Size & Type
Vi de Coster, the equivalent of 1er Cru wine. As we have said before, this is one of the most mineral, sculpted whites we know—it tastes as if the wine was tapped directly from pure rock—which of course it was. Forget about how rare white Priorat is, Pedra de Guix gives the great whites of the world a run for their money.
This is a blend of three varieties from three villages: Poboleda (on schist) provides the Garnatxa Blanca; Torroja (on alluvial soils) the Macabeo; and the chalky/gypsum soils of El Lloar gift the Pedro Ximénez. The old vines of these sites are between 50 and 80-years-old. The grapes were gently basket-pressed over the course of several hours, and the juice began its fermentation in cement tank before being sent to old, neutral Austrian oak foudres for 18 months. With most of the grapes today pressed off their skins prior to fermentation, the style now hinges more on purity and tension (less on development, as in the past), without any sacrifice to the salinity and structure derived from its rocky soils. The wine was bottled unfiltered.
It’s an outstanding, savoury and salty rendition of this yardstick—with laser point acidity balanced by just the right amount of phenolic grip and textural weight. Such precision and detail are more than rare in the whites from this part of the world. Frankly, it’s stunning and impossible to stop drinking.
Only 2 left in stock
Since first trying Dominik’s wines a few years back I’ve been searching for other Priorat wines with this much personality and beauty. It’s been a struggle. I’ll be stashing some of these for my 2nd daughter’s birth year … well that’s the excuse I’ll be using!
A trip to Priorat in 2000 started a, thus far, 17-year adventure for German Chef turned wine farmer, Dominik Huber. As Dominik speaks of his time in Priorat, the lands, it’s people, and his wines you get a distinct impression that he has found a balance in life that many would envy.
Half his time spent in his isolated mountainous vineyards of Priorat, half his time, moving around the world sharing his passion for the wines of Priorat. The former offering calm, the later, the contact with vibrant people and places of the world, satisfying the joy of experience, in addition to helping disrupt his thinking, helping him push his grape growing and winemaking further.
A few years ago Dominik held a Masterclass in Melbourne for a lucky few. Wine Decoded was there to capture his thoughts on Priorat, his vineyards, wines and much more. Now we share it with you in the film below. Read on for more of our thoughts.
🎥 Watch or 🎧 Listen
Dominik’s Vineyards are in the centre of Priorat around the town of Torroja. Like all of the great wine producers, there is a strong focus on the vineyard. Simple: a healthy environment, results in healthy vital and vibrant grapes that are just desperate to be turned into delicious wine.
His approach to natural wine is proactive, applying great technical rigour to ensure he guides his fruit to deliver its full potential. Disdain, is perhaps, a nice way to describe his feelings for “lazy” natural winemakers who don’t put in the work and make bad wine.
No, Brett is not accepted in his wines, and, hygiene is important. Yes, analysis is used to determine the status of wines and make informed decisions. Oxidative maturation is OK in its place, with Huber’s preference to apply it to his whites and not his reds. Oxidised wine is not OK. The whites are still fresh, fragrant, and loaded with intrigue. If you tasted them out of a black glass in a dark room, the textures are closer to a light red, than a “modern” white. Don’t get confused or put off by this, the whites are superb wines, vibrant with great flavours.
No doubt Huber’s background as a chef has influenced his desire to make wine that is the perfect accompaniment to the regional Catalan cuisine, heavy on seafood, often simple, always tasty, typically not made from the prime ingredients, as the Italian’s say, Cucina Povera or poor people’s food.
Like many of the wine regions in the New World, it’s in a state of rapid evolution, trials of sites, varieties, historic and new winemaking techniques are taking place. Many wines are excessively alcoholic, over-oaked and oxidised. Those that are good, like Dominik’s, are the jewels of Priorat. The region is going through wine puberty again.
Huber has stuck to the local varieties, Granatxa and Cariñena for the reds. Garnatxa Blanca, Macabeo, Pedro Ximénez and Muscat of Alexandria for the whites. They are a revelation! In addition to his own wines, he has a side project working with like-minded growers to produce wines under a co-operative model. They are the perfect introduction to Priorat.
Some, ask if there is a typical style of wine produced in Priorat. I always find this an interesting question. A senior member of the wine industry asked me if there was a typical style of Pinot produced in the Yarra Valley. At the most basic level, my response “The Yarra Valley is over 50km square, there are so many different sites planted to Pinot Noir some warmer, other colder, elevation, aspect, soil types, all of these things vary dramatically throughout the region and different fruit results.” All this was without the influence of vine age, viticultural and winemaking practices. Even in a strip as thin, and, as well defined, as the Côte d’Or in Burgundy 50km x 1km there is an incredible array of different styles of Pinot and Chardonnay being produced. Priorat at about 25km x 25km, has considerable diversity to its fruit sources.
Moving past “typical” I’d love to see us looking at wine at face value and asking simply is it good, not, does it taste like Grenache or Pinot.
Dominik has chosen a path of restraint, elegance and uses only the traditional local varieties. Which he asserts are better suited to the region with their ability to retain acid and tannin profiles. I certainly think they have the advantage of vine age & balance on their side too. It will be interesting to see if variety experiments extend beyond the few French varieties and how they perform over time.
One thing is clear, the wines of Terroir al Límit are very good, perhaps at the top level with Les Manyes and Les Torres, great!
The surprising news from Terroir al Limit is that they have sold all their oak foudres (but one for the white/orange Pedra de Guix!) to focus on aging their wines in concrete and for a shorter time! They started this years ago, and it was accelerated by their experience in Montsant (Terroir Sense Fronteres) to the point that there was hardly any oak in the 2019 and nothing in 2020! They don’t have a destemmer here (or in Montsant), and all their wines ferment with indigenous yeasts, so the wines are about naked expression of the grapes and places, wines of great purity.
Terroir al Límit is in Priorat just south of Barcelona in Catalunya off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s long history with wine started almost 1,000 years ago. In modern times it was consigned to producing bulk wines through co-operatives. It’s renaissance, started in the mid-1980’s, with several producers pushing to make quality wines. Since then, plantings have increased dramatically with noble French varieties, Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz dominating.
"Dark gold color. Concentrated nose of dried papaya, lemon, smoke, oyster shell, salted olives, thyme and spices. Medium-bodied with an oily texture and bright acidity. Intense and vibrant. So much character. Drink or hold."
“Some of Huber’s most compelling wines are white, namely his Perdra de Guix, a blend of native grapes from vines up to eighty years old. This wine process that Priorat’s famed minerality shows up as deftly in white wine as in red.”
Where in the world does the magic happen?
Carrer Baixa de la Font, 12 Torroja del Priorat, Tarragona 43737 Spain