Priorat has been known for centuries for its powerful, warm, and very alcoholic red Spanish wines. Whilst most fermentation exhausts itself at around 14.5-15% alcohol, the fermentation of Priorat wines continues to even 18% alcohol, which is unique. The high level of alcohol and strength of this Spanish wine enables it to be kept well and transported without problems.
Although increasing amounts of bianco and rosado are now being produced in Priorat, there remains a loyal following for the exceptional Priorat red wine. This is not a clumsy, syrupy wine but one which is unique and which despite the high level of alcohol has sufficient strength, body, finesse, and refined acidity to be regarded as an excellent Spanish wine. Everyone should try at least one glass of the true classic Priorat at least once in their lives. It is an experience never to be forgotten. Remember though that this wine is among the most expensive of Spanish wines and that a cheap Priorat is not a true Priorat.
The landscape of Priorat is very hilly. The hills of Montsant reach up to an altitude of almost 3,937 feet (1,200 metres) and they are crossed by deep river valleys. The vineyards are sited between 91-548 feet (100-600 metres), on very unusual ground, known as the ‘licorella’, which looks like a tiger skin when viewed from afar.
The ground is as unique as the wine produced here. The underlying strata are volcanic in origin and are banded alternately with reddish quartzite and black slate. The fertile upper layer is formed of broken pieces of mica and weathered slate. The steep vineyards on the hills of Montsant are reminiscent of the Douro valley in Portugal. The vineyards are frequently terraced, because of the steepness of the slopes, to prevent the vines from being washed out of the ground. Naturally such terrain does not make mechanisation possible.