palate, lighter structure with distinct peppery syrah spice. A pleasure to drink and enjoy.
Alc: 15% Rating: 18/20
Clos Figueras, Font de la Figuera, Priorat, 2015
Oak dominates the nose, before drying, dusty blue and black fruit, a little carbonic bubble gum and strap licorice. The black olive note again runs through crystalline raspberry and blackberry. Oak smooth and rustic. A nod to what was Priorat. Still well made, but a nod to what is past, not the future.
Alc: 15% Rating 16.5/20
Clos Figueras, Clos Figueres, Priorat, 2014,
The flagship. Old vine carinena and garnaxta. Dark red and black fruit dominant while a waxy component lines the palate. Fine sandy tannins and chalky structure that belies the alcohol content. Finishes with a long flavour profile. Surprisingly still fresh: changes in harvest time and fermentation/maturation mean less sugar focus and tannic extraction to create a still full bodied, unmistakable wine that maintains elegance over dead/cooked fruit. One for the traditionalists.
Alc: 15% Rating 17.5/20
Wines tasted in situ @ Clos Figueras.