Cellar Vall Llach, Priorat, Spain
Three new releases to check out, especially for Father's Day as stand alone gifts or to pair with BBQ:
‐ 2011 Vall Llach Embruix DOQ Priorat $24.95
‐ 2010 Vall Llach Porrera Vi de Vila DOQ Priorat $50
‐ 2009 Vall Llach Idus de Vall Llach $65
Famous Catalan singer Lluis Llach and his friend Enric Costa founded their winery in 1992 in Porrera, part of the prestigious Priorat appellation just south of Barcelona, Spain. Today Enric's son Albert Costa runs the winery and makes the wine.
Slate hillsides here, some with a special "tiger stripe", or "llicorella" soil, produce gorgeous wines from 60-90 year old vine Carignan and Grenache, and more recently planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.
"Embruix", or "bewitching" in Catalan, is made with the youngest vines - in this case 15-20 years old, grown in rocky soil in this abundantly warm region. It is soft, plummy, and spicy with notes of dark chocolate, raspberry pie, earth and tar. It is rich and "manly" but very well-balanced.
The quaint, remote village of Porrera is 12 miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea and counts just 450 residents. There is more humidity hear on the eastern side of the Priorat appellation, just as there is in Carneros in southern Napa Valley. So the resultant wines are fresher, lighter on their feet, than those grown in the hottest parts. "Vi de Vila" refers to the new list of 12 sub-appellations, ancient villages with prime vineyards, that may now be listed on the label. This blend of the local old vine Carignan and Grenache boasts an alcohol by volume of 15.7%, so do serve with food. It is intense yet light on its feet, with notes of dark cherry, mulberry, aged balsamic vinegar, mushroom, dried herbs, and cedar.
"Idus," named for the Ides of March, has the same blend as "Embruix" (say "Em-broosh"), but the vine age is 50-100 years so the wine is far more complex. This one is 15.4% and has notes of cassis, fig, blackberry cobbler, fennel sausage, slate, vanilla, cigar box, and grilled bread. It is muscular, powerful, intense and focused.