Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pocket-Friendly Priorat

Two confessions to start out: first, I don't drink much wine from the Tarragona area of Spain known as the Priorat because they're usually out of my price range; second, I like a good fruit bomb every now and again, and occasionally even a wine that has been manipulated to suit A Certain Palate That Shall Be Unnamed.

That's why I decided to write about the 2004 Celler Can Blau from the Montsant DO, which forms a crescent shaped arc of vineyards around the much pricier Priorat DOC. There will be Spanish wine traditionalists who might take exception to my giving this a very good QPR designation, but honestly this is a seriously good buy for those of you who like bold, smoky reds. And if you haven't heard of Montsant, it's an appellation to watch out for if (like me) Priorat wines are often out of your price range.

The 2004 Cellar Can Blau is a terrific wine, that is drinking beautifully now. If you have a bottle, I think you might be able to hang on to it for as much as 18 months more, if you are keeping it carefully. The wine was rich plum in color, with decided aromas of smoke, leather, and blackberries. The ripe blackberry aromas continued through onto the tongue, where they seemed at times as if they were dipped in chocolate. The chocolate turned dusty, like cocoa powder, and melded with the bittersweet tannins and smoke of the aftertaste. Like many wines from the region, this is made from a blend of about equal parts of Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah.

That's a lot of wine for $12.69, which is what I paid for it in the summer of 2006 at Costco. I can't find it online any more, but I wanted to review it anyway because the 2006 vintage has been released and is in stores now, and seems to have a very similar flavor profile. The 2005 did not, from what I can tell (though I hasten to add I never drank it myself). I'd recommend you but a few bottles and drink them over the next few years. Expect to pay between $14 and $17 for the 2006 either online or at your local store..

Is this wine made for New World Palates? Absolutely. A tad spoofulated? Perhaps. Absolutely delicious? Yes, that too. A bargain? Undoubtedly. Once in a while a chocolate dipped blackberry fruit bomb is a delicious, opulent treat (and most readers probably have a wine that fits into this category, even if they usually prefer something leaner). What will I be drinking tomorrow? I think I'll have a Cabernet Franc to keep my palate on an even kilter.


Joe said...

Hi Debs. I am at peace with Fruit Bombs - I know what a great one is supposed to taste like, on what occasion I should drink one, and why I enjoy them. I just find I drink them a lot less than I used to. Sounds like a great pour when the occasion calls, cheers! (PS - I have tasted a couple of Capcanes from Montsant - terrific pours, even if the "Unnamed" likes them)

Anonymous said...

and if you really like Priorat on a thin dime, check out the region of Carinena - Montsant is starting to get too big for it's britches, and there are many wines that are trying to compete with Priorat prices. But if you turn to Carinena, you get ancient vine grenahca, just like the Priorat, but often times for MUCH MUCH lower prices.

Don said...

Hi Debs - thanks for the "heads-up" on this wine - I also enjoy the occasional fruit bomb. I was able to find four bottles of this wine at an online retailer in CO for $12.50 / bottle. I've not had wines from this area, so am looking forward to it.


Anonymous said...

They still have this at my local Costco and I've been wondering whether or not to try.

Have you ever had Scala Dei 2005 Priorat Negre $16...a very good example of wine from that region. Available now even.

I like the spoofulated comment and I will pick this up next time I'm at Costco which will probably be tomorrow.

Jeff said...

My wife bought this bottle last year for me to drink when the kids made me father's day dinner. I remember it exactly the way you describe. And my wife wanted the colors on the label to be the new colors of our bedroom. ;)

Dr. Debs said...

These are great comments. I'm glad that you can relate to my "fruitbombiness", Joe and Don--and you got a good deal on those bottles, Don! Ryan, thanks for the tip. That went straight into my notebook of wines to watch out for. Jeff, thanks especially for writing in just to say you remember tasting what I tasted--it's always such a thrill to see someone share your palate.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy I bought that bottle at Mission! It's an 06 so I think I'll let it rest for a while.

As for other Montsants, Josep Seré makes a nice one that I carried last year. Might think about restocking. It was definitely a baby Priorat!