ATTENTION PRIORAT FANS!
Especially for those who adore Ester Nin, who has been the assistant winemaker for years to one of the region's original five pioneers, Daphne Glorian and her legendary Clos i Terrasses "Clos Erasmus" ("Laurel" is the second label).
FOR NEWBIES! Priorat is only one of two DOQ regions in Spain (the other is Rioja); a very remote, rugged, hot and arid region, about about two hours south of Barcelona and inland from Tarragona. Most of the vineyards are planted on steep terraces of black schist. The region is named after the Carthusian monestary (priory) established near the village of Scala Dei (stairway to heaven) in 1196. The vineyards were decimated by phylloxera at the end of the 19th century. Surviving old remnant bush vines were discovered by five pioneer families in the mid 1980s that spurred the modern renaissance of the region. There are 11 small hilltop villages that define the relatively small region.
Ester Nin is also one of the 8 young winemakers who collaborate on the ultra rare, highly coveted El Vuit label produced from a steep one hectare hillside of low yielding, ancient Carinyena (Carignane) vines.
However, Ester is best know for her own cult followed NIT DE NIN. Her production is limited to just a few barrels every vintage, and we have been fortunate to purchase since the 2004 vintage.
Now comes Ester's 2015 Planetes de Nin, a joint project with her partner and enologist Carles Ortiz from his 5 hectare plot of mostly younger, massale selection and biodynamically farmed vines of Garnatxa (Grenache) and Carinyena in the village of Porrera. Porrera is one of the "coolest" growing villages of the Priorat as it is situated closer to the ocean.
"The amazing 2015 Planetes de Nin is a young-vine blend of Garnacha and Cariñena that fermented in 3,200-liter French oak vats with indigenous yeasts and matured in a 3,000-liter oak vat for some 18 months. It starts as a closed and serious red, with great detail, poise and elegance, incredibly fresh for the conditions of the year, challenging the 2014 with freshness. It's fresh and mineral, elegant and perfumed, floral and nicely balanced on the palate. This has to be the finest Planetes to date. Bravo! 9,070 bottles were filled in April 2017." 95 POINTS - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Luis Gutierrez April 2018)
MY IMPRESSIONS! NEW WAVE Priorat! Instead of the big, ripe, baked, blockbusters of the past, everything is directed at producing a wine of great freshness and more finesse, which assures a greater display the terroir's complexity found from this "place". Don't misunderstand, this wine still delivers all the goods! You might have to be a better "listener", that is, pay a little more attention to all of the nuances. Hand picked, hand sorted so over ripe fruit is eliminated, the fermentation is spontaneous via indigenous yeast. After 4 weeks of extended skin contact, the color is still slightly lighter as there is no punch down or cap manipulation. Remember, everything is natural or minimal intervention. The French oak fermentation and extended aging in large used foudres have neutralized any sensory influence. The gorgeous dark red berry fruits and llicorella minerality are all there. The wine still "grips" with a fine, firm tannin, while the acidity affords a better balance and earlier drinkability. Actually, I have noticed this trend in Ester Nin's more recent vintages, and find it extremely appealing.....down right "refreshing". Bravo!
We have about a dozen bottles of her most recent 2016 Laurel (WA95) still available at $54.95 if interested